How to mitigate network downtime in the financial sector

How to mitigate network downtime in the financial sector

By Sanjay Radia, chief solutions architect at NETSCOUT                          

In an age when customers expect uninterrupted internet access no matter the time or location, the importance of assuring optimum network performance cannot be overstated. When a network’s service quality becomes less than optimal, service providers are forced to take systems down to rectify the issue. This can impact the organisation’s reputation and perceived reliability.

Forced downtime can quickly turn into a crisis when it comes to business continuity. For instance, last year alone, organisations across the UK experienced losses of £3.7 billion and 50 million hours as a result of internet failures and forced downtime. A period of previously unplanned downtime can be especially disastrous in the financial sector, where even an outage lasting a matter of seconds can cause significant disruption – such as application performance issues for customers and increased labour costs for businesses.

The damage of unplanned downtime

For financial institutions, unplanned network downtime can cause a range of problems. For example, it can prevent employees from accessing critical tools needed to do their jobs, such as trading or investment applications. It can also disrupt customers’ accounts by blocking requests, potentially causing them to miss making payments on time. This can lead to a lack of trust between customer and institution, damaging the business’s reputation and dependability. Customers can effortlessly switch between institutions to carry out their transactions, introducing a risk of attrition.

Sanjay Radia

Further to this, in an industry where rapid transaction time is vital to business operations, seconds or in some cases even microseconds in slowdowns or downtime can result in millions of pounds being lost, along with a negative effect on employee productivity and, most importantly, customer experience. 

Public reports of slowdowns and outages frequently dominate the news and social media platforms. News spreading through social media is especially damaging for financial organisations as it can quickly reach a broad audience anywhere in the world, making it incredibly difficult to predict the extent of the negative impact caused by downtime.

In the case of a prolonged period of service downtime or deterioration, financial institutions face punitive regulatory fines and possible restrictions from conducting certain activities during recovery. Substantial disruptions can even result in legal action being taken against financial institutions, given the severity of potential impacts on customers and their financial health. For example, if a customer experiences financial loss due to late payment, their provider may be required to pay back any amount lost, as well as any extra sum for the inconvenience caused.  

Due to the digitalisation shift that has taken hold of the financial sector, with countless financial platforms and institutions operating exclusively online, employees and customers alike are reliant on consistent access to applications, irrespective of time or location. It is therefore imperative that financial organisations can quickly reassess and improve their recovery strategy, causing as little disruption as possible.

Avoiding performance disruption and ensuring systems run smoothly

Although the digital transformation of the financial sector has increased efficiency over time thanks to new technologies, it has also brought about increased complexity. The introduction of these new tools and technologies requires preventive maintenance and routine upgrades to ensure services can operate at optimal efficiency. By carrying out maintenance checks and regular updates, organisations can mitigate the risk of having to implement unexpected downtime and, in turn, mitigate fiscal and reputational losses.

To avoid downtime and the performance disruption that accompanies it, financial institutions’ IT teams need complete end-to-end visibility into the threats against their network. This allows organisations to monitor networks and applications regardless of where they are hosted or where users access them.

Additionally, to fully understand and secure an organisation’s network, IT teams should conduct proactive synthetic tests, ensuring application functionality and simulating real user traffic respectively. These tests help measure the quality of the user experience and get ahead of performance issues before users themselves encounter negative impacts.

Furthermore, early warning capabilities, alerting and reporting allow IT experts to quickly address service issues and reduce mean time to repair (MTTR) degradations, enabling them to identify why slowdowns in the service are occurring whilst also reclaiming time lost due to ticket reassignment.  Organisations can also use visibility tools for post-mortem allowing them to build a detailed repository of information based on previous issues they have encountered, helping them to deal with future challenges more effectively and efficiently.

By carefully monitoring their network and services and implementing planned downtime and regular maintenance, financial organisations can avoid the damaging losses that can ensue following outages and unplanned network downtime.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *