Preparing IT for when demand returns

Businesses are familiar with seasonality. If you’re a retailer, you know your sales are going to surge around Black Friday events and Christmas. If you’re a travel business, you know school holidays often drive the peaks and troughs in the calendar year, and largely you can prepare for those. What might not be so easy to predict is how a near global shut down in 2020 has affected your demand schedule for 2021 – will it come back slowly or overnight, and has it altered the usual seasonality of your business? What pressure will those changes put on your IT infrastructure – and when?

Technology must keep up with the demands of any business – we’ve read the horror stories of eCommerce sites falling over under the strain of a surge in demand. The recent Sony PS5 launch simultaneously crashed the John Lewis, Game and Tesco sites with the surge in orders. So how can you prepare now for the peaks that are coming?

  1. Consider when demand is likely to occur and stop making changes to IT around those times. Take into account your capacity management, keeping check on performance and loads to your infrastructure. With virtualised infrastructure, it’s necessary to use the correct tools that may alert you to any potential problems around capacity or resilience, and it means you have sight of when to put larger IT projects or changes to your systems on hold in order to concentrate on sustaining ‘business as usual’.

  2. Weigh up the knock-on effect of a surge in demand to your service desk. If your infrastructure isn’t ready for the changes to business, calls to your service desk will also increase. It could be something as simple as furloughed workers needing password resets. If you’re able to predict events like this and instigate password resets now it will save time and service desk calls down the line.

  3. Organisations that have a large number of employees will also be aware of a ‘return to work’ surge around access to information. If we take the example of airline staff accessing critical systems to obtain their flight schedules, instigate visa applications or just deal with simple HR queries – in their entirety those requests from thousands of employees at once must be anticipated in terms of the strain on the network - and planned for.

  4. At the most basic level, consideration for renewed demand to store documents and data on the network also means that storage capacity, back-up and restoration must match those requirements.

  5. Don’t forget the how the physical affects the digital. You may not have been in the office for much of 2020, so having a check list of technology assets to account for prior to any return to normal working practices is a good idea, and it should take place now. Are all your office printers networked correctly, are laptops in good order, is security up to date, can your employees access the carpark with their ID passes – is everything working as it should?

  6. It’s no secret that with increased remote working, cyber security breaches have also increased, and organisations have become more vulnerable to attack. Preparing for a surge in demand now will mean less likelihood of errors. Ensure your employees are secure on the network, passwords are watertight, and they have the ability to share information and documents. Failure to do so may prevent your organisation from getting back up to speed as fast as demand allows. Worse, any security crisis may seriously hamper a return to normal and an inability to capitalise on demand.

 

How pent-up demand for products and services might affect your business overnight is difficult to predict, but organisations that put their IT estate in order will be in the best possible position to hit the ground running and capitalise on any changes to seasonality or surges in demand. No organisation wants to be let down by its IT strategy. Working with a managed services provider means that much of your checklists are taken care of and any demand to your networks or data centres are managed around the clock by experts.

 

Are you prepared for when demand returns?

IT Naturally is a Peterborough-based IT Infrastructure Managed Services Provider that helps organisations run, secure and transform their infrastructure services. It helps customers plan, improve, secure and maintain their IT infrastructures, delivering successful outcomes that are designed to be simple, manageable and aligned to the customer’s business strategies.