What is the real business impact of an internet outage?
In 2018, it was reported that businesses lost an approximate 60 million hours due to internet downtime – a staggering figure.
We’ve all experienced the frustrations of poor (or non-existent) internet connectivity and the impact it can have on our productivity levels. For businesses that are dependent on the internet to function, avoiding the fundamental cause of disruptive issues can only mean that problems will continue. These problems can become more prevalent as the business grows and inevitably has to accommodate more users and devices. Although the stability of internet connectivity on the whole has improved, no connections are guaranteed, and therefore businesses need to be mindful of the impact.
An internet connection failure can be catastrophic to a retailer or professional business, exposing them to the risks of lost revenue, reduced productivity and customer complaints, but despite the potential consequences, many businesses remain reluctant to tackle the problem head on.
There are many potential reasons for an internet connection to drop, which can range from equipment failures to power outages to faults on the line or even incorrect configuration. The good news is that there are steps you can take to counteract the downtime that can result from an internet dropout.
1. An ill thought out “Plan B” could prove to be an expensive option
If you haven’t prepared for the possibility of an internet failure, then a Plan B might not even have been taken into account. The problem with not considering a “what if” scenario is that the alternative solution might be an expensive one, and in a situation where a business is dependent on that all important internet connection, the options may be extremely limited (and pricey) when it fails.
A more reliable solution than crossing fingers in the hope that the internet never goes down may include considering a backup line or secondary connection. You can utilise more than one internet connection at once using SD WAN, meaning you get the benefit of using an additional line you install for increased performance with the added resilience. Another consideration would be to identify important equipment such as routers and firewalls and having a spare available in case they fail. These can even be set up in high availability mode to automatically switch over should there be a drop.
Another consideration would be a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) which resorts to battery backup power in the event of common power problems such as a blackout, voltage sag, or voltage surge. This both protects your equipment and will also provide power to the equipment in events of short power outages.
We can help advise on the above solutions. Just get in touch.
2. Security issues become heightened as staff clamber for a workaround
Many of us will admit that being without internet can feel like having an arm cut off (particularly if you’re then dependent on tapping into your personal data allowance as an alternative). When the internet goes down employees may be left frustrated and in search of a fast alternative to keep them productive. Accessing unsecure public WiFi networks might be a decision that they take without a great deal of thought or consideration for potential security issues, such as the business being left open to a cyberattack or data breach.
Leaving employees to their own devices (quite literally!) could put your business at risk, particularly as we’re now working in a BYOD (Bring your own device) culture.
There are several ways you can protect your team when not connected to your network, firstly it would be a VPN (virtual private network) connection which your team connect to VPN when working with a non-office internet connection. This encrypts all traffic and can also help ensure only authorised users can access company resources.
Cisco Umbrella is also a fantastic way to protect roaming users. This is a cloud security platform that provides the first line of defence against threats on the internet – and more importantly, wherever users go. Cisco Umbrella monitors all traffic both on the network and off it. It analyses everything for threats, ransomware, untrusted links, phishing and malware, meaning even your remote workers stay protected, no matter where they are.
Take a look at this video about how Cisco Umbrella works
3. Employee satisfaction takes a dip (not to mention motivation)
Internet access provides us with a whole host of information and resources at our fingertips to enable us to do our job effectively, and without it, employees can feel a little lost, not to mention stressed at the prospect of lagging behind with work if the internet goes down. Poor connectivity can have a direct impact on the ability for an individual to do their job productively and can lead to a lack of confidence in the company, resulting in employees leaving their roles. In a recent survey by Savills they asked workers what the most important factors were for their ideal workplace, and 83% cited the quality of technology as the second most important factor.
Keep employees engaged and productive by providing them with a robust, reliable internet connection by having the right kit in place. Where to begin? A WiFi survey is always a good place to start. There are different types of WiFi site surveys, but the general factors considered in each survey include size of premise, required coverage, the number of devices accessing the network (capacity), your current infrastructure, interference, and the construction of the building.
4. For many companies, there’s a high risk of losing repeat business
If you take the hospitality industry as an example, a high number of business and leisure travellers would agree that they would refuse to return to a venue if they previously found it to have unreliable or non-existent internet connection. With the retail world, a dip in connectivity could mean payments and transactions cannot be processed, leaving employees frustrated and customers disgruntled. The risk is also high for industries such as logistics, who use handheld devices, automation and robotics to ensure efficiencies, all of which are dependent on a stable connection.
How do you limit the risk of losing business through a tech fail? It’s important to plan for the worst-case scenario, taking into account the points we’ve mentioned above, along with considering how you reduce any impact to your customers – ensuring that you communicate and keep them regularly informed about problems that are going to directly impact them.
Proactive monitoring is always advisable to ensure that any potential faults are identified at the earliest opportunity and rectified proactively.