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Downtime: how long before your company is affected



Unscheduled downtime of only a few minutes can seriously impact business revenues and reputation. But, as Teon Rosandic reports, poor communication is often at the root of the problem.

As IT departments manage more mission-critical processes, companies are becoming increasingly reliant on digital business processes, internet-enabled devices and the consumerisation of IT. These developments have placed an increasing amount of responsibility on IT professionals.

Managing alerts can be a huge challenge – sorting out the important tasks from irrelevant ones whilst setting the right person to resolve an issue can often be hit or miss. Identifying an initial contact might be easy, but what happens when that person doesn’t respond to an alert? In a sizable company, the escalation hierarchy gets complicated and messy.

According to a recent study by Dimensional Research, locating the right person to investigate an IT issue often takes as long as, or longer than, resolving the issue itself. Whilst the search is on for the right individual, the business is left suffering and is negatively impacted within mere minutes of an IT outage. Business stakeholders overwhelmingly feel that IT isn’t resolving disruptions fast enough. Key findings in the research include:

45% of respondents reported that their business is impacted following an outage of just 15 minutes or less

60% said it takes that same 15 minutes or more just to identify the right individual to respond to an issue 

Nearly half reported that it takes as long, or longer, to identify the right individual as it does to resolve the actual problem.

This research investigated how IT professionals respond to the alerts and communications they receive, and what effect they have on issue resolution. With 80% reporting that loss of digital data would have a more significant effect on the business than traditional bricks and mortar assets, the extreme importance of IT responsiveness to issues is clearly illustrated. Yet a surprising 41% of respondents said they have ignored IT alerts and communications. 


No more fumbling around


The last thing IT needs during incident resolution is to be fumbling around trying to find somebody capable of fixing the problem. Previously people would be happy to wait if emails or any other services went down for 10 minutes. Now, service interruption is recognised instantly by angry employees or customers. Every minute counts, especially when downtime leads to a reduced productivity, lost revenue and an inability to serve customers. 

Part of the challenge with IT alerts and notifications is that those notified may have personal events that compromise their ability to respond. Most inconvenient scenarios where respondents have received an IT emergency alert include: “while taking a shower”, “during the birth of our child”, “at a wedding”, “attending a funeral” and “at Disneyland”.

Using a dynamic and automated system that is updated based on team availability could generate better response by IT professionals, leading to better accountability and faster resolutions ultimately minimising business impact.


Poor communication increases downtime


As shown by the survey, poor incident communications unequivocally increases downtime -- nearly everyone agreed (91%). Businesses trust IT to keep critical systems running smoothly while securing highly valued data. But, when issues arise, taking as long or longer to locate experts as it does to actually resolve the issue is unacceptable, particularly when the technology exists to automate the process. Better alerting and communications management can reduce IT downtime and business impact significantly whilst also providing a platform for IT’s growing role and responsibilities.

To download the full “Business Impact of IT Incident Communications: A Global Survey of IT Professionals” report, go to: The survey polled more than 300 IT professionals from the United States, Europe and Mexico. Participating companies came from a mix of sizes – from large enterprises with more than 10,000 employees to medium-sized businesses with 1,000 employees – and from a variety of industries, including technology, financial services, manufacturing, healthcare and more.



Teon Rosandic is VP EMEA at xMatters 



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