Virtual Call Center and the Virtual Office
With technology from Database Systems Corp., the concept of a virtual call center is now a practical reality. Consider having your call center workforce accepting and making calls from remote offices or even from home. Also consider having monitoring and control technology in place to make this scenario possible. Perhaps even your supervisors are working from home as well. Also consider having a phone system that answers your customer inquiries on its own, but with agents available if ever needed. This phone system can even contact your customers or prospects with announcements and alerts.
Allowing your employees to work from home gives you a competitive edge over traditional call centers. Now you can hire highly qualified individuals who could not otherwise commute to your center. Handicapped individuals, single parents and the elderly can now become an integral part of your remote workforce.
The following is an article relating to work at home technology products and services.
Data Disaster!! Consequences And Avoidance
by Jerry Adcock (firstname.lastname@example.org) of Subterranean Data Storage Co (http://www.sdsvaults.com)
Even with the widespread reports of disasters, that effect companies’ data, many small companies remain indifferent toward implementing any type of disaster (data) recovery plan. Small companies are generally unwilling to commit the time and financial resources to implement a disaster recovery plan. For small companies with 1 to 25 computers, a disaster recovery plan would be more than 80% dependent on a reliable backup and restore procedure. Implementing a disaster recovery plan, even a small one, is both a moral and strategic obligation, and for some companies a legal obligation.
Standards of care and due diligence are required of all business. Not having an appropriate disaster recovery plan (DRP), which includes a reliable backup/restore system, violates that fiduciary standard of care.
Although no specific law states that a business must have a DRP, there is a body of legal precedents that has been used to hold companies and even individuals responsible for the recovery of data, after a disaster. Legal precedents, such as FJS Electronics V. Fidelity Bank are one of the more essential legal precedents. Fidelity Bank had a data disaster that ended up costing FJS Electronics. FJS took Fidelity to court and won. Liability statutes such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) hold corporate managers personally liable for protecting the corporate assets (now referred to as computer data). The FCPA requires corporations to “…make and keep books, records, and accounts, which, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the assets…” What about computer fraud, abuse, and the misappropriation of computerized assets? The Federal Computer Security Act covers that. And everyone’s favorite, the IRS Records Retention Requirements, would be an example of a Vital Records Management Statute.
Of course, the obvious question now, would be “ What constitutes a good DRP? I don’t want to end up in court.” There is no generic DRP available on the market, although there are several DRP software packages where you answer questions about your company such as type of industry, the number of employees, the number of customers, number of vendors, geographic location in the country, number of buildings, type of disasters that will destroy the buildings, amount of data to be recovered quickly, amount and type of chemicals on site, etc. From the questions you answer, the software generates a DRP for you. The cost of DRP software packages ranges from a few hundred to several thousand.
If you don’t feel your business is large enough to implement a full DRP, then focus on the core element of DRPs – highly reliable restores. Notice I said restores, not backups. Although some small businesses backup every day, they know from experience that their restores are far from perfect. In fact, they “plan” on losing a few files during the restore process. That is why restore and panic are synonymous at most small businesses. According to government statistics, 93% of companies that had trouble restoring their data after a data disaster are out of business within 18 months. Unsurprisingly, the large majority of those companies are small – 25 or less computers. Those are grim statistics for the small business owner that swears: “I backup every day.” Then why is the small business owner more apt to loose their data, than the large corporation after a data crash?
Large corporations focus on the ability to restore data, restore it quickly, and restore 100% of the data. Small businesses focus on the ability to perform “fast backups”. The faster the backup per buck, the better the deal they think they got. Unfortunately, fast backups do not typically equate to reliable restores. (Oh, how well we all know that.) Then the small business compounds their RESTORE problems by being sporadic with the 7 mandatory, and I mean mandatory, backup steps. Skipping any of these steps decreases the chances for a successful restore. And isn’t that what it is all about in the end – restoring data. Just ignore one of these steps, and you will not have to go looking for trouble, it will find you.
THE 7 MANDATORY STEPS:
Fortunately, there are a couple options for small business owners to achieve the RESTORE reliability that large corporations have. Upgrade to a reliable restore system such as the Exabyte M2 tape drive with a native capacity of 60GB (street price $4600) or implement e-vaulting technology (a monthly data storage service). Although the M2 tape drive’s initial cost, plus the $80 tapes seem high for a small business, statistics show the cost of lost data is even higher. M2s give extraordinarily reliable restore; however, you will still have to religiously perform all 7 of the mandatory backup steps mentioned above to achieve that extraordinary restore plateau that will keep you in business after a data crash.
- 1) Perform daily backups
- 2) Take the data off site/back on-site, daily
- 3) Perform weekly full backups
- 4) Do weekly test restores on random files
- 5) Always rotate the tapes
- 6) Catalog the tapes
- 7) Replace the tapes on a regular basis
The other alternative is a Storage Service Provider (SSP) that uses e-vault technology. (Large corporations have used E-Vault technology for many years.) E-vaulting is technology backs up your data to a protected off-site server, using the Internet as a transport medium for your data. It is the Internet that has made e-vault technology affordable for small businesses. Just a few years ago you would have had to lease a communication (data) line from the local Telco; which is exactly what the large corporations were doing before the Internet was available to them.
The main reasons e-vaulting is so popular is automation, cost, and reliability. It automates 6 of 7 of the mandatory steps of a backup procedure. Thus the chances of neglecting any of the 6 backup steps are completely eliminated. (Step #4 is performed manually with a couple mouse clicks.) Costs typically run $17-$30 a month for small businesses with a few computers. There is no hardware of software to buy, rent or lease. The monthly fee usually includes help with your restores. Large corporations who use e-vault technology pay several thousand per month, because of their enormous data backup size. Even with that much data to recover, they are up and running within a few hours after a data crash. So the next time you hear of a data disaster, ask yourself “What if that was me – would I survive?” If you have an inferior restore system, (restore and panic are synonymous at your businesses) chances are 14 to 1 you will be out of business within the next 18 months.
Jerry Adcock (email@example.com) graduated from the University of Idaho, with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science. He worked in the Silicon Valley from 1984 to 1993, with various companies. He has been a professional Software Engineer for over 20 years, now. Most of that time has been working on PCs and stand-alone microcomputers for robotics. He currently lives in Vancouver, WA where he recently opened a branch office for Subterranean Data Storage Co http://www.sdsvaults.com or http://www.trueevaulting.com, offering fully automated online remote backups.