Business continuity is a plague that affects every business owner at one point or another. As the UK heads into a recession that could feasibly last at least 18 months, three-quarters of SME business owners are fretting over their prospects of survival.
Small businesses that find themselves in a precarious position can ill afford a disruption in operations. If your IT infrastructure is not running at optimal performance, a slowdown could tear into your profit margin.
One research study showed that if a company suffers an average of 45 minutes of downtime each week, it would lose an entire week’s profits over the course of the year.
If something goes wrong which course your IT systems to be offline for more than an average of 45 minutes a week, it could be catastrophic. And businesses are not only susceptible to system crashes. Natural disasters, cyberattacks and human error that cause the loss of consumer data pose a real threat.
But let’s not get carried away. Outside influences may pose a threat but most of these issues can be avoided. It is thought that around 20% of businesses experience issues that threaten business continuity.
In many cases, disasters can be managed. If you have a solid business continuity and disaster recovery plan in place you will be able to get back up and running sooner rather than later.
We previously wrote about how to create an effective disaster recovery plan, so in this blog, we’re going to focus on IT solutions that protect business continuity by enabling you to avoid potential catastrophes.
Device or Software Failure
The vast majority of businesses today are incredibly dependent on IT systems to conduct day-to-day operations. Consequently, it is clear that software failure is one of the leading causes of disruption to operations.
There are numerous reasons why business networks fail. It could be an issue with servers, a human error that causes the system to crash or a conflict between two pieces of software built into your IT infrastructure.
If you do experience device or software failure, it not only halts productivity but could also cause data loss. Worse still, malfunctioning systems used by your customers could promote damage to your brand reputation and deter consumers from continuing to do business with you.
Cloud-based IT solutions that protect business continuity store data in a centralised location and update automatically every few seconds. Any data loss during a blackout will be minimal.
Other steps businesses can take to mitigate the risk of downtime is to assess the performance of your IT systems using software that identifies potential problems.
Remote monitoring software assesses your entire business network – including remote devices. This allows your team to repair issues that could lead to a system failure in advance regardless of where the issue occurs.
Managed IT solutions that protect business continuity can help to keep your business network operational for up to 99.999% of the time. Our IT specialists in London also monitor your systems for suspicious activity to avoid a data breach.
Government policymakers hold businesses accountable for the safe keeping of consumer data. GDPR regulations make it difficult for businesses that fail data compliance obligations to stay in business.
Under the rules of GDPR, enterprises are responsible for storing, securing and backing up data belonging to third parties. That might include customers, suppliers, shareholders, employees and partners.
When data is stored on in-house servers, there are several risks of losing data. Natural disasters may be rare but they are possible. Power outages and human error are more likely. There is also the possibility that your server break before you have the opportunity to transfer data to another server.
Adhering to data compliance is important for several reasons. From a business point of view, protecting the data you have acquired can aid business growth. Data drives decision-making.
But data loss can also contribute to the collapse of a business. In line with GDPR directives, companies are obligated to report a data loss to any affected parties. And that could damage your reputation. If a data loss causes you to lose customers to your competitors, you may have to close your doors.
One of the biggest threats to business continuity in the digital age is a data breach. Under GDPR, being hacked falls under the same provision as we discussed in data compliance. The bottom line is that businesses have an obligation to safely store customer information in a secure environment.
The increase in cybercrime is arguably the greatest threat to the continuity of most established businesses today. According to lawmakers, the definition of a data breach is when personal information stored by a business is stolen or mishandled.
Hackers clearly steal data. But what about mishandled? One famous case we can use as an example is when Gloucester Police was fined £80,000 after an email was sent that revealed the email address of multiple parties. The sender had entered the recipient’s emails into the ‘To’ section rather than the ‘bcc’.
However, cybercrime is probably the more likely scenario. The Business Continuity Institute consistently rate cybercrime among the top five threat to companies and PwC report 47% of business leaders are concerned about getting hacked.
Threat actors are becoming more sophisticated. Spoof phishing, spear phishing and whaling, in particular, have become more targeted and effective. If employees are not aware of how cyber attacks are conducted there is an increased risk of falling foul of a data breach.
It is thought that around 82% of successful data breaches are caused by human error. This may involve clicking on a malicious link or opening a file that is infected with malware. Because campaigns are designed to appear legitimate, it can be easy for employees to make a costly error.
