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Can businesses today afford not to embrace availability?

Can businesses today afford not to embrace availability?

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Article by Claude Schuck, Regional Manager for Africa at Veeam

Digital transformation initiatives have resulted in organisations evaluating all aspects of their business strategy. The always-on availability of data is one of these and is fundamental to the success of any organisation in the months and years to come. Businesses failing to make the necessary changes will experience significant financial and non-financial costs, for example loss of customer confidence that could result in the company closing its doors.

The 2017 Veeam Availability Report shows that unplanned downtime costs organisations around the world an average of R270-million annually, up from the R210-million of the previous year. And there are no signs of abating, with 87% of the global IT decision-makers surveyed expecting an increase in future costs of downtime or data loss.

Not only does this impact how businesses can access data, but it also causes tension between what users demand and what IT can deliver. This ‘availability gap’ is causing a significant strain on business processes, resulting in digital transformation being limited because of unplanned downtime.

Balancing business needs

In a perfect world, decision-makers can afford to ensure the continuous availability of all data. However, given the costs associated to having a completely always-on business, it is simply not feasible for all but the largest of organisations. This does not mean a company should fold its arms and blame lack of budget to ensure data access.

Instead, it should provide a guide to assessing what data requires always-on access and what can be covered by a less than real time business continuity and recovery strategy. Essentially, it is about balancing the mission-critical needs of the business with the financial resources to do so.

The C-suite must therefore work closely with all departments inside the organisation and understand what their immediate requirements are when it comes to availability. Risk assessment and how quickly the company can recover from disaster or data loss should be the guiding light in this regard.

More than financial cost

Notwithstanding the significant financial losses that are caused by the availability gap, there is also the reputational impact to consider.

This year’s study showed that almost half of enterprises saw a loss of customer confidence, and 40% experienced damage to brand integrity, which affect both brand reputation and customer retention. Looking at internal implications, a third of respondents saw diminished employee confidence and 28% have experienced a diversion of project resources to ‘clean up’ the mess.

Now imagine trying to remain efficient when internal attention is focused on getting the business back up and running. In a world where competition has moved from local to global, no organisation can afford to ignore the risk of the availability gap.

Embracing always-on systems

Fortunately, the focus on the digitalisation of business means decision-makers are aware of the importance of data. Not only is this vital to develop more customer-centric solutions, but it is necessary to gain an understanding of how effective the business is in the connected world.

Being available and minimising the availability gap should become strategic priorities for businesses across industry sectors. Data has permeated every facet of an organisation. To risk losing access to something that is essential to remain business-relevant cannot be overvalued.

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