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The survey of chief information officers at 80 Fortune 1,000 companies in the US found that, on average, the businesses were losing £4.8m a year owing to misconfigured routers and accidental disconnection of networks.
Jeff Wilson, principal analyst at Infonetics Research, said, "It is a lot of money and relates to the lost productivity caused by the outage." The UK was unlikely to face similar problems, he added.
Wilson found that although outright network failure did occur on business networks, the main problem was a slow degradation in performance that went unnoticed. He said, "Degradations in performance over time tend not to be reported and so they go uncorrected."
Although tools to measure this degradation do exist, Wilson said businesses tend to solve the obvious network problems first and performance issues were given much lower priority.
Stan Hulme, group IT manager at Bland Bankart, agreed that human error was the cause of many network problems. He said every change made to a network contains a degree of risk, which should never be ignored.
"Good planning to reduce downtime should incorporate an impact analysis, training, testing, sign-off controls and a contingency scenario," he said.