ballad-interruptions
IT & Systems Management

The Ballad of IT Interruptions

Network outages. Security breaches. IT interruptions. We’ve all lived through them, whether we were aware of them or not. And while they are inconvenient for you and me, they can wreak utter havoc on organizations. Just look at the recent events surrounding cyber attacks at eBay and Target, which compromised customer information and caused reputational damage for the companies. As these types of incidents increase in regularity, my team at Everbridge decided to take a much deeper look into how companies are responding to these IT challenges today – and what we found was quite revealing.

We surveyed 200 people responsible for their company’s IT operations about the impact that IT interruptions had on their businesses – and even their personal lives. All of the findings can be found in our e-book, “Current Trends and Concerns in IT Communications,” but let’s walk through some of the highlights.

IT Incident Frequency – A Real and Perceived Threat

Respondents reported dealing with a whopping 30,000 IT-related incident in 2013, which averaged to about 150 incidents per organization. These included things like hardware failures, individual app and network outages, lost connectivity between sites or regional offices and data center performance issues. While we hear a lot of anecdotes about IT outages, these stats validate that they are increasing in regularity.

Top Challenges with IT Outages – Communications and Timeliness

Close to 50% of respondents said that communicating and collaborating quickly and effectively with impacted customers during an IT incident was their top challenge. In fact, this closely mirrors some of the fallout from the recent eBay breach, where the company was originally criticized for its inability to alert consumers in a timely manner.

In addition to communication concerns with customers, the survey results portend that organizations are struggling to both keep internal stakeholders informed of the severity and likely duration of the outage and have the proper time to repair the problems.

Exacerbating many of these challenges was the method in which IT teams currently communicate with stakeholders. Brace yourself: 78% of respondents still rely on manual phone-call trees to communicate when an IT incident occurs. In today’s mobile workforce, that is simply not an effective or appropriate means to reach impacted users/customers and all other relevant stakeholders (employees, management, etc.). Again, this reflects a communication and collaboration challenge, as IT operations teams require solutions to ensure that the right experts are engaged as quickly as possible, with the right resources, during a service outage.

Impact on the Business AND the Professional

Not surprisingly, 41% of respondents said that their organization experienced decreased customer satisfaction as a result of IT incidents. But what is often overlooked is the impact these incidents have on IT professionals themselves – 64% of respondents said that they experienced personal stress as a result of IT incidents.

If this survey tells us anything, it’s that IT organizations have a lot of work to do. Organizations have to look critically at their IT outage response processes and focus on automation to ensure that (1) the right experts are engaged as quickly as possible, with the right information, in order to resolve the issues and minimize business disruptions and (2) the impacted stakeholders (customers, employees, management) are kept informed throughout the process.

Clearly, the goal here is to lower the “mean time to repair” the incident by getting IT folks informed and on the same page so that we can rectify the situation, and then communicate quickly and effectively to customers.

To read more about how companies are impacted by IT outages, I encourage you to access our free e-book here.

 

Imad Mouline is CTO at Everbridge

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