Avoiding IT System Breakdowns

January 11, 2017 No Comments

Featured article by Colin Earl, CEO at Agiloft

With the holiday season behind us, e-commerce and retail companies are recovering from the accelerated pace of their peak season. The National Retail Federation found that more than 154 million consumers shopped or planned to go shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend alone. Out of this number, around 40 percent shopped in-store. With this type of traffic, retail companies need to know that their systems will be able to handle high traffic loads. The problem is that, when traffic increases, IT systems face a higher risk of breaking down. Outages during the holidays could cost the company in sales and reputation.

Last year, a spike in traffic caused Target’s website to go down. Some users were unable to access the website on Cyber Monday, when sales were expected to increase 18 percent. Customers became frustrated, and Target’s stock dipped. Neiman Marcus faced a similar dilemma, suffering from e-commerce trouble when the website crashed on Black Friday. To make up for the outage, Neiman Marcus was forced to extend Black Friday deals into Sunday.

These are only a couple of examples of the troubles companies face when their IT systems go down during the holiday season. To avoid this, companies should spend the time and resources to prevent or minimize damage from IT failures. Following are three steps to prevent IT outages caused by peak traffic:

Early testing is key. The only way to properly estimate the max load for an IT system is to test it. This should be done well before the peak traffic is expected. By testing the system at a higher than normal volume, IT managers can identify likely areas of breakdown and create a plan of action. By taking the time to identify the true max load your system can support, companies can enter the holiday season more confident in their IT systems.

Monitor more than your service tickets. Often before a help desk ticket is logged, a customer has complained about an issue to a friend or colleague, or on social media. Monitoring social media for customer complaints can identify failures before they register in internal systems. Social media outlets allow companies to connect with their customers in a personalized manner. By monitoring these sites regularly, IT managers can rectify any IT issues before they become a business-wide catastrophe.

Respond effectively. IT, customer support and development teams need to efficiently communicate with each other to ensure fast resolution to problems. Service desk and IT monitoring tools should offer a virtual “situation room” that provides staff across departments a clear view of who is tackling what part of a problem, and the status of the problem at the moment. This real-time service ensures that teams work together without over-stepping each other. By coordinating actions, teams can address issues quickly, reducing the overall cost to the business.

Colin Hi Res 150x150 Avoiding IT System Breakdowns

Colin Earl is CEO and founder of Agiloft. He is a software industry veteran with over 25 years of experience as a developer, product manager and CIO. Colin worked at IBM, General Electric and three startups before founding Agiloft in 1991. His vision was to accelerate the building and deployment of enterprise business applications by removing the need for custom coding. To learn more, follow Agiloft on Twitter.



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