Over half of enterprises have been subject to a major IT fault in the past three months according to Compuware-backed report, with an average cost to the business of £6.9 million.

A survey of 304 IT and line of business executives from Europe and other regions, conducted by research firm Intellitrends, found that 51 percent of respondents had experienced a 'major' technology problem at their company in the last three months, while an overwhelming majority, 79 percent, had experienced at least one fault in the past year.

Furthermore, three quarters, 75 percent, said that the frequency of failures is either staying the same or increasing.

The research found that these outages are costing significant amounts of money for businesses too, averaging a 'short term cost' of £6.9 million for those affected. This includes product waste costs of £504,000, product recall of £2 million, and sales and marketing of £8.3 million.

The survey also revealed that the typical response to a failure was to invest in new hardware and software, which correlates with 51 percent of respondents blaming these elements for outages. Utility failure, 22 percent, and security threats, 16 percent, were also a factor.

The second most popular course of action was to improve IT training, a move favoured more by line of business executives, 35 percent, than IT staff, 24 percent.

The findings of the report reflect a number of high profile outages in the recent times, not least in the financial sector which has been dogged by numerous IT-related problems. A botched software update by a junior employee cost RBS an estimated £175 million last year as millions of customers were left unable to access accounts, while, more recently, Lloyds Banking Group blamed a router problem for TSB's internet banking service falling down on its launch day.

"This demonstrates our reliance on IT and the direct impact on revenues, relationships and reputations when technology does not work as it should," comments Michael Allen, director of APM for Compuware. "The figures really are eye watering - especially when you consider the fact that these are not isolated events.

"Many companies are fire-fighting problems on a daily or weekly basis, haemorrhaging money and damaging the long-term health of their organisation. Despite this, companies are still not taking performance management seriously, as shown by the fact that three quarters are failing to reduce the number of incidents that are occurring."

He concluded: "Companies should be taking a proactive approach to performance management so that they can identify and remedy potential problems before they have time to impact on the business."