Exclusive: We’re all far more dependent on Teams and Zoom than we want to believe

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The widespread dependence on collaboration and video conferencing services brought about by the pandemic has introduced significant business risk, new research suggests.

According to data collected by software firm StarLeaf, provided exclusively to TechRadar Pro, almost all (97%) businesses say that tools such as Zoom, Webex and Teams are now essential to their operations.

More than half (57%) of the 2,000 UK-based respondents claim their company would not be able to operate for more than an hour without access to their communications tools, while 27% admitted they would struggle to function for even 30 minutes.

What back-up plan?

With a large proportion of workers still confined to their home offices by the pandemic, it is obviously uncontroversial to predict a continued dependence on cloud-based collaboration software. However, what comes as a surprise is the lack of contingency planning among organizations, most of which are now utterly reliant on these kinds of services for business continuity.

Despite this “extreme dependency”, only 32% of companies have established a back-up plan that insures against service outages, which have been relatively common in recent weeks. Among this group, a quarter said their contingency plan would involve turning to consumer apps like WhatsApp, which are ill-suited to professional use cases.

StarLeaf says the consequences of downtime would be particularly acute in sectors such as customer service and sales, with staff unable to carry out their jobs without access to communications tools. 

Respondents registered serious concerns about the consequences of a pause in service caused by an outage. Half of those surveyed suspect an incident of this kind would have a severe impact on the reputation of their company, with knock-on effects on the bottom line.

“The way of doing business now takes place predominantly using communications platforms. And while this has many benefits, such as the ability to work from anywhere and hire staff from across the world, this is also leaving companies vulnerable to major disruption. The sheer pace of digital transformation over the last two years is the reason for this liability oversight,” said Mark Richer, StarLeaf CEO.

“As we look ahead to 2022, businesses need to ensure they have a failover system so they can continue to operate, no matter what happens to their comms platform.”

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.