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So, as a clued-up CIO, you’re convinced of the need to become an ‘available enterprise’ but how do you convince the rest of the board? This is the thorny issue I recently discussed with Professor Nelson Phillips of Imperial College London. (You can watch the interview here).
We agreed that the overriding argument in making a convincing business case for investment is undoubtedly the importance of ensuring customer satisfaction. This applies both as a defensive measure – 42% of CIOs in our survey predicted that outages would be likely to result in losing customers – and as a source of competitive advantage to lock existing customers in and win new business. And this is not just wishful thinking: almost a third (32%) of CIOs stated that becoming an available enterprise had already increased their competitiveness as a business.
Another persuasive argument is the cost of business downtime. More than half (58%) of those surveyed cited the damaging effect on revenues and profitability as the single biggest consequence of an outage. How much would being out of action for a day cost your business? Will your customers and potential customers wait for you to get back online? As we know ourselves as consumers, we usually have a choice of suppliers and if we can’t buy from our first choice provider, we will simply move on to the next one down the list.
Younger companies are in the enviable position of being able to build availability into their ICT infrastructure from the start but for more established businesses, legacy systems undoubtedly present the biggest obstacle. However, with some time, effort and lateral thinking, there are ways to make them more available and as many of these systems run priority services for customers, organisations can’t afford to shrink from the challenge.
No one would pretend that making the case for infrastructure investment in today’s economic climate is easy and this is compounded by the fact that with cloud technology now mainstream, improvements to IT infrastructure are largely invisible. But the facts speak for themselves. Customers today are increasingly intolerant of downtime – 55% of CIOs said customer expectations are driving the push for availability – and being unavailable to do business could mean they very quickly become ex-customers.
 Research conducted by Vanson Bourne in July 2012 involving interviews with 450 IT directors in organisations with 250 to 1,000 employees in the UK (250 interviewees), France (100) and the Nordics (100) across a wide range of business sectors.