Jake Madders, co-founder and director of Hyve Managed Hosting
The Christmas period proved to be a busy time for Chief Finance Officers (CFOs), as high volumes of consumers flocked to websites to take advantage of Black Friday deals and do their Christmas shopping.
Unfortunately, busy times like these also means an increase in the threat of cyber attacks, as well as the chance of outages, as traffic overwhelms servers. In this digital age, consumers expect a smooth online experience from any business they intend to spend their cash with, meaning even a minute of downtime can jeopardise revenue..
CFOs must be sure that their IT infrastructure can contend with these busy periods – or else run the risk of an outage during their busiest time.
Why should CFOs care about IT outages?
Every second matters in the fast-paced world of business. Hyve research found that 1/3 of UK consumers would move to a competitors’ website after less than 30 seconds, if their go-to brand suffered an outage. With this in mind, it might be surprising to learn just how often this cost to business is overlooked as well as how impactful the results are. As organisations plan for an influx of customers, if CFOs want this to translate into a boost in revenue, they need to make sure outages are minimised.
Another thing for CFOs to consider is how website outages affect ranking on search engine performance. Websites that suffer from downtime are known to show up lower in search rankings. This means fewer visits and ultimately lost sales to competitor websites, which in turn nullifies the efforts and spend of the marketing team.
As well as losing customers to competitors, outages often feed into a negative brand perception for businesses. 57% of digitally native millennials say that website downtime presents a negative impression of a brand straight away; a sentiment that drops to a third with baby boomers. Evidently, even the shortest of outages can impact a company’s image, despite potential decades of hard work to get on the map and make a name for itself. This is a problem for CFOs, as inevitably a negative brand image will only serve to set back profits.
In fact, according to the Uptime Institute’s 2021 Global Data Center Survey, over 60% of businesses have lost over $100,000 as a result of cloud outages, with 15% of that number claiming to have lost more than $1 million.
Practical steps CFOs can take to prepare for high volumes of traffic
The cloud has been a game changer for businesses, with one of it’s key benefits being scalability on demand. For example, during busy periods, businesses can scale resources up to deal with the peak in demand. Conversely, when things quieten down again, computing resources can be scaled back again. The alternative to scaling resources is to keep a large volume of resources on standby for occasional use during busy periods, which can be incredibly costly for businesses to maintain.. Fundamentally, the cloud enables companies to adopt a more efficient way of using computing resources and, crucially, to save money.
It’s important to remember there are multiple cloud options, some better than others, depending on a company’s individual needs. CFOs planning ahead for a busy holiday season need to liaise with their cloud provider and understand whether their IT infrastructure is up to scratch.
It’s not always possible to predict if and when outages will occur – and the Uptime Institute found that outages are still on the rise with 80% of data centre managers experiencing some kind of outage in the past 3 years. Meanwhile it is reported that companies who repetitively experience outages have 16x higher costs than those who don’t. For this reason, it’s important that CFOs double check that their systems are backed up, so that if an issue does arise, there is the option to failover and the effects of an outage can be mitigated. An effective overall disaster recovery plan will help minimise outages and save crucial seconds, reducing customer churn and poor reputation.
However, IT teams often come under pressure when infrastructure is required to scale rapidly. CFOs might want to think about outsourcing the management of scaling cloud resources, which will help support internal teams during busy periods by freeing them up to ensure all IT infrastructure is running optimally.
In addition, CFOs need to monitor their cloud security. The holiday season presents greater chances for financially motivated fraudsters, and these bad actors know that CFOs are more likely to cave to ransom demands in order to prevent further losses. A common cybercriminal tactic is the use of DDoS attacks, where a site is purposely overwhelmed with traffic in order to take the service down. CFOs therefore need to be equipped with DDoS defence systems, VPNs and SSL certificates and firewalls, and have constant vulnerability monitoring in place so as to stand a chance against such cyber-attacks during the festive shopping season.
Scalability is not just for the new year
So, whether or not you’ve made your new year’s resolutions, it’s never too early to plan in advance and mitigate potential downtime and its impact on a business’ bottom line by ensuring the company has a cloud solution that can scale.