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IT failures cost money -- 5 ways to make your business respond more effectively

Photo: Oli Scarff/ Getty.

Running an effective IT operation is, like many things in life, all about communicating effectively.

One of the primary roles of any IT department is to deal with problems that arise — hardware failure, software failure, data breaches, malware attacks, denial of service attacks, power outages, employee errors.

There are incident management processes to identify, prioritise and resolve issues. But how quickly you move an incident through the process depends a lot on communication.

To find out if communication was occurring fast enough, xMatters sponsored a global survey of IT managers, including a large proportion from Australia and New Zealand. The survey, conducted by Dimensional Research, found that, generally speaking, we are not communicating quickly enough.

According to the survey of about 300 companies, 60% of IT departments say they need more than 15 minutes just to identify who should respond to an incident. But by then nearly half of businesses are already affected.

As a result, companies are breaking SLAs and losing millions of dollars. Worse still, customers are losing money and businesses are losing their client’s trust. Heads roll, the bottom line falls through the floor, and public confidence quickly evaporates.

Nearly half (47%) of respondents said that finding the right person takes as long as, or longer than, resolving the issue.

Nearly all (90%) of those surveyed said IT can offer more strategic services to the business, and three quarters (77%) said the business thinks IT is too slow in resolving key issues.

So what sorts of improvements would help companies do better? According to the survey 91% of IT professionals said poor incident communication increases downtime. 87% indicated that guaranteed alert delivery would accelerate issue resolution, and 85% said issue resolution would be accelerated by a response system that initiates steps with a single click on conferencing on a mobile device.

About 90% of business continuity events are actually IT events that threaten the future of the business. Hybrid cloud environments, interconnected systems and the Internet of Things have all conspired to make IT expertise essential for virtually any incident resolution.

So what can you do? Between identifying the incident and resolving it, there are important communications that determine how fast the major incident management process moves forward.

Here are a few recommendations for resolving incidents faster:

  • Send targeted notifications to resolvers and stakeholders without including nonessential personnel.
  • Maintain on-call individual and group schedules and contact information for automated notifications.
  • Automate escalation procedures so resolution moves forward even if conditions change or someone doesn’t answer.
  • Update a third-party originating system through closed-loop integrations. You’ll have an audit trail of activities.
  • Measure everything to drive accountability and improve performance.

IT’s role has expanded significantly over the years and IT professionals remain willing to do even more. But that growing role puts even more emphasis on their ability to respond quickly and effectively to issues.

Quicker issue remediation will require the right people be contacted efficiently, based on availability and expertise. This may mean the communications management alert systems, that have served IT in the past, may no longer be able to support the department’s growing role.

David Wall is regional vice president, Asia-Pacific and Japan of xMatters, a leader in communication-enabled business processes. xMatters’ cloud-based communications solutions enable any business process or application to trigger two-way communications (push, voice, email, SMS, etc.) throughout the extended enterprise during time-sensitive events.

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