Custom-written applications are hitting the UK’s financial organisations hard, says a survey from Vanson Bourne.

According to the research, 29 percent of financial institutions suffered losses amounting to more than $10,000 an hour in the past year, with 65 percent of organisations taking more than an hour to fix the problems.

The survey, which was sponsored by software company Managed Objects, found that financial organisations were particularly reliant on customised software, with 53 percent of a company’s software being written in-house.

According to Jim White, Managed Objects’ business technologist, the custom-written software is precisely the software that gives organisations a competitive advantage.

"If I use Microsoft Outlook In a particular way, I gain no advantage from that as other organisations will be using the software in a similar way. But a custom-written application that can monitor small changes in the financial market and gain a financial advantage from that could be hugely beneficial to the company. So, there will always be this dependency on custom-written software."

He added that all organisations had a huge volume of legacy software that drove many of their back-end functions and these added to the problem, which was exacerbated further by the front-ends to many of these processes. "What we’re dealing with is a complex set of inter-dependencies, where one small change in one part of the organisation could throw up a problem elsewhere."

White said that the problem was that conventional discovery tools designed for packaged software could not handle customised software.

The survey doesn’t tell the whole story though. According to the research, nearly 40 percent of IT outages are caused by hardware problems rather than faults with the software and Vanson Bourne didn’t split the cost of hardware-derived problems from software-derived ones.

White said that it was not a problem that would go away. The rise of virtualisation – while great for environmental reasons – and SOA would cause an added layer of complexity which would lead to more expensive downtime, he added.