By Andrew Bale, CEO, Resilient Networks

Much has been written about the importance of business continuity over the past decade, but with less than 200 days to go to the kick off to London 2012 there is renewed focus on this business-critical management function. But just how prepared are businesses to face the immense amount of added pressure? Resilient Networks set out to find out exactly that by surveying 100 enterprise IT decision makers and 1,000 London-based employees on how they thought business and specifically voice continuity plans will measure up during the games.

The results speak for themselves, painting an altogether worrying picture with as many as 75% of enterprise IT decision admitting that they lack total confidence that their continuity plans will be effective during the Olympics. In addition to this a startling 80% said that losing inbound voice communications would be business destroying or seriously disruptive to overall operational effectiveness.

And yet, only 45% confirmed that their current continuity plans covered how incoming calls were handled when staff could not reach their normal place of work. With six months to go to the event, it is an accepted truth, further confirmed by our research, that disruption during the Games will be widespread and more flexible and resilient communications will need to employed on a wider scale than ever before. If continuity plans do not incorporate robust voice contingencies how can “business-as-usual” be maintained?

The research also reveals, that there is worrying disconnect between what IT decision makers think their telephony systems are capable of and what employees actually do in order to manage calls, indicating that at the very least businesses need to communicate continuity plans more clearly to staff or that it is more likely that more robust plans need to be implemented.

Responding to the survey, London-based workers said that only 9% of them receive 100% of their calls when they are not at their usual place of work, leaving as many as 93% of calls unanswered when employees are away from their desks.

Going further and examining what employees can do with current systems in place, just under half (47%) of IT decision makers believe that their employees can divert calls when they are away from or denied access to their normal place of work. However, contrary to this, 75% of employees in London do not believe this to be the case; in fact only 15% believe they have the ability to divert incoming calls themselves remotely.

Now in the last stretch before London 2012, it is time for business leaders to take a long hard look at their continuity strategy and ensure it is robust enough to withstand the almost inevitable disruption. And step one in doing this is to work out how voice and telecommunications fit into their strategies and how they need to be improved.

In instances of disruption where staff are prevented from getting to work — whether an event as large as the Olympics or a one off heavy snowfall in January — the first step in maintaining business as usual is ensuring zero disruption across your voice network, especially when it comes to handling incoming calls from customers and other key stakeholders

* The results of the Resilient Networks research are presented in a report entitled “Preparing your business for the Olympics: ensuring business as usual” which can be downloaded from the Resilient Networks Website. It gives a full overview of all the findings from the report as well as offering practical tips on what to look out for when updating or structuring a business continuity plan.