O2 Outage – Lessons to Learn?

O2 OutageThe much reported O2 outage caused some inconvenience to those using O2 as a service provider which includes Tesco Mobile, GiffGaff, LycaMobile and Sky Mobile. According to newspaper reports, more than 30m users were affected.

While the O2 outage was relatively short and the impact minimal for most, there are a few lessons to be learned from this episode.

The first is our increasing reliance on smartphones and persistent data connections for so many everyday tasks that we take for granted. Apart from the obvious phone calls and emails, there were difficulties paying for parking, finding places (no satnav), and paying for things with online payment services. As we increasingly use smartphones for banking and  NFC contactless payments, and as more and more services rely on persistent data connections – for example traffic information systems – it’s easy to see how an extended outage of mobile or fixed line data services could have a significant impact on the economy.

In tech circles, there will be alarm (but no real surprise) that one of the largest networks in the UK could be brought down by what appears to be an expired software certificate from a supplier. Whether or not this turns out to be the case, you have to ask what happened to resiliency, testing and good old-fashioned record-keeping. The fact that O2 reported that ‘hundreds’ of people were working on this issue suggests either a huge level of complexity or a lack of understanding of infrastructure or operational activity – or perhaps a bit of both.

“We have hundreds of people from both Ericsson and O2 working around the clock to identify the issue … we’re confident we know what the issue is” – Mark Evans, O2 CEO (BBC)


Reaction to O2 outage on social media

While we should all be concerned about the risks of the small number of mobile network operators in the UK (O2, EE, Vodafone and Three), businesses could take note from the way O2 handled the crisis on social media.

There were, of course, the usual moaners and the instant claims for compensation from some on Twitter, but the general tone was good-natured, sympathetic and sometimes humorous.

This wasn’t really anything to do with social media per se, but rather a combination of good communication by O2 posting regular updates and responding quickly to customer comments. That and the rather important fact that the O2 network has a pretty good record of reliability.

While there were a few moaners and the usual over-dramatisation of the impact of a few hours without their social media fix, most comments were supportive of O2 staff and their efforts to resolve the problem.

Quite a few O2 fans emerged – and if O2 is smart they will be collecting testimonials – and some saw the humourous side of being ‘disconnected’ (although perhaps not getting the irony of having found a wifi hotspot to post their Twitter comments!).

No doubt the ire of the Twittersphere would have been unleashed eventually had the outage lasted much longer than it did, but from a customer service point of view, O2 appears to have come out of this episode reasonably well.

Undoubtedly, the media world will be touting this as another reason to increase your spend on social media, but the real story is that if you offer a decent service over a period of time, you can survive the odd hiccup.

If O2 is looking for somewhere to allocate budget right now, it should be to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.

All the marketing and PR in the world can’t hide poor service – and consumers and businesses may not be so forgiving next time. 

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Comments on Twitter were generally supportive...

O2 Outage on Twitter

...quite a few fans of O2 emerged...

...and many saw the funny side

O2 Outage Humour

Monzo – Crowdfunding Success

If you have been following Fintech disruptors, you’ll know that Monzo smashed its £20m crowdfunding in a matter of hours after going live.

£20 million isn’t big bucks in the banking world (or even the Fintech startup world), but interesting to see that customers were keen to invest in the company, even though shares aren’t listed and are currently an illiquid asset.

The most interesting aspects of the Monzo story are that they have been able to raise a significant amount of funding from crowdsourcing to supplement existing VC investment and that their customers actually appear to like the brand; something traditional retail banks will view with envy.

It remains to be seen whether Monzo will retain its high customer satisfaction rates as it gets into the nitty-gritty of lending and moves into business banking, but having a large number of customers as investors in the brand does put them in an interesting position.

With a customer base of over 1m and funding for growth, the traditional players in retail banking should be getting concerned. 

Whatever the future holds for Monzo, you can be sure they had one hell of a Christmas party!

Did you know ‘Green Monday’ was a thing?

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday a not so distant memory, did you know that ‘Green Monday’ was another ‘event’ for retail marketers to shout about?

Green Monday hasn’t been a big deal in the UK as yet, but no doubt that will change as we follow the global brands. It seems the second Monday in December is the biggest day for retail sales in the month – as first identified by eBay back in 2007. It makes sense – still time to order online and get delivery before Xmas and probably catches many who missed out on Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals.

Whatever you decide to call it, it means there will be more tech deals to be had – for consumers and business users – this week. 

Amazon is still pushing offers on its Amazon Business account, which will be an attractive proposition for many. Lots of businesses will already have a bit of shadow IT spend going through Amazon to bypass delays and restrictions of following traditional purchasing processes. An Amazon Business account will give you the opportunity to tidy this up, get some control over spending and for larger organisations integrate with your existing Vendor Management Systems.

You can bet Amazon will do a pretty good job as a platform for business supplies – and 3rd party vendors will have to adhere to their customer service standards if they want to sell on the Amazon Business platform, so you’ll likely get better support than you currently get from existing suppliers. 

More Tech News

Zopa Gets Banking License

Just as Monzo raises £20m from crowdfunding, fellow Fintech disrupter Zopa gets its banking license. With Revolut, Monzo, Zopa, N26, Starling and others, it’s exciting times in retail banking – at least if you are watching from a distance!

Quora Data Breach – 100m users this time

Another day, another security breach. This time Quora ‘fesses up to details of 100m users being compromised. Not such a big deal, you might think, but how many people use the same credentials for multiple accounts? If you haven’t already imposed multi-factor authentication (MFA) on your business accounts, don’t complain when you find you’ve been hacked or you have lost data (you may not even be aware of it!).

Drone Deliveries in Canada

A remote island in Northern Ontario is about to get a commercial drone delivery service, starting next year. Why does this matter? There’s been lots of talk about drone deliveries from Amazon, Google and others, but this kind of testing of commercial services will quickly establish the viability of delivery by drone. While this is starting in the backwaters of Canada, if technically reliable – and commercially successful – you’ll quickly see this kind of technology being rolled out in other environments. It might be a while before your Black Friday deals from Amazon are being delivered by drone, but there are many situations where drones could be used – for example in healthcare for transportation of drugs, blood and organs for transplant. If you have any doubts about the technical capability of drone technology, just look at what the military is doing with them!

NHS to ditch fax machines

It has been reported that the NHS will be banned from buying new fax machines and plans to phase out the use of fax by the end of March 2020. While some may be surprised that fax is so widely used within the health care sector, anyone who has seen the kind of technology that most hospital trusts and GP clinics operate with will hardly be surprised. This sounds like a simple directive but will require investment in other areas and there will be many knock-on effects that haven’t been considered (as usual). Digitising everything that currently goes through fax machines will inevitably open up some security holes and give Data Protection Officers more sleepless nights!

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Recommended Books

Rather than recommend a single business title, this week we’re handing over to Bill Gates to give you some ideas for holiday reading. In this short video, Bill tells us what titles he found inspiring over 2018.

Remember, by the rules of the internet, if you read what Bill reads, you too will become a successful billionaire – so get to Amazon and snap these up before they all sell out!

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