Customer experience key in Industry 4.0

In the age of the experience economy, customer loyalty is driven by convenience and instant access to information.

Read time 4min 50sec
Byron Horn-Botha.
Byron Horn-Botha.

The way we perceive and interact with technology to manage and protect the lifeblood of every organisation has, historically, been a critical factor in business viability and digital transformation.

Today's ultra-competitive business environment means companies cannot afford to be offline. Having a quality product or solution sure to sell and boost the bottom line is simply not enough in the age of the experience economy, where customer loyalty is driven by convenience.

We are living and operating businesses in an age where product quality is not only a given, it's expected. But it's not enough to keep them coming back. Today, organisations must deliver what the customer wants, when they want it.

And let's face it: everyone, regardless of industry, expects instant access to information and the ability to buy products or services anytime, from anywhere. So, what in a business is the pivotal hub for the delivery of that positive experience? The answer is unquestionably: IT.

Let's unpack the experience economy. What is it?

In a world where over half the Fortune 500 companies have disappeared since 2000 simply because they didn't embrace the realities of digital business, it may seem an obvious observation that our new world is data-driven and also being referred to as the fourth industrial revolution.

This era has hailed the introduction of the digital consumer and subsequent optimisation of business. Those that didn't embrace this digital transformation have ceased to exist. Under the circumstances it is hardly surprisingly that an organisation's most critical asset has become its data; and protecting it is possibly the single most important factor in its ability to thrive.

And let's face it: everyone, regardless of industry, expects instant access to information and the ability to buy products or services anytime, from anywhere.

In September 2018, Arcserve commissioned a survey with research firm MayHill Strategies in order to acquire more insight into how businesses are modernising their approach to handle new data types, increased workload volumes and meet rising service-level agreements.

A total of 759 targeted respondents, responsible for IT management in their organisations, were interviewed online in the US, UK and Germany. Industry sector and job responsibility were factored into the results analysis to ensure a balanced sample.

According to Cyber Security Ventures, ransomware attacks are estimated to occur every 14 seconds by the end of 2019.

Whether this can be described as media scaremongering fuelling concern over data safety security is debatable but the fact is that the above headline is the result of recent research and was attested to by 58% of IT decision-makers identifying recent media coverage of data breaches and ransomware attacks as a key concern relative to their ability to safeguard business-critical data.

Yet, even with ransomware being a real concern for 91% of IT decision-makers, nearly 70% still view the threat as a data security - not recovery - issue. But it doesn't stop there. Media coverage of Facebook's recent data breach also sparked fear for 42% of IT decision-makers; more so than a digital disruption to their own business applications and systems, or recent natural disasters.

To prepare for, and mitigate against, threats of events such as cyber attacks and system outages, 89% of IT decision-makers indicate having a formal disaster recovery plan in place. What's alarming is that nearly 75% lack confidence in their ability to recover business-critical data in time to avoid business disruptions. Why would that be the case?

The answer lies in the high costs and time required to protect multi-generational infrastructures ranging from non-x86 and x86, to software-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service. In fact, 64% of IT decision-makers agree that protecting business-critical data has not become easier over the past five years despite efforts to simplify operations and reduce costs.

Speed of recovery versus loss of business activity

Most IT decision-makers agree that safeguarding business-critical data has become more difficult, primarily due to resource constraints plus the high cost and multiple backup tools needed to protect complex infrastructures.

Some 51% of survey respondents cite major challenges to include the amount of time and skill required to keep backups functioning, coupled with the high expense of backup solution acquisition and support.

However, C-class executives were significantly more likely to state cost as the most difficult aspect of safeguarding data. The need for separate and/or additional backup tools to support new workloads, plus more frequent recovery points, were highlighted by nearly half of IT decision-makers as key challenges in data protection.

Yet, as backup infrastructures are clearly becoming more costly and complex, the tolerance for data loss is diminishing. Some 93% of IT decision-makers revealed their organisations could tolerate "minimal", if any, data loss from critical business applications; with half saying they have less than an hour to recover business-critical data before it starts impacting revenue.

However, IT decision-makers are divided on the importance of recovery speed versus the extent to which business activity is lost, with only half stating both are of equal importance in recovery efforts. Significantly, a quarter of respondents indicate the speed of getting back online is of more importance than how much data they actually lose.

In my second Industry Insight on this topic, I will reveal why IT decision-makers are divided on the importance of recovery speed versus lost business activity.

Byron Horn-Botha
Lead: Arcserve Southern Africa channel and partnerships.

Byron Horn-Botha is lead: Arcserve Southern Africa channel and partnerships. He has been involved in the technology sector in sales and management roles since he commenced his working career eight years ago. He moved from his first position at Pastel in 2012 to work for a SAP partner specialising in the SAP budgeting planning, consolidation solution and enterprise play oriented solution. In this role, he was focused on new business expansion within and outside the SAP user community. In 2014, he joined CA Southern Africa in a business development role. In 2015, Horn-Botha moved into the Arcserve arena, fulfilling the role of new business development, as an Arcserve partner, followed by the move to the 2018 Arcserve corporate position. Throughout his career, he has worked with channel partners, giving him in-depth insight into the challenges faced by the sector.

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