Procurement · 12 December 2016

IT system failure more likely as Christmas approaches

christmas shopping
IT system failure cost UK businesses £12bn in 2015, with a spike around Christmas

Technology experts have warned small UK business owners to be prepared for an increase in power outages and connectivity failure, caused by last minute online shopping, in the run up to Christmas 2016.

According to research conducted by communications firm Beaming, outages and power failure cost UK businesses a total of £12bn in lost productivity during 2015, with a spike experienced just before Christmas.

This year’s holiday shopping season is expected to be no different, with IT systems failures likely to cause financial and reputational damage to businesses.

Commenting on the research, Jason Fry, a specialist at company infrastructure solutions venture PAV Services, explained why system failures are common during December.

He said: “The problem is especially prevalent around this time of year when systems are under a huge amount of strain. For example, retailers that are experiencing high levels of custom, either online or in store, during the run up to Christmas Day.”

Fry added that company owners needed to address IT systems early to catch problems before they arise. “One way of doing this is by ensuring that systems and operations are regularly reviewed and updated,” he said.

In the short-term, companies should at least make sure they have the basics covered such as an appropriate internet connection and servers that meet business requirements.”

IT systems failures caused major problems for businesses during 2016. One of the world’s leading online retailers, Amazon, experienced a 20-minute crash in March with an estimated overall cost to companies of $1.3bn. Meanwhile, in September, a British Airways online check-in system failure caused travel chaos for thousands at Gatwick airport.

“IT outages can render companies helpless and unable to deliver on their promises,” Fry went on to say.

“It’s not just a minor inconvenience for the customer in question, but a huge headache for companies who will not only face the financial consequences and subsequent effects on their bottom line, but also the potential backlash from a swathe of angry customers.”

Poor Christmas planning means a dry January for one in five business owners

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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