How to avoid your business having a Christmas break

By Gary Mitchell, Vice President for Australia & New Zealand, Veeam

It’s a busy time of year. No matter the industry, the holiday season’s plateau in January is always preceded by the chaotic days and weeks in the lead up to Christmas. But as you unwind and switch off for the festive period, it can be just as important to ensure that your business doesn’t take an unexpected break.

This is particularly true for retail businesses, for which November and December have ramifications across the year. As shoppers rush to snatch up the best bargains ahead of the holiday season, retailers are doing everything they can to ensure their business keeps up with the surge in digital traffic.  

Over the last ten years, we’ve seen the incredible impact that the internet has had on the retail industry. Research from Roy Morgan shows that, 9.46 million Australians (46.8%) purchased something online in an average four-week period, an increase of 2.3 million since 2014. Further evidence of this is present when looking at major shopping holidays in the festive period, such as Black Friday and Boxing Day. Every year we’re seeing more shoppers opt for online shopping experiences over overcrowded and unorganised stores. E-commerce businesses can really thrive from this environment.

In times like this, business owners shouldn’t be concerned by whether their IT service can handle the barrage of customers jumping online. But what if it can’t? What if, on one of the biggest business days on the retail calendar, your website crashes?

Beyond the fact that customer loyalty could be destroyed by downtime, there are also some serious financial consequences with this.

Availability shortfalls are not only extremely common, but they’re costing businesses a lot of money globally. As a part of the Veeam 2017 Availability Report, we spoke with IT decision makers around the world who told us that these gaps in availability are not only extremely common but that they’re costing considerable amounts of money too. In fact, we found that the average cost of downtime globally for mission-critical applications can clock up to as much as AUD$110,000 per hour. Needless to say, there aren’t many companies out there that can easily shoulder these kinds of incidental costs which would be even higher during peak season.

There are also some serious business consequences to data downtime. The internet and mobile technology enable retailers to reach more consumers than ever, while also generating vast amounts of data. This exponential growth of data over recent years has opened the door to new opportunities. At the same time, though, it has led to unprecedented management challenges for retail IT stakeholders.

IT must not only ensure this data is stored and protected, it also must guarantee end users that the data, back-end services, and applications are available at any time, from any device. Whether these users are customers, retail employees, or business partners, they expect the Hyper-Availability of data and apps they need and have no patience for downtime or data loss.

Emerging technologies provide opportunities for retailers to engage with customers on every step of the buyer’s journey, from pre-sales engagement through post-sales support. These same technologies—most prominently the internet and mobile devices—also empower consumers to be more demanding than ever before. As the pace of business accelerates and competition increases, retailers look to data to help them transform into agile, responsive organizations.

The digital age is generating vast amounts of critical data that can be collected, stored, and analyzed to improve customer service as well as boost sales, streamline support processes, and better understand markets. But retailers are finding it difficult to cost-effectively leverage that data with existing legacy infrastructures. That’s because older, on-premises IT and networking equipment and systems lack the flexibility and scalability retailers need to meet both the real-time, cross-platform demands of today’s connected consumers, and the data management requirements of a modern, digital retail enterprise.

In response, more retailers are turning to hybrid virtual/physical environments and cloud deployments to store terabytes of data (most of which is unstructured), deliver real-time services, and increase operational efficiency. Hybrid and cloud-based IT infrastructures are essential to making sure data and services are always available to retail customers and employees, whether they’re using a desktop, mobile device, or wearable.

Keeping systems running and data accessible isn’t easy, but the payoffs are enormous. If businesses want to commit to providing an ‘always on’ service to their customers, then they need to focus on the planning and implementation of their availability solutions and avoid the pitfalls of unplanned downtime.

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