In a now well-known editorial, Marc Andreessen stated that, “software is eating the world.” This insightful observation has even more truth today than when it was first written in 2011. For example, the price scanner breaks at Starbucks, and the line of cars backs up into the street; or temperature sensors malfunction on the freezers in your local grocery store, and it has to throw away thousands of dollars worth of food.

How does an enterprise make sure that every customer interaction is successful or even great? To start, you have to watch and measure everything. So that means sensors everywhere! Next you have to intelligently gather the information and communicate meaningfully – with a human. Employee or customer, both have unique needs and are connected to your product, service and business processes. Software, specifically cloud software, makes this a reality.

The Internet of Everything helps business move at such an extreme pace. So it’s a little jarring to see how helpless businesses become when one of these sensors, connected devices or failsafe processes stops working.

This juxtaposition seems mystifying at first. But at second glance, it’s inevitable. After all, the reason we automate is precisely so we don’t have to monitor. Automation is one less thing to worry about – until it becomes one more thing to worry about.

The First Five Minutes Count

How an IT or DevOps organization communicates during the first few minutes of a service outage is crucial – businesses are negatively impacted by even a IT outage lasting only a few minutes.

A recent survey of more than 300 IT professionals by Dimensional Research reveals that finding the right person to restore service takes at least 15 minutes. While IT searches for the right individual, the business is often suffering.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some ways reduce business downtime and improve the customer interaction significantly:

Implement a major incident plan: Have contact information for incident resolvers automated into your processes and for those you can’t automate, implement a full process that everyone knows and follows. Finding a major incident manager to rectify critical issues can take 20 minutes, but it really shouldn’t take more than one to two.

Let a major incident manager handle it: Events change and every minute counts. Without a trained, experienced and level-headed professional making the important decisions, the incident resolution team is a body without a head. The leader can hand pick the people for job to resolve it quickly.

Use the right tools to assemble a resolution team: Manually assembling a team by working with a spreadsheet or instant messaging can take the better part of an hour. Automated intelligent communication systems can automatically target and alert the required individuals needed to produce a resolution and rectify the disruption. If those individuals don’t answer, the system can automate escalation to another person with the required skills to resolve the issue.

Be transparent: If everyone is transparent with communications, the major incident manager can designate someone other than resolvers to proactively communicate what happened and next steps to customers, partners, marketing and public relations teams and executives. The distraction of resolvers communicating to customers while working to restore service can lead to errors and longer delays. Communication transparency allows resolvers to focus on the task at hand to get the business back up and running as quickly as possible.

Keeping a major IT incident a secret was cool when pegged jeans were cool. Missing service-level agreements (SLA) sucks – no one wins. Be intelligent with your communication software and your communication processes so when a technology-related business incident does occur, your business can stay ahead of the game.