Network downtime takes heavy toll on European businesses

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IT outages are costing businesses across Europe in excess of $22.5 billion every year, with German and French firms facing the highest losses according to a survey last year from CA Technologies, formerly Computer Associates.

The software and IT solutions provider’s survey of European companies with more than 50 employees calculated that they lost an average of 14 hours per year to various forms of technology failure and spent a further nine hours recovering data, bringing annual costs to around $350,000 per company.

The highest losses were suffered by companies in France and Germany, although the average length of time before services were restored was highest in the UK where average downtime was 9.8 hours compared to the European average of 6.2 hours. The UK also had the highest amount of downtime per annum with 27.3 hours.

The suggested explanation for this apparent anomoly is that the frequency of outages could have more effect than length as short, frequent breakdowns could have a greater negative impact on the reputation of an organisation.

While UK firms suffered less financial pain than their counterparts in France and Germany, CA Technologies reckons much of this expense could be avoided through better data protection strategies that enable more rapid recovery of critical services. However, the latest annual UK Enterprise Encryption Trends study by Symantec and the Ponemon Institute found that while more than two thirds of respondents said data protection was either important or very important to their risk management strategies, one in five described it as 'unimportant'.

A similar survey conducted among North American companies by CA Technologies found the average respondent suffered 10 hours downtime every year and that losses per company were less than half that of their counterparts in Europe.

The main reason for this discrepancy was that, although the two regions had a similar number of outages per year (2.2 in North America, 2.3 in Europe), the duration of IT outages in Europe was longer. The total downtime per outage in Europe – including time taken to recover data - was 10.3 hours, compared to 7.9 hours in North America.

But the US study revealed that 71% of companies surveyed said the IT services affected by outages were mission-critical. The departments most likely to experience downtime were operations (62%), finance (48%) and procurement (39%) and small companies suffered the most during periods of downtime, showing the least ability to generate revenue (39% compared to 19% for medium sized companies and 28% for large companies).

Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.