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Protecting and maintaining brand reputation is essential for any company. As a result, it is essential for enterprises to proactively monitor and manage all activities- operational and experiential – that influence a consumer’s overall brand experience. Ignorance involving any aspect of business operations will result in ongoing, significant consequences. It will damage a corporation’s reputation; adversely impact customers; result in operational inefficiencies, business losses and potential litigation; and even criminal penalties. It also raises the corporation’s risk of non-compliance with crucial local, state, federal and international industry regulations.

This is especially true for firms in fast-paced, competitive and highly regulated industries, including but not limited to the food, hospitality, hotel, restaurant, retail and transportation vertical markets. Typically, these organizations have dozens, hundreds or even thousands of stores, restaurants and hotels located in multiple, geographically remote locations. They must collect, aggregate and analyze a veritable data deluge in real-time. And they must respond proactively and take preventative measures to correct issues as they arise. Organizations that do business across multiple states and internationally, face other challenges. They must synchronize and integrate processes and data across the entire enterprise. Businesses must also ensure that every restaurant, hotel or retail store in the chain, achieves and maintains compliance with a long list of complex standards, health and safety laws.

ITIC’s research indicates that companies across a wide range of industries are deploying a new class of Quality Experience Management software. These solutions let businesses access the latest information on daily operations, policies, procedures and safety mechanisms in an automated fashion. They also let companies take preventative and remedial action irrespective of time, distance or physical location.

Quality Experience Management software with built-in Business Intelligence tools can deliver immediate and long-term benefits and protect the corporate brand. ITIC’s customer-based research shows that RizePoint, based in Salt Lake City, UT – with 20 years’ experience in audit compliance monitoring, reporting and correction – is the clear market leader. Its software delivers brand protection and risk mitigation with mobile and cloud capabilities, increasing efficiency and productivity.

Overview

Non-compliance is expensive, risky and unacceptable.

This is true of all companies – from the smallest organizations with fewer than 25 employees to the largest multinational global enterprises of over 10,000 employees regardless of vertical market.

Damage to the corporation’s brand and reputation due to non-compliance can be severe and protracted. In worst-case scenarios, a company’s brand may be so irreparably damaged that the firm goes bankrupt or out of business, altogether.

Firms that run afoul of requirements by authorities like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its compliance arm, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as well as international compliance and standards bodies like the European Union (EU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), risk severe criminal, civil and legal penalties.

These include fines, inspections/re-inspections and even jail time for company executives. The penalties may cost organizations, thousands, tens of thousands and, in extreme cases hundreds of thousands for each separate incidence or occurrence. Additionally, non-compliant corporations are at high risk of litigation from their business partners, vendors and customers at every juncture in the increasingly global supply chain. Corporations can also be sued by consumers.

The direct and indirect monetary penalties for regulatory non-compliance are high and growing ever more expensive as governments and their regulatory agencies enact new laws to safeguard their various global supply chains.

An organization’s reputation is one of its most valuable assets. Safeguarding the integrity of the corporate brand and the reliability of its daily operations via automated, Quality Experience Management software is imperative for every organization that expects to thrive and maintain the confidence and satisfaction of its customers – and comply with laws.

In the 21st century digital age of interconnected networks, no vertical industry is a standalone silo. Every market segment belongs to a macrocosm in which vendors and customers are linked by their inter-dependencies. Organizations that participate in the agri-food supply chain are also impacted by operations in a wide range of verticals including: finance; healthcare; retail; services; transportation (airlines, shipping and trucking) and weather, to name a few. In managing daily operations, companies in the food, restaurant, hospitality, hotel and retail industries must pay close attention to the goings-on in the aforementioned industries. Any issues with weather or shipping, for example could potentially disrupt business. The symbiotic and global nature of today’s business environment requires agility, scalability, innovation and automated real-time access to analyze data. Quality Experience Management software addresses the challenges of the data deluge.

Businesses that prosper in today’s complex economic environment and supply chain are increasingly turning to automated quality experience management tools that enable them to assess risks and make informed decisions. These solutions, which incorporate advanced data analytics and BI functionality, enable organizations to collect and analyze a wide variety of data. This involves monitoring ongoing daily, monthly, quarterly and annual operations, comparing and contrasting pricing and purchasing trends to gain a competitive edge over rivals, and increasing brand visibility in competitive markets. Fortunately, quality experience management tools are not only more affordable today than in the past, but they are easier to deploy, provision and use.

