The future is now – but so are its challenges. With an ever-increasing number of companies taking their data and day-to-day operations to the cloud, it is no surprise that the IT infrastructure needs to scale to accommodate accordingly. Ideally, your IT infrastructure is solid, and you do not need to over-stress about things – but even the most robust of IT infrastructures sometimes faces unforeseen issues. This unfortunately sometimes results in downtime.
It is estimated that the average cost of a single minute of downtime for a company is $5,600 and the numbers can go wildly up depending on the size of a business impacted. In some cases, we are talking millions for an hour or two, in other, the damage to company reputation means bankruptcy.
The time lost is not always about money or about inconvenience but also about the potentially fatal blow to your company – sometimes, it is not possible to recover from trust lost and a few minutes down could be what pushes the business out of the market entirely.
It is always worth assessing all the possible consequences of downtime and try to understand precisely how minutes of downtime can signify the kiss of death for a growing business, so below we discuss some ways downtime impacts everything.
But data can be restored, right? For the most part, this is true – however, what we fail to consider is that data is restored from the latest backup you have, which could have been hours ago in case of downtime. During this time, any changes, customer orders, critical updates and so on that were happening are typically lost. This may not sound too horrible as the bulk of data is usually restored without issue, but it does have that dreaded potential to create dissatisfied clients and customers.
In another, bleaker scenario, the data loss is made worse as some of it gets corrupted or compromised, making the downtime potentially longer, creating a need for maintenance (more downtime) and ultimately losing confidence of customers, again.
At times, it is hard to say what came first, the data breach or the downtime. Downtimes are frequently direct result of successful malicious attacks, and other times, downtimes are opportune moments to make a breach attempt. In any case, once downtimes happen, it is crucial to be ready – from having everything prepared for such scenarios to having trained your employees to know not to leverage tools and services from third-party vendors in a noble, yet damaging attempt to salvage productivity.
Data and security breaches are on the rise, and it is simply not correct to assume that only big businesses are at risk. Statistically, more successful malicious attacks can be counted among the small and mid-sized businesses, as these frequently do not put as much thought to cybersecurity as big businesses know they need to simply to stay afloat. While we cannot predict everything and malicious individuals and groups are getting savvier, we can make sure that we have the best cybersecurity and IT managed systems available for our needs – this way, at least businesses will not be forced to take down their own systems in mitigation attempts that can be interpreted as symptoms of poor security.
Our biggest resources are our time and our people, and this is something that must come to the forefront of every business decision or risk calculation we need to make. Downtime affects so much more than data and numbers, it affects morale, productivity, trust, and confidence in our business.
Every minute of downtime is a minute not spent working normally, and the tally is simple at the end of the day – we multiply the time lost with wages we usually still have to pay out, add to that the morale loss and employee trust being shaken, and we have ourselves a much deeper problem than it seems on the surface. Ultimately, businesses come down to simple math, and time spent not operating at all, or even operating sub-optimally, is time wasted.
This one will be the biggest for most companies, and it is not right to pretend that it is not. In today’s economy, it is the bottom line that counts, and the ripple effects of sustaining revenue damage are so multi-faceted that it is impossible to go into all the minutia of it.
To keep it simple though, just imagine you run a business that relies on its systems being online all the time. Perhaps you receive orders that way, perhaps you are global, and perhaps your systems are robust and cloud based. Whichever the case, the potential final tally of money lost is simply never labor cost times the hours of downtime, rather, it is all that, plus the sales lost, opportunities lost, and ultimately, trust lost.
Stalling/Cancelling of Critical IT Projects
Whenever we have unanticipated downtime, that is something that becomes the number one priority to tackle, and when the cause of downtimes is complex or unknown, getting to the bottom of it becomes a long process. This means that mission-critical updates to the IT infrastructure or projects related to its overall improvement are sidelined, often indefinitely or at least for an undetermined amount of time. The downtime becomes an interruption preventing innovation and stops certain projects cold, projects that could have prevented future downtime potentially.
Many of the consequences of downtime are immediately apparent and can be accounted and planned for if you are prepared, but something no one can prepare us for are the effects each downtime has on our clients. The thing that suffers the most is always the reputation and the brand image – and anyone who has built a brand name will tell you how much harder it is to rebuild than to start from scratch.
The only way to avoid all this is to be always prepared. A good brand will have a great plan in place and work with partners they trust to avoid all the above listed scenarios.