See things clearly

“Data flow disaster” is the term we use here at OBASHI for an event where a flow of data is interrupted or compromised, so that there is a negative business impact on those who use, or interact with, that flow of data.


During what has been an extraordinary few weeks for major IT problems, there have been numerous such events, around the world and across many business sectors.


Here are a few examples, in no particular order:

  • Payments - During the Olympics, 85,000 fans attending the match between Britain and the U.A.E at London’s Wembley Stadium could not make Visa payments, because the card payment system crashed.

  • Social - An “infrastructural double-whammy”, when two data centres failed simultaneously, brought down Twitter for two hours.  The company is now, "investing aggressively in our systems to avoid this situation in the future."

  • Banks - A technical failure at Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, caused the company to suspend all credit and debit cards.

  • Health  - In the U.S, health care IT system provider Cerner suffered a 6 hour outage of its remote hosting service, forcing medical staff around the country to resort to hand-written orders.

  • Education - 2% of students sitting part of their English diploma exam in Alberta, Canada, were affected by an online test malfunction.  The authorities have had to offer partial exemptions or rewrites, to students who chose not to accept the exam mark.

  • Finance - The value of shares in Knight Capital, a New York financial services business which buys and sells shares, plunged by 33% in one day, after its technical problems caused major disruption in the prices of over 140 shares on the Stock Exchange.

  • Telecoms – Korean telecommunications company, KT Telecom, suffered a prolonged hacking campaign, which was discovered only after the details of 8.7 million customers had been stolen and sold.

  • Entertainment - In San Diego, California, a scheduled 17 minute fireworks display lasted about 30 seconds because a computer had been accidentally set up to execute the wrong file.

Actually, I’m in two minds about classifying the fireworks display as a ‘disaster’.  As you can see in the video, it is still spectacular!


But generally speaking, when data doesn't flow in a business as it should, there usually isn't much cause for celebration.

Incidents like those described above have a cost not only in financial terms, but also in terms of reputation and customer confidence.  In my opinion, the future knock-on effects of such outages will increasingly include formal legal proceedings brought by those who feel they have suffered loss as a direct result of a "data flow disaster".

Mitigating that risk is just one good reason why it makes sense for today's business leaders to create clarity on precisely how data flows through the organisation.


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