Cyber Monday Success: Managing the Network and Security for More Sales
For retailers, Black Friday used to be the bellwether and focal point of the year, driving profits annually. But with herds of consumers forming lines in the wee hours only to create chaos on the showroom floor, the proposition of saving a few bucks is losing luster. With the convenience of online shopping, Cyber Monday has begun to overshadow its more traditional counterpart.
According to the National Retail Federation, there were 81 million online shoppers on Cyber Monday 2017. In fact, a 2017 holiday shopping survey revealed that Cyber Monday is slowly overtaking Black Friday, in a trend continuing from 2016. With a breakdown of 71 percent of consumers planning to shop on Cyber Monday, as opposed to 69 percent on Black Friday.
While these numbers are exciting for online businesses, profiting on this bonanza is not always easy. In order to succeed, an IT infrastructure underpinning must be a strategic component of seasonal planning.
The IT Equation: How to Manage the Customer Surge
Adobe Data’s analysis of last Cyber Monday found an 11.9 percent increase in web traffic. To manage this fluctuation, retailers must invest in more web server power or risk crashing a site and alienating consumers. With the proliferation of behemoth cloud service providers, companies are supplementing their own infrastructure to manage the surge, but boosting web server capacity and storage is only one element to success during this pinnacle of holiday shopping.
Another element of the IT equation is network capacity and bandwidth–the very backbone of the entire enterprise.
This time of year can create a serious networking headache for an IT team. It can truly become a quintessential “chicken or the egg” or Catch 22 scenario: Should you contract additional bandwidth that you might not need or suffer the consequences of disrupted sales? Neither option is particularly attractive.
The reality is, the busy holiday season can place a major strain on network capacity with an onslaught of traffic that might only take place once or twice a year. It doesn’t make sense to upgrade bandwidth that might never be used. But, of course, many traditional providers are more than happy to sell additional bandwidth and extended contracts, which will be paid in full whether or not it is used.
To be strategic and successful when bandwidth demands are unpredictable, network flexibility and visibility are essential.
Critical Network Capabilities for Cyber Monday Success
- Understand how the network “behaves” to make sound decisions. Network visibility is key to identify bottlenecks and anticipate fluctuations in order to avoid outages and lost sales. Proactive alerts with adjustable settings can help warn you before problems arise.
- Ensure you have the capability to toggle bandwidth up and down as needed without incurring excessive costs. Customers should be able to do this themselves, using self-serve online portals that are instantly responsive.
- Be able to automatically schedule bandwidth increases and only pay extra when needed, taking the sting out of additional expenditures.
- Add direct connections to cloud providers in order to guarantee a consistent application experience for SaaS applications. Look for vendors that offer direct cloud connections backed by service level agreements.
- Use unlimited segmentation capabilities to divide the network into subnetworks or discrete virtual networks, where you can prioritize performance and improve security by applying stringent security policies.
Masergy’s secure hybrid network provides advanced, real-time analytics and controls to keep pace with additional bandwidth needs. Plus, Masergy makes it all happen through a software defined platform, which means immediate responsiveness and more flexibility. Traditional providers could take many days to increase or decrease bandwidth. This lack of agility just can’t keep pace with today’s fast-moving digital demands. Between the analytics to anticipate additional bandwidth needs and the ability to accelerate in real-time via a self-serve online portal, Masergy can be an ecommerce provider’s best friend.
The Security Equation: How to Manage Overwhelmed, Susceptible Teams
Spikes in network traffic can also create increased opportunities for a cyber attack. Criminals will often use the distractions of the holiday rush as a prime time to infiltrate a network. Targeted phishing campaigns might become more likely during peak season. When team members are overwhelmed and focused on managing legitimate traffic, they are more susceptible to inadvertently activating an attachment in a fraudulent email.
It is important to have systems in place to diligently monitor network traffic with both automated tools and 24/7 monitoring from security experts. When traffic is elevated, this task can become even more overwhelming.
Critical Security Capabilities for Cyber Monday Success
- Ensure your employees have security training to address peak-season vulnerabilities
- Leverage security ecosystems with behavioral analytics that build normal network profiles for faster, more accurate detection of unauthorized access. These systems can retain and continuously enhance baseline knowledge, quickly differentiating between on-peak and off-peak behavior.
- Avoid a patchwork of disparate security products that are silo-ed and cannot provide consistent and scalable controls across all SaaS applications. Managed Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) solutions offer end-to-end data and threat protection for all applications on any device.
- Utilize network visibility tools that record and synthesize historical and real-time data to accelerate security investigations.
- Expand your internal IT team by partnering with a Managed Security Service Provider that provides 24/7 monitoring from tenured professionals.
Masergy’s managed security solutions offer an integrated ecosystem of detection and response tools, advanced analytics, and 24/7 monitoring services that can help give you the peace-of-mind that your network will remain safe during this year’s holiday scramble.
Let the Shopping Begin
Cyber Monday and the remainder of the holiday season are critical times that can make or break success for online retailers. Paying attention to IT infrastructure--especially the network and security components--must be a top priority.
Happy online shopping and happy holidays!