This emerging class of quality experience management tools obviates the need to use outmoded manual spreadsheets to perform and document the results of audits and inspections. Using spreadsheets to manually input data is complex and time-consuming. Additionally, it often fails to capture key pieces of data and manual updates are also more error-prone.  By contrast, use of quality experience management software tools that incorporate BI and analytics capabilities deliver immediate and tangible business benefits across a wide variety of vertical markets. These include:

  • Inspection information is now quickly and efficiently collected and shared.
  • Issues and concerns are immediately shared with regional executive management and the pertinent local managers who can take immediate remedial corrective and preventative action.
  • Line of business managers and C-level executives can utilize the data generated to identify key trends and compare results across the business, using audit data such as: compare/contrast data – including policies, procedures, revenue, safety issues, results of inspections and food and beverage quality across multiple locations throughout the enterprise in order to spot key trends on revenue, spending, pricing and compliance. This in turn empowers the business to make strategic business and technology decisions that can positively impact the bottom line, deliver a competitive advantage and avoid compliance issues or safety hazards before they occur.
  • Improved productivity among the corporation’s workers and increased customer satisfaction.

Conclusions

Maintaining and safeguarding a brand’s reputation requires consistent adherence to brand standards. RizePoint is clearly positioned as the Quality Experience Management market leader, with accelerated customer interest and adoption, and a clear and visionary product road-map that includes specific feature value for customers in the food service, retail and hospitality industries. RizePoint makes that easier by letting clients tap into the latest mobile and cloud technology.

That technology also makes it easier for corporations to ensure regulatory compliance. Clients can then use their next-generation auditing solution as the launching pad for important new business initiatives and opportunities.

Corporate enterprises across all vertical market segments should view auditing and compliance as core requirements. They are absolutely essential to guarantee that the organization effectively monitors, manages and maintains the highest policies and procedures for its ongoing daily operations. Quality Experience Management software solutions that incorporate analytics and BI capabilities also serve as tactical tools and strategic competitive assets that assist organizations in the food, hospitality, hotel and restaurant verticals can better meet and serve the needs of every customer, business partner and supplier in their supply chains.

 

The cost of downtime continues to increase as do the business risks. An 81% majority of organizations now require a minimum of 99.99% availability. This is the equivalent of 52 minutes of unplanned outages related to downtime for mission critical systems and applications or ,just 4.33 minutes of unplanned monthly outage for servers, applications and networks.                                         

 Over 98% of large enterprises with more than 1,000 employees say that on average, a single hour of downtime per year costs their company over $100,000, while an 81% of organizations report that the cost exceeds $300,000. Even more significantly: three in 10 enterprises – 33% – indicate that hourly downtime costs their firms $1 million or more (See Exhibit 1). It’s important to note that these statistics represent the “average” hourly cost of downtime.  In a worst case scenario – if any device or application becomes unavailable for any reason the monetary losses to the organization can reach millions per minute. Devices, applications and networks can become unavailable for myriad reasons. These include: natural and man-made catastrophes; faulty hardware; bugs in the application; security flaws or hacks and human error. Business-related issues, such as a Regulatory Compliance related inspection or litigation, can also force the organization to shutter its operations. For whatever the reason, when the network and its systems are unavailable, productivity grinds to a halt and business ceases.   

Highly regulated vertical industries like Banking and Finance, Food, Government, Healthcare, Hospitality, Hotels, Manufacturing, Media and Communications, Retail, Transportation and Utilities must also factor in the potential losses related to litigation as well as civil penalties stemming from organizations’ failure to meet Service Level Agreements (SLAs) or Compliance Regulations. Moreover, for a select three percent of organizations, whose businesses are based on high level data transactions, like banks and stock exchanges, online retail sales or even utility firms, losses may be calculated in millions of dollars per minute.

 Those are the results of ITIC’s 2017 Reliability and Hourly Cost of Downtime Trends Survey, an independent Web-based survey which polled over 800 organizations in April/May 2017. All categories of businesses were represented in the survey respondent pool: 24% were small/midsized (SMB) firms with up to 200 users; 25% came from the small/midsized (SME) enterprise sector with 201 to 1,000 users and 51% were large enterprises with over 1,000 users. 

