See things clearly

On my way to meet friends the other day, I took a train to Waverley Station, the main railway terminal in Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh.


Although I was looking forward to the get-together, the tail-end of a heavy cold meant that I wasn’t feeling 100% fit.


As I made my way out of the station, I was delighted to discover that, as an alternative to the fearsomely steep steps on the main exit route from the building, escalators had been installed.


But my delight was short-lived – the new ‘Up’ escalator was ‘Out of Order’.  So I had to press ahead with an ascent of the steps.


The summit was eventually reached, but on legs of jelly.


Later I discovered that the software system that controlled the escalators, installed as part of a £7 million pound refurbishment of the entrance to the station, was to be completely scrapped - the escalators had broken down repeatedly since they had been installed.


I had been the victim of a Network Rail ‘data flow disaster’. 


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


As the world becomes more interconnected, without clarity on flows of data, we will experience more of these events, both personally and in business.


Here are some examples of business data flow disasters that have come to light in the past few days alone:


  • A failed computer system upgrade at TAB Bank resulted in truckers being unable to use their bank cards to buy fuel and keep their vehicles on the road.


  • NASA disclosed recently that mission systems had been subject to cyber attack, and hackers had been able to ‘steal information and manipulate high-profile user accounts.’


  • News International has admitted to experiencing problems with its online paywall, which has led to customers being charged for subscriptions they cancelled several months previously.


  • A worldwide outage hit the Windows Azure cloud service because a programming error caused a, ‘time calculation that was incorrect for the leap year’. 


  • Caixa Economica Federal bank’s data centre was damaged by a power overload in the city of Brasilia.  Several lottery outlets shut down, and bank services like bill payments and withdrawals were unavailable.


  • Despite months of preparation, United Continental Holdings suffered check-in kiosk malfunctions at airports as it combined booking systems from two separate airlines.


Whether filling up a fuel tank, sending rockets out into space, or simply selling a lottery ticket, businesses today rely on flows of data.


And when data stops flowing, or otherwise flows incorrectly...businesses have a problem.


That is why it is critical to have clarity on precisely how data flows.




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