What happens if your video conferencing platform goes down?

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, video conferencing quickly became indispensable, and video availability became more important than ever before. As one social media user posting in May 2020 put it, ‘Zoom is down. The apocalypse is well and truly here.’

July 15, 2021

With hybrid and flexible ways of working becoming the norm, video remains crucial. An outage for your business might not be the ‘apocalypse’ mentioned earlier, but it can make business extremely difficult through lost revenues, frustration for your customers and employees, and even damage to your reputation and your relationship with clients.

For many industries and sectors, it’s impossible to just switch to the phone in an outage. Here are some examples of what video conferencing downtime can mean.

Lost revenue and reputational damage in high-stakes customer meetings

For organisations such as law firms and consultancies, who bill by the hour and rely heavily on maintaining a good reputation and the trust of their customers, outages in high-stakes video meetings can be very costly. In the US, the average hourly fee for an attorney is $225, so even short outages mount up quickly in terms of lost revenue.

When it comes to larger consulting firms, the potential costs could spiral out of control. With many consultants charging hundreds of dollars per hour, imagine how costly even a brief outage could be for companies like the Big Four consultancies, whose employees number in the in the hundreds of thousands in key markets like Europe and North America.

In addition, there’s a risk of damage to the firm’s client relationship and reputation. Being known for reliability – ‘the firm whose meetings never fail’ – can be a distinct competitive advantage, bringing in more business while ensuring the loyalty of existing clients.

Missed lessons for remote learners

In August 2020, an outage to one of the major video conferencing providers caused chaos for remote learning across the US. Unable to switch to telephony for large groups, many teachers found that they couldn’t do their jobs. For schools in low-income areas, it wasn’t possible to simply pick the lesson up when service resumed, as many students had caring and work responsibilities, or were sharing devices with siblings and parents. Classes needed to happen when they had been scheduled, and the outage meant students across the country missed out on learning. For bigger education institutions, there was also the problem of the sheer scale of missed teaching: the University of Iowa, for example, had 1,395 meetings scheduled during the outage which couldn’t take place.

Social harm of missed public events

During the pandemic, many public institutions turned to video to connect with people remotely, and it was so convenient that it looks set to continue into the future. But when video fails, it’s a serious problem. Like teachers, public, religious and charitable institutions can’t simply pick up the phone and call hundreds, or even thousands, of remote participants. In these instances, a video outage is the equivalent of locking the public out of gatherings, meetings and announcements. As Rev Simon Hervey, a vicar based in the UK who streamed church services to parishioners during the pandemic, said, ‘imagine if door locks in churches across the country jammed simultaneously on a Sunday morning.’ For him, the outage meant his church was closed.

Have a plan

Ultimately, approaches to unscheduled video conferencing platform downtime will differ across industries and businesses. What matters is that you have a plan that’s appropriate to your organisation, and that you communicate clearly with your people about it. That means that when there’s an outage, you can transition seamlessly into your alternative without losing time and momentum. You’ll protect your revenues, keep your clients happy, and ensure that your employees stay focused.

Make video conferencing a part of your business continuity plan with StarLeaf Standby, the enterprise communications failover service for business continuity and incident response.

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