Jun 18, 2024

What Are the Top 5 Causes of Remote Device Downtime?

Misconfigurations, power + network issues, software problems, and more — the top causes of downtime for kiosks, smart lockers, security systems, and other connected products.

Justin Owings
Trends & Insights

Millions of people interact with — and depend on — connected products every day. 

Yet not all connected products are the same:

👉 Connected products exist for personal use — smart thermostat or appliance.
👉 Connected products exist for work — printers and access control
👉 Connected products exist in the public space — parking kiosks, intercoms, smart lockers, hundreds more

This last category of connected products is a kind of unattended technology that includes everything from smart lockers and digital signage to camera systems, sports simulators, and more. 

By their nature, this kind of unattended connected product is especially complicated, built to provide a unique technological solution. They are systems designed to combine proprietary software, hardware, peripherals, and internet connectivity to do some job semi-autonomously.

These connected products must stay up-and-running without extensive oversight because if they go down, there’s rarely technical support standing by, ready to fix whatever is wrong.

What Happens When Connected Products Stop Working?

When a connected product malfunctions, it dominos into other problems fast.

For example, a security system that fails to alert because of a faulty sensor could mean unmitigated disaster — as with a building fire detector or theft that goes undetected because of a malfunctioning security camera. Or what happens when a building access system fails to let a resident into their building at 3AM? Imagine the frustration of a smart locker that won’t provide access to purchased goods.

Once connected products are deployed, businesses, customers, and other users count on them to work. Service interruptions — device downtime — sets off chain reactions of problems that add up to increased costs (e.g. site visits by technicians, trial-and-error remote intervention by technical support teams, etc.), lost revenue, and ongoing damage to brands.

Device downtime quickly adds up, becoming an expensive problem.

Like anything, solving downtime — and mitigating risks of failure for connected product fleets — begins with awareness.

Attacking downtime starts by understanding its primary causes.

Recent research from Canopy focused on studying downtime drivers for connected products like kiosks, etc. We analyzed over 200,000 inbound support tickets from the remote support operations of over 100,000 remote devices. We also studied the operational and organizational structure of eleven companies.

Overcoming Downtime | 2024 research from Canopy

We turned the results of this work into a report titled Overcoming Downtime.‍ What follows is a glimpse into those findings — for a more in-depth look, including remote resolution pathways (and their likelihood of success), benchmarks for technical support teams, and more, get the free report

What follows is a glimpse of what you'll find in that report — the top five causes of downtime for connected products.

The Top 5 Causes of Downtime for Kiosks, Smart Lockers, POS Systems, Security Systems, and Other Connected Products

Below are the top five primary drivers of downtime based on an analysis of over 200K inbound support tickets impacting smart lockers, self-checkout kiosks, camera systems, and other connected products. These issues add up to nearly two thirds of downtime issues for remote devices:

  1. 18.1% ‍Configuration Issue
  2. 14.5% Network Issue
  3. 11.8% Software Application Issue
  4. 10.9% Power Issues
  5. 10.6% OS Issue

The remaining one-third issues that cause downtime for remote devices include 6.9% Bill Reader / Dispenser, 6.3% Touch Screen, 5.4% Printer, 4.4% Part Replacement, and 3.4% Camera, 2.4% PC Issue, 1.5% Credit Card (CC) Reader,1.3% Sound/Speaker, 1.2% False Positive, 1.0% Keyboard, and 0.3% False Installation.

Each of the top five primary drivers represents a category of related downtime issues. For example, within the downtime driver of Configuration Issue, Wrong Device Settings cause some 60% of misconfiguration problems. For Network Issue, Loss of Service is the problem nearly 50% of the time.

See the remaining breakdown of the top five downtime causes below:

You may work on a specific type of connected product, and that product surely uses a unique combination of OS, proprietary software, a PC (or tablet or mobile device), network connected and power, and additional peripheral devices.

But despite it being unique, what’s surprising is how universal the problems it experiences are to other similarly complicated products.

Yes, even when a connected products appears different, it can still deal with common remote device management concerns. That means that the remote resolution pathways available to solve those issues are often similar, and the means to solve those issues remotely the same too.

Another surprise? 

The most difficult issues — e.g. loss of Internet or power — are only a small fraction of the total, making up in total about 15% of downtime. That leaves the remaining 80+% of issues “on the table” for technical support teams to solve from a remote location, either directly or at scale as with an automated process.

For example, let’s take a closer look at resolving downtime issues related to remote device settings.

How do you reduce device downtime?

Get our new 2024 report to discover the top causes of remote device downtime and how you can resolve them.

Resolving Downtime for Remote Device Settings

“Remote Device Settings” represent 60% of Misconfiguration problems. Do the math, and that means that more than 1 in 10 of the remote device support tickets we examined (more than 20K tickets) were due to incorrect settings for some component of the remote device.

Using your remote monitoring and management software (or remote device management software), you should be able to automate a process that compares device settings to a baseline configuration. The automation can then make changes to remote device settings automatically, compare the settings to baseline again, and continue the process until the remote device has settings that are a perfect match to baseline.

In our research, we found that the chance of success when using this resolution path was as high as 90%. Best of all, this is the kind of process that a sufficiently advanced remote device management platform could do automatically, before any problems even occur.

Connected Product Downtime Is a Preventable Issue 

For remote device network operators and businesses that must manage and maintain hundreds, or even thousands of connected products and remote devices for their clients, success depends upon sustained uptime. 

Know that downtime for kiosks, security systems, smart lockers, and more is a manageable issue. Product and technical support teams use Canopy to automate remote device management and proactively attack downtime.

For more about how to overcome downtime including an infographic detailing the top 15 drivers of downtime and the remote resolutions to deal with them, get our new, free report.

Justin Owings
Justin Owings is the Vice President of Marketing at Canopy. He's responsible for sharing how connected product people attack downtime through automating remote device management.

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