Downtime dangers -why disruption is not always a good thing
Businesses spend hundreds of millions on digital transformation every year. Large marketing and IT budgets are committed towards producing robust, user centric, AI driven online marketing experiences that are necessary to create leads and build customer relationships. Can any business afford to be let down by a website or application crash, service outage or slow-to-load pages?
Businesses who do not pay attention to the ongoing operations and performance of their digital platforms are risking their revenue and reputation. Designing, developing and deploying a modern website or digital product is no longer enough; it needs a robust, scalable infrastructure that matches traffic demands and a support structure that ensures fast responses and effective resolutions.
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With response times above a mere few seconds and downtime of a fraction of a percent per annum translating to lost custom and revenues, investment in the right infrastructure and operational support will save millions and protect companies from long term reputational damage.
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Why does performance matter?
The 2014 Gartner research is still the most commonly-cited example when it comes to the monetary cost of downtime—$5,600 per minute. It is estimated that commercial enterprises worldwide lose around $700bn every year due to system availability problems. You don't need to be a Fortune 500 Company to feel the effects of poor website performance; it impacts start-ups and large businesses all the same.
As well as monetary losses, website unavailability and slow response times, result in consistently poor user experiences, which in turn produces lost traffic, lost customers, and lower rankings in Google search results.
The takeaway? It pays, literally, to ensure that your website i) is available 100% of the time and ii) that it’s fast and responsive.
What constitutes ‘bad’ performance?
It may come as a surprise to learn what ‘bad’ performance is. The so-called 'five nines' rule states that the minimum amount of uptime that can be deemed acceptable is 99.999%, which refers to a grand total of 5.26 minutes of downtime in a year. In other words, any more than 5.26 minutes' worth of downtime can begin to harm your bottom line.
Equally-important to uptime figures is response time—both time to first byte (TTFB) or how long it takes the first byte of data from a page to be received by your browser from a web server and load time. Ideally, you want your website's pages' TTFB to be under 200 milliseconds, even though 300-500ms range is seen as pretty standard. You also want them to fully load within two seconds—that's all media and elements on a given page, by the way.
What causes it?
There are many factors that contribute to a website's lacklustre performance. While there are too many to list here, some of the more common ones include:
- Human error such as overloading systems or neglecting to test them
- Cybercrime and/or lack of security, due to the growing attack surface
- Unreliable web hosting services that promise lots but deliver little
- No dedicated support team monitoring or responding to website problems
- Application errors such as outdated content management systems
These are all problems which, if left unchecked, can be disastrous.
What can you do to avoid this?
There are plenty of things you can do to avoid being an underperformer. We could talk about this extensively, however, a few key points are:
- Ensure you invest in current hosting tech, for example, cloud hosting
- Be aware of unscrupulous hosting companies that fail to deliver on their SLAs
- Ensure your IT infrastructure and all applications are kept secure and up-to-date
- Delegate to third-party partners to handle tasks you don’t have the time or skill set for, e.g. 24/7 monitoring
Find out how you compare with the best in the industry
Research conducted by Just After Midnight paints an intriguing picture of some of the world's largest brands.
This research monitored 24 companies from across seven industries, across three regions, over a one month period in 2019. Using key statistics from this research, it’s revealed that an overwhelming majority are failing to achieve the minimum benchmark performance figures.
It is clear that while many businesses understand the importance and the value of their digital platforms and invest heavily in creating engaging, innovative and personalised experience for their customers, not nearly enough plough the same amount of effort into architecting the right infrastructure and investing in full-stack support to ensure they are providing end users with rapid response rates and as close to 100% uptime as possible.
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