It’s no secret that with power comes responsibility—and, boy, did the third industrial revolution empower businesses to produce faster, better products and services for less. The responsibility part of heavy digitalization, however, is often overlooked—until reminded about in spectacular fashion when some company ends up in a critical situation due to some small glitch in the code.
Examples of this are abundant. In 2011, ATMs belonging to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia were overpaying customers who were trying to cash out. To control damage, the bank shut down all of their ATMs, nationwide. Not exactly the kind of news your PR manager would suggest.
In 2015, more than 3,200 U.S. prisoners were accidentally released 49 days early due to a computer failure. The algorithm came up with the shortened sentences duration calculations. Would you like to live in a neighborhood where your kids might run into a prisoner released due to a computer error? I know I wouldn’t.
It is, however, only the big, flashy computer failures that make it to the news. On average, companies experience 501 hours of computer downtime annually; that’s 501 hours of not serving your customers, producing products, or doing any other business operations. A recent study has estimated that computer downtime is responsible for 3.6% of lost annual revenue for businesses, on average. That’s almost as high as revenue loss due to employee absence (6%.)
You already know why reliable I.T. systems are so important for businesses. Today, when businesses are almost completely reliant on digital infrastructures to maintain business processes, operations, and communication, not to mention the storage and access of data, computer shutdown means company shutdown. And, in an era where customer experience is more important than price or product, a single I.T. blunder can ruin customer loyalty and retention you’ve been building for years.
It would be a mistake—and a popular one—to assume that it’s the computers that fail. While the errors discussed in this article are without a doubt related to tech, it is very rare that the tech fails on its own. More often than not, it’s the human error (or neglect) that causes companies to lose money and time.
User Error and How to Prevent It
We’ve already discussed in a separate article how your employees are likely the biggest security gap in your company with regards to social engineering attacks (smart psychological trickery that leads to compromised data and information). It turns out that employees are usually the ones to cause internal damage, too.
One of the biggest risks—also, one of the most primitive—is your team members deleting important company data. You might find this far-fetched, but it is actually quite common for ex-employees to engage in so-called “rage-deletion,” which is when a disgruntled worker who has just been released proceeds to delete company data as a way of getting back at their employer. To combat this issue specifically, you need to have strict user controls for all employees.
Many corporate I.T. failures, however, have nothing to do with ill intentions, and simply result from accidental errors. We’re all only human, and from time to time we do accidentally click on the wrong button. Whether that button instantly connects to a live customer, deletes an important file, or sets off the fire alarm, it is your job as the I.T. decision maker to put preventative mechanisms in place, so that accidental mistakes are as unlikely as possible.
There are a couple of universal treatments for bad user habits and accidental mistakes.
First and foremost, you want to have secure and up-to-date backups of all important company data at all times. Humans make too many mistakes to put your company’s reputation in their hands.
Secondly, you should invest in corporate I.T. training. Most mistakes happen because the subjects are simply unaware of what a certain button does. Do not make the mistake of assuming that everyone’s as familiar with a computer as you are—for millennials this picture is especially difficult to imagine. Treat internal security threats just like external ones, and you should be able to prevent costly blunders.
Third, you absolutely want to make I.T. and computer usage best practices a part of your company culture. It’s not enough to have a couple of seminars with your team and expect them to pick everything up right away. Gamify it, biblify it, put I.T. into your value statement, anything that could serve as a daily reminder of how to use a computer properly. Your business depends on them being able to click the buttons in the right order.
Management Failure, and What You Can Do About It
Put all of the blame on the users is a big misstatement. I.T. management mistakes can be just as costly—if not more—than user errors.
One common type of I.T. mismanagement is when a chosen I.T. infrastructure doesn’t fit the company’s needs and business model. When there’s a mismatch between the company’s organic structure and strategic direction, the I.T. investment doesn’t just end up as a financial liability—it also messes with your business operations and customer experience, especially if the management tries to force the usage of the I.T. system upon their employees.
This usually happens as a result of another I.T. management error—the absence of business decision makers in the I.T. management process. What many executives fail to understand is that I.T. is a tool—a tool that can help you cut costs, scale your business, and improve customer experience. However, this doesn’t mean that all I.T. solutions are equally effective for all companies. Tasking your tech department to take care of an I.T. project start to finish is like asking your secretary to pick out shoes for you on her own. They might fit, but, chances are, it’s going to be a waste of money.
If you’re worried about computer failure in your company (or have already experienced one), please, get in touch with us. We get it—mistakes happen. But that doesn’t mean you can’t protect your business in the future. To reach us, just give us a call at 844-44-JMARK, send an email to [email protected], or click over to the Contact Us page of this website. We want to help you secure your business and thrive in your market.