These statistics are not absolute. They are the respondents’ estimates of the cost of one hour of hourly downtime due to lost revenue and lost end user productivity. Additionally, these figures do not take into account the cost of additional penalties for regulatory non-compliance or “good will” gestures made to the organization’s customers and business partners that were negatively impacted by a system or network failure. In fact, these two conditions can cause downtime costs to skyrocket even further.

The overarching message is clear: downtime of even a few minutes is expensive and unwelcome. Only two percent of enterprise respondents said that downtime costs their companies less than $100,000 in a single 60-minute time period. Downtime costs are similarly high for small and midsized businesses (SMBs) with one to 150 employees; some 47% of SMB survey respondents estimate that a single hour of downtime can cost their firms $100,000 in lost revenue and end user productivity. To reiterate these figures are exclusive of penalties, remedial action by IT and any ensuing monetary awards that are the result of litigation, civil or criminal non-compliance penalties.There is well documented evidence from a variety of sources that track the skyrocketing cost of downtime.  The expenses and losses associated with downtime continue to climb in the Internet age where business is conducted 24 x 7 across global time zones. Hourly losses of hundreds of thousands or millions per hour or even minutes in transaction-heavy environments are unfortunately commonplace.

 ITIC’s survey revealed that for large enterprises with over 1,000 employees, the costs associated with a single of hour of downtime are much higher, with average hourly outage costs topping the $5 Million (US Dollars) mark for nine specific verticals. These include: Banking/Finance; Government; Healthcare; Manufacturing; Media & Communications; Retail; Transportation and Utilities. The ITIC survey data revealed that although monetary losses topped users’ list of downtime concerns, it was not the only factor worrisome to organizations. The top six business consequences that concerned users are (in order):

  • Transaction/sales losses
  • Lost/damaged data
  • Customer dissatisfaction
  • Restarting/return to full operation
  • Damage to the company’s brand and reputation
  • Regulatory compliance exposure

The message is clear: unplanned downtime is costly and unacceptable from both a business and technology perspective. Organizations must proactively work with their infrastructure and cloud vendors to ensure the inherent reliability of their systems, applications and networks. This is imperative as the industry moves to interconnected Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystems.

ITIC’s coverage areas continue to expand and evolve based on your feedback. We will now feature Q&As with industry luminaries and experts discussing hot industry trends and technologies.

Longtime security professional, Stu Sjouwerman is the founder and CEO of KnowBe4.com a “New-school” IT security firm based in Tampa, Florida. It specializes in on-demand Internet Security Awareness Training (ISAT). The company’s goal is to enable organizations to quickly solve the increasingly urgent security problem of social engineering and avoid attacks before they occur. Sjouwerman also publishes an Electronic newsletter called Cyberheist News.

Prior to founding KnowBe4.com, Sjouwerman was president, CEO and founder of Sunbelt Software – now ThreatTrack Software which makes the VIPRE security package, originally developed by Sjouwerman and his team at Sunbelt Software. For 17 years he was also the editor of the popular WServerNews electronic newsletter which had a worldwide distribution of 400,000.  ITIC recently sat down and interviewed Sjouwerman about security threats, how companies can defend themselves and avoid common mistakes.

ITIC: Tell us about KnowBe4:

Stu Sjouwerman: We are the “new school” or next generation security awareness training. Old style security tactics and training don’t cut it anymore. In the Digital Age of sophisticated and dangerous Ransomware and increasingly dangerous and prolific Cyber attacks, it’s not enough to follow dos and don’ts. KnowBe4 offers training and advice to assist businesses in combating the latest threats. For example, we will perform fully automated simulated phishing attacks. This lets corporations identify who the culprits are in advance of an attack. It’s proactive and preventive. We train people to be well aware of all of the latest threats from Ransomware to Internet of Things (IoT)-based Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks to phishing attacks that are out there. Our main focus is on phishing attacks but it’s not our only focus.

ITIC: Ransomware attacks are happening with alarming frequency and the Wanna Cry attack on Friday, May 12th was the worst yet. To date it’s infected corporations in 150 countries and over 200,000 machines worldwide. Surprisingly, Security firms have stepped in with fixes and sound advice, but the threat of Wanna Cry and other Ransomware attacks still persists. What’s KnowBe4’s position?

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