By Dirk Paessler, CEO of Paessler

Across the UK, more and more businesses are transforming into digitised enterprises. SMEs, established and new, are using a myriad of technology for day-to-day business operations –from selling products, to marketing, managing employees, and talking to customers.

As research by Lloyd’s Bank in 2014 shows, investment in digital technology will have a positive effect on enterprises and is linked strongly to success and growth. What’s more, the research revealed that the more digitally advanced a business is, the more confident it is in its performance and prospects.

But of course, the more we use digital technology the more we come to depend on it. Business can be seriously hampered if your company website or online shop goes down, or if you can’t access internal databases. Yet, despite the many problems that can result if high-performance IT networks fail, a significant number of small businesses still aren’t taking the necessary steps to maintain reliable IT systems. Research by Paessler found that 42% of UK SMEs are not using software, such as unified monitoring tools, which could help them to diagnose and resolve IT problems before they bring the business to a halt.

Without software designed specifically to counter these issues, a business will find itself spending valuable time locating and fixing problems that could be easily avoided. Research we conducted last year found that SMEs spend an average of 2.5 hours per week, equivalent to an entire working day each month, resolving common IT network problems. For a small business this is an enormous waste of time and money.

In fast growing businesses, it is understandable that IT management might not be a top priority for owners or directors. Recruiting, marketing and managing cash flow are far more likely to take precedence. But failing to properly take control of your IT network can have serious repercussions for your business. Expanding staff numbers, more customers and more transactions means a greater load on your IT, so keeping tabs on the technology crucial to business operation is all the more imperative.

A couple of examples of rapidly growing start-ups that suffered IT failures provide a cautionary tale for SMEs. Soundcloud, a Swedish online audio distribution platform, had a database crash in May 2014 that resulted in its website not responding for several hours. Another notorious network failure happened recently at Uber. The private cab hailing app angered taxi drivers in many of the countries Uber has expanded into, leading them to demonstrate against the company. Last year during a protest, thousands of curious journalists and consumers flocked to Uber’s app and website to get to the bottom of why it was causing such controversy. This increased web traffic crashed Uber’s system.

So what can companies do to prevent these disruptive faults? The first step to solving a problem is identifying it, which can sometimes be the hardest and most time consuming part. Unified monitoring tools, however, detect problems in a company’s system before they escalate. They alert companies to everything from low ink in a printer to security breaches and unresponsive websites. Fixing these issues before they impact employees and customers will save time, money, and help protect a growing competition’s reputation. It’s a simple but effective way for a business of any size to safeguard its business from coming to a standstill and maintaining customer confidence.