Business IT Resilience: Beyond Disaster Recovery

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Mobile connectivity and Social media have created a hungry monster that businesses are trying hard to feed.  Today’s consumers demand an Always-On experience, and they want to be served immediately or else they find an alternative. It is no wonder that CEOs are consumed with digitally transforming their businesses.  Information technology is front and centre for service delivery, and COVID19 has heightened its importance more than it has ever before.  

Businesses are now looking at possible ways to have their knowledge workers perform their work from home.  Many are finding it challenging because their organization is not digitally transformed.  So if your business hasn’t yet ventured on this journey of digital transformation, time has caught up with you.  If you wait any longer, you run the risk of being unable to function in a post-COVID world.  But simply digitally transforming your organization is only one half of the equation.

Let look at this more closely.  So you have gone to great pains to digitally transform the core systems of your business.  You have purchased and successfully integrated all the applications that your IT Team has identified that will make your systems work efficiently.  As a result your business processes are running quickly and smoothly. Congratulations! 

But are you ready when your system fails?  We all know that system failure is not an ‘if’, but rather it’s a ‘when’.  To be truly digitally transformed you also have to be IT Resilient.  That means that even in the face of a system failure, you are able to continue operating. 

Normally, C-suite would say to us that their IT team does a backup. That is, creating and storing copies of data so that they can be accessible in case of a system failure).  Most companies back up once per day, usually at the end of a workday; and in businesses of yesteryear this would have been the gold standard. During that period, customers had no expectation of doing business after 5 pm.  Nor were the number of transactions at the level that they are today. 

Let’s work through an example.  So your IT Team backed up at 6 pm today.  Work starts at 8 am the next day and the system fails at 4 pm.  You have now lost almost 7 hours of system work as well as information.  If your business has a high rate of transactions, this could be in the thousands of transactions.  Even if you are able to restore the system to your previous date (i.e 6pm yesterday)  It will take you hours or days to organize and re-enter the data that was lost so that the system can be ready for normal operations.    Let’s look even deeper still.  For the time that your team is restore normal operations,  your staff that is dependent on those systems has essentially been twiddling their thumbs; yet you still have to pay them for that time.  How much has that costed the company?  Presumably, if your system is down, your customers are unable to transact business with you, and possibly more dangerous is that your customers are now upset with your company and have decided to consume someone else’s services.  As you can see the costs, real dollar costs, take on a cascading effect. The cost of downtime is not only the cost to resume normal operations but you will also realise productivity loss, opportunity cost of lost business, as well as possible damage to the brand.  In fact, research has shown that many small businesses never recover after a significant system failure.  

So in today’s context of being ‘Always -On’ recovery is not good enough, because being down is no longer acceptable.   Businesses must think in term of continuity – where your systems and applications that service your critical processes are able to continue operating even when there is a planned or unplanned interruption – i.e upgrades, virus attack, act of God or plain human error.      

This new ‘always-on’ mode in the global economy has taken root.  Customers expect it.  Economies are thriving from it.  Businesses are quickly transitioning to this.  We all have to retool for it.  The take-away for the day is that in today’s world business no longer have the luxury of being down.  CEO’s have already recognized the importance of Business Resilience.  Now the C-level need to jump in and put in the resources to ensure IT Resilience, because IT Resilience is at the very core of Business Resilience.  

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