Why businesses should be prepared for internet outages

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Has your company been hit by a sudden and inexplicable loss of internet connectivity? If so, you are far from alone, and it can be hugely frustrating for businesses of all sizes to be forced to down tools because of an internet outage.

But it's not just the sheer annoyance of it that companies should be bothered about, as the financial impact is massive too.

In fact, new figures from business internet service provider Beaming have revealed that this problem cost the average organisation £1,287 in 2016, while the lost productivity and extra overtime cost the UK economy about £7 billion last year.

It's easy to see why a loss of connectivity is having such a big financial effect when you look at how widespread the problem is.

The report from Beaming showed that the average organisation in the UK suffered four internet outages during 2016 and had to wait around six hours for their connection to be restored.

Figures also revealed that approximately 4.2 million organisations across the country - which works out to 77 per cent of businesses - lost connectivity at some point in 2016.

Those affected were without a connection for a total of 27 hours. In other words, they couldn't get online for more than three entire working days. No wonder then that in this digital age, when customers and clients routinely engage with organisations via email, social media and apps, that an internet outage can be so financially damaging.

Sonia Blizzard, managing director of Beaming, pointed out that there are many reasons why internet failures can occur, from malicious attacks to using poorly configured routers.

However, another problem she highlighted was "simply not using products that are appropriate for business".

If this is the case, it might be time to look at adopting a more flexible approach to the IT infrastructure in your office.

Keeping up with the rapid pace of technological advancement can be very expensive if you are routinely purchasing new devices. But if you are leasing instead, it's much easier for you - and much less costly - to adopt the latest technologies whenever you need to.

"As businesses grow, it becomes more important to put in place the right capacity, to have the ability to scale quickly and to protect networks from cyber attacks," Ms Blizzard commented.

"Any organisation with more than ten internet users should be monitoring their systems for emerging problems and have experts on hand that can help immediately at the first sign of a problem."

Many businesses are prepared in other ways as well. For instance, 25 per cent said they try to reduce the impact of downtime by carrying out tasks that don't require connectivity. Meanwhile, more than one in ten switch to alternative connections.

However, 38 per cent said their day-to-day operations cease completely when they experience an internet outage, while 13 per cent start losing money as soon as their connection goes down.

In addition, 46 per cent said they start losing money if they are without internet access for at least four hours.

Businesses therefore need to ensure they have both a short-term and long-term plan of action in place, so they can react quickly to an internet outage in order to keep operating, and ensure their wider technological infrastructure is always fit for purpose.