A typical scam may come from a company you are associated with – either because they are well-known such as a bank, Microsoft, Google or Amazon, or a company that has recently been breached and hackers got hold of your business email addresses.
For example, when the Microsoft Exchange Server was compromised earlier this year, the 250,000 organisations that had their data stolen probably received a message that appeared to come from Microsoft instructing them to update their accounts to prevent ‘fraudulent activity’.
If anyone was unaware of the data breach on Microsoft Exchange, or they did not know how to verify the email actually came from Microsoft, they probably handed over their login details to hackers.
One threat actors have your login details, they can penetrate further into your business network and cause all kinds of havoc including stealing sensitive data or transferring money from your accounts.
Installing cybersecurity defences into your business network is your first line of defence against hackers. But the best form of defence is to provide your teams with cybersecurity awareness training so that your employees recognise potential threats and deal with them appropriately.
Supply Chain Shortages
A number of global events have caused catastrophic disruptions to supply chains which pose a real threat to the continuity of thousands of businesses in 2023.
In addition to inflation, some business owners risk losing more revenue because disruptions to the supply chain mean they cannot dispatch goods out to clients in time. Higher shipping costs imposed after Brexit are already causing a strain.
On top of that, the National Grid’s proposal to execute three-hour power outages could mean some businesses lose revenue because they cannot shift perishable goods.
The supply chain has hampered the just-in-time model for ordering goods from overseas which has prompted businesses to buy in bulk. But the proposed power outages may mean businesses that rely on internet sales will not be able to receive orders online.
Microsoft’s latest Software as a Service (SaaS), Microsoft Supply Chain Platform (MSCP) could potentially help businesses to ‘navigate every challenge” within your supply chain by providing an overview of the entire supply chain.
The ability to perform advanced planning by fast-tracking buyers and sellers could enable businesses to limit the risk of liability. Microsoft claims the Supply Chain Platform will help brands to identify secondary and tertiary components of a supply chain in the local area.
If MSCP works as well as Microsoft promises, this piece of software could be critical for business continuity in 2023. However, we’re not convinced it will be effective enough early enough due to its reliance on artificial intelligence,. Machine learning tools can take a while to provide relevant data that supports decision-making and the system will need a lot of early adopters to create effective supply chains throughout the UK.
Natural disasters are arguably at the lower end of the risk scale when it comes to business continuity, but they are a risk that businesses need to plan for. According to government statistics, almost one in five UK businesses suffer some sort of disruption each year.
Reports reveal that 25% of businesses never re-open following a natural disaster. And 80% of companies that don’t recover their client base within a month of re-opening are also forced to close their doors.
Over the last decade or so, the UK has experienced more natural disasters than we have historically. Floods are the biggest threat and whilst the government has taken steps to improve flood barriers, a £2.6m kitty only protected 314,000 homes throughout the country. Thousands of homes and businesses are still at risk of flooding.
Whilst IT solutions that protect business continuity will not keep rivers at bay, storing data in the cloud will insure you against data loss. You, therefore, won’t breach data compliance which puts you at risk of losing customers.
A cloud-based system will also facilitate a remote workforce which will enable your employees to work remotely. You may not have an office, but at least your productivity won’t suffer.
IT Specialists in London
UK businesses will be faced with a raft of challenges in 2023 that could seriously threaten the continuity of your business. The disruption of supply chains due to China’s zero-covid policy and the war in Ukraine will impact product-based businesses whilst power outages and hackers could bring online services to their knees.
Whilst there are IT solutions that protect business continuity, having a team of experienced professionals to lean on for support could be the difference between success and failure. Our IT professionals in London are expert strategists and have a wealth of knowledge that can help you to navigate all types of challenges.
Our talented IT architects and engineers deliver optimal uptime and strive to achieve 99.999% availability for client systems. We also have expertise in creating secure IT environments that can tighten your business network and keep threat actors at bay.
Our senior team can also assist you with the preparation of a business continuity and disaster recovery plan. A robust BCDR plays a central role in minimising financial damage in the event of a disaster that presents a threat to your business.
For more information about how to create an effective business continuity plan, read this article. Alternatively, get in touch and speak with one of our knowledgeable team members. We’ll be happy to discuss your needs with you and explain what we can do with the budget you have.