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Availability in the finance sector: a solution to the issue

By Daniela Streng, VP and GM EMEA at LogicMonitor 

The march towards digital transformation has redefined the business construct of the financial industry. Following rapid technological evolution, leaders in this sector are increasingly having to reprioritise what key values are essential to running a lucrative organisation. As IT infrastructure is now crucial to operations, one of the most critical values is IT availability. Availability is as vital to most business sectors as it is simple – the term refers to whether IT infrastructures are functioning properly. Despite its importance, the finance sector is struggling to maintain availability in their infrastructures.

Society’s reliance on IT infrastructure presents an enormous financial risk for businesses around the world especially when availability lapses and IT outages occur. As we have seen in recent years, no company or organisation is immune to outages. Even some of the most dominating brands in the financial industry have succumbed to outage incidents, and subsequently, endured financial drawbacks, halted operations, and a tainted brand reputation and customer experience.

The spectre of downtime

Daniela Streng
Daniela Streng

IT outages are the result of an organisation’s systems and services being unavailable, while brownouts are the result of systems and services failing to function at their optimal level. According to a LogicMonitor survey of IT decision-makers, the spectre of outages is haunting the financial industry.

In the survey, 41 percent of respondents within the financial industry said they experienced 10 or more IT outages in the past three years – the most frequent out of all the industries represented. When you think about it, the frequency of these outages likely comes with repercussions that affect employment and customer satisfaction, or could result in unwanted attention from the media. In fact, 43 percent of survey respondents in the financial industry worried that they would experience a brownout or outage so severe that it would make major media headlines, and 52 percent believe someone could lose their job as a result.

Compounding the financial implications of faltering availability, the survey found companies that experienced regular outages and brownouts suffered up to 16-times higher costs than companies who had fewer instances of downtime. Adding fuel to the fire, outage-stricken organisations found themselves doubling their IT teams to mitigate these issues, which still took them twice as long to solve.

Availability: an essential commodity

It is a fact of modern business that availability is highly valued by the customer. For example, if an online banking app or fintech app is frequently down, a customer may move to another service and never return. Underlining this fact, the survey shows that IT decision makers recognise the huge importance of maintaining availability; 80 percent of global respondents indicated that performance and availability are important issues, ranking these above security and cost-effectiveness. This is understandable given that availability maintains vital functions, such as facilitating online banking operations.

Across all industries represented in the survey, many IT professionals felt that, although outages were avoidable, their companies lacked the means to prevent them from occurring. Given the prevalence of outages in the financial sector – and despite the importance of availability – the industry needs to devote more of its time and resources towards resolving these issues and finding a solution.

Effective monitoring is key to availability

Financial organisations can prevent downtime by investing in a comprehensive monitoring platform that provides full visibility into their IT infrastructure within a single, unified view. This will enable IT teams to identify and resolve issues within their infrastructure effectively, and long before they can have a tangible effect on business operations. Visibility is key to maintaining a proactive stance, versus the reactive nature of solving the problem once an outage occurs. It is far better for businesses that IT teams focus on optimisation and innovation, rather than damage control.

While many organisations will employ a monitoring solution to guarantee visibility, there is a range of criteria that has to be met for the solution to be effective. The solution must be extensible, meaning that it integrates well across all of their other IT systems. Gaps in visibility must be identified and addressed, otherwise, it is here that outages might spring from. Equally crucial is that the selected monitoring platform is not only flexible across the infrastructure, but that it gives IT teams early visibility into the trends that could signify trouble ahead.

Monitoring across varied infrastructure can be an arduous task, so it is better to pick a ‘smart’ monitoring platform that employs artificial intelligence in IT operations (AIOps). Through machine learning and AIOps, these platforms can detect the warning signs that precede availability issues and alert IT teams accordingly. Once these key solutions are integrated, businesses will be better positioned to save money and crucial labour-hours, allowing IT teams to focus on moving the business forward.

Without a doubt, the financial sector is being haunted by availability issues. However, the good news for decision-makers in the industry is that a solution exists in the form of holistic monitoring practice. Leaders on the issue will find that investment in monitoring pays dividends, as business operations and the customer experience are no longer plagued by IT downtime.