What the transformation of digital services has shown is that customers want it all, and they want it now. This 24/7 culture has meant that businesses in all sectors face fresh challenges – it’s no longer just about providing a service digitally, but about making sure that the service is available to the user quickly and seamlessly.
McKinsey research found that only 13% of consumers describe themselves as “loyalists”, and the rise of the “shop around” consumer is growing. This proves the point that businesses need to provide the best possible service if they are to ensure new, and existing, customers when loyalty can no longer be relied upon.
Against this backdrop, organisations sector-wide are ploughing their energy into making sure that they can deliver services on any day, at any hour and from any location. Part of this includes planning for times where traffic to a website, for example, might be particularly high. Think of the January sales – from Boxing Day onwards, retailers need to ensure that they can cope with the inevitable increase in bargain-hunting visitors to their sites.
Similarly, with events like the recent six nations, streaming providers and broadcast networks can be certain that they’ll see a rise in viewers, particularly during the England Ireland match.
Preparing for the unplanned
But what happens when unexpected events occur that organisations can’t necessarily foresee? In the days following music legend, Prince’s, death, music streaming services saw over one million downloads of his tracks, a significant uptick from the 14,000 the week before. The immediate influx of fans downloading his music must certainly have been an unplanned surge in activity.
At the end of last year, the price of Bitcoin dropped to below $12,000, 40% off its previous high. With other cryptocurrencies also seeing a decline in price at the same time, digital currency exchange, Coinbase, saw a mass sell-off. The sudden increase in traffic and trading volume subsequently meant that the website crashed, blocking traders from accessing the exchange.
These are just two examples of events that cannot necessarily be planned for, but could have a severe impact on reputation and profits. While there’s no indication that music streaming services couldn’t cope with the influx of Prince downloads, Coinbase was unfortunately a victim of the unexpected. With this in mind, how can organisations ensure they don’t fall into the same trap?
Agile network management
It’s all about having availability and diversity when it comes to preparing for the unexpected. An agile approach to network and IT management is often the best route to take. With customer demand constantly changing and increasing, the network is no longer just the reliable backbone of a company, but the central nervous system. It needs to be able to enable cloud environments, connect every application, interact with different types of data and improve performance. Constantly.
Although this may seem like a long list of requirements, it’s actually the very minimum for the modern business. All businesses, particularly in the retail and media space, need to be able to capture, transport and harvest increasing amounts of data, then be able to analyse it and interpret it for better decision making. Most importantly, the network has to be able to manage this process, but also have the capability to cope with fast-growing volumes of users.
Whenever there is a new announcement on Brexit negotiations, for example, the news outlets need to ensure that their website can scale up bandwidth quickly to cope with the inevitable influx of readers.
Mastering IT infrastructure
The only way to achieve this is by getting a proper handle on the businesses IT infrastructure as a whole. The underlying network is the spring board for any business to be able to embrace the latest technologies – from cloud, through to AI and machine learning.
There are two key steps that can be taken to build a more digitally-savvy organisation that is equipped to cope with the unexpected. First, to avoid any delays and lag which can hit profitability and reputation, the speed and capability of the network can be enhanced with the right adjustments.
Second is to invest in the IT infrastructure to empower the cloud through the network. Support and expertise is vital here, so having expert engineers on hand, technology consultancy, and available maintenance services, like back-up routes, are crucial.
It’s a challenging time for firms and it’s therefore vital to plan for business as usual, all the while preparing for the unexpected. This is why businesses are recognising the need for a network partner that can support them through the every day, but that is also nimble enough to respond to changing market circumstances so that they can guide them through the unexpected too. If a company is expected to be agile and adapt, the network should do the same also.
Only with all of these elements mastered will a business be able to stay ahead of the curve and provide a completely uninterrupted client experience at all times.
Sourced by Michael Ourabah, CEO of BSO