We've all heard the phrase 'Have you tried turning it off and on again?" made famous by hit TV comedy The IT Crowd, but with the majority of office work now carried out on personal computers, IT outages can be no laughing matter for businesses experiencing problems.
Whether it is ongoing or intermittent, it is estimated that IT downtime costs UK businesses in excess of £12 billion per year.1 Whilst it's true many IT niggles and nuances can be dealt with in the flick of a switch, with the advances in technology and ever increasing reliance on IT systems, having a reliable and efficient IT support service or help desk is essential for ensuring your business continues to operate cost effectively.
Trevor Mould is an IT support specialist at www.pav.co.uk. He works with numerous companies across the UK reviewing and updating their systems to keep them fully operational. He said:
"IT is an essential structure of nearly every single business model today so it makes sense to ensure that it remains functioning as efficiently as possible. Whereas once upon a time an office worker may not have fully relied on technology, nowadays most tasks are carried out either on, or using, a piece of IT equipment or software. This means when things go wrong and systems fail the consequences may reach far beyond a particular individual and can affect whole organisations, sometimes globally."
A dedicated IT Help Desk is more than just monitoring and resolving issues when they occur, however, as Trevor explains.
"The right IT support will help you with planning ahead. Identifying how to improve IT functions and providing solutions to drive business efficiency and productivity are ultimately the best ways to save businesses time and money. This means reviewing current equipment, storage facilities and software, updating anything that is no longer working within the realms of a company's requirements, or operating efficiently enough to cope with the ongoing demands of that business, and then consistently monitoring them for ongoing performance. It's this approach that will help to keep systems failures to an absolute minimum."
Aside from IT equipment, cloud computing, now the favoured method for storing, processing and sharing data, isn't exempt from operating issues either. One of the most recent technological failures to cause worldwide disruption was the major outage of Amazon's cloud storage facility resulting in huge and far reaching performance problems for websites and apps, affecting tens of thousands of companies across the globe.
With Amazon amongst only a handful of hosts offering the service, the dominance of a few large providers presents greater risk to end users who rely on them for operating their business.
Trevor said: "Cloud services are one of the most reliable platforms on which to operate systems and major cloud outages don't happen often. But, if a system is relied on by so many, naturally this creates a domino effect when things go wrong. Therefore, having a backup strategy to combat costly time delays is imperative."
So what can companies do to mitigate the time and financial losses if their IT operations end up going wrong?
"It's all about being proactive so you aren't caught out unexpectedly if something does go wrong. Employing the services of an IT professional and reviewing, identifying and resolving issues before they occur, as well as tailoring your IT systems to your business, will be invaluable in the long term."
About the research
1 The research was conducted in 2016 by Beaming in conjunction with Opinium.