Click to catch up on post one (intro), post two (efficiency), post three (agility) or post four (performance) in this series.

Online banking, shopping, even interactive branding in shops and just-in time logistics: IT isn’t just an operational part of business – it is, increasingly, the bedrock of the majority of businesses. A failure in IT is a failure to the brand as its impact is felt instantly by consumers (this is core to my ‘brands and factories’ thesis).

High-profile systems failures at all kinds of business continue to demonstrate the reputational consequences of downtime. Increasingly, the guarantee of availability, constant access and enhanced security are becoming an opportunity to differentiate a brand.

The trust imperative is one of the issues limiting the progress of public cloud in the enterprise. The hours or days of downtime that you might have to contend with when faced with the 99.9% or 99.99% availability of public cloud services are still intolerable to businesses that cannot afford the risk of experiencing that 0.1% of downtime during a critical transaction, event or time-of-year.

Take the UK for example: In organisations with a minimum of 100 employees, the average UK business loses $611,375 annually as a result of unplanned downtime according to EMC’s IT Trust Curve study. If you incorporate the reputational impact of downtime in an age of social media, the picture is much worse.

Cyber risk planning should form a key part of business planning and IT investment, particularly for corporate giants, many of whom are targeted thousands of times per day. Areas to focus on include the use of a software-defined data centre to enable rapid, dynamic shifting of computing resource in the event of downtime. In addition, as previously discussed, Flash storage provides a more robust means of serving-up valuable corporate data. And, importantly, a more nuanced view of security information delivered through today’s sophisticated analytics will help organisations predict and pre-empt potential risks.