See things clearly

Happy New Year to all OBASHI Thinkers!  This is our first blog of 2011 and we're starting as we mean to go on.


We are putting the finishing touches to our downloadable 'Lite' software, which automates the OBASHI Methodology, and we hope to make it available early February.  Consequently it's all hands to the pumps at the moment finishing Help files and recording user videos, which means I've not had time to think of a suitably light-hearted intro to this blog.  Which might be just as well, bearing in mind the number of businesses out there who could do with our software.

We blogged in October about the disastrous data flow error that cost £117 million.  Below are some more examples of data flow disasters, where, if companies had had more clarity about precisely how data flows through people, process and technology, they may have saved themselves a lot of trouble (and money).


Some of these cases may be considered careless, some unlucky; but whatever the explanation when data stops flowing as we expect it to, we have a problem.


In no particular order:


Hundreds of doctors suffered intermittent access to centralised healthcare IT systems following data centre downtime.  200 practices were affected for a number of hours, and staff had difficulty accessing medical records, appointment information and prescription details.


Computer security company Symantec was forced to write off $10,000,000 in revenue after a problem in its sales system stopped some customers from activating their Norton antivirus software.  The CEO said, "You'd sign up and there'd be a delay in getting your service activated...There was just a lag between the front-end system and the back-end system, but its all been corrected..."


Retailers in Central London were temporarily unable to accept card purchases after a water leak in a British Telecom exchange caused a short circuit and an equipment fire.  Tens of thousands of shoppers could not pay for goods electronically.


For several hours when online customers of the RBS and NatWest banks made payment transfers, the funds were debited from accounts but not credited.


On New Year's Eve 200,000 Lloyds TSB customers made duplicate payments to merchants because of a "systems error".  Some customers had bank cards automatically frozen and were automatically charged for overdrafts. Support staff at the 3rd party payment processing company [that is, the data processing company] responsible for operating the payment system were on holiday at the time.


During November a network hardware failure in one of PayPal's data centres caused a service interruption for all PayPal users around the globe.  Back-up systems did not come online as quickly as expected and the outage lasted several hours.  As a result merchants were unable to complete electronic transactions.


Skype suffered a severe 2-day outage when several of its 'supernodes' (which function as addressing and data routing hubs) went down.  The number of online users of Skype's internet telephony service dropped from 21 million to 2 million during the first few hours of the problem.


In most of the above cases compensation had to be paid to those affected by the problems caused by the changes in dataflow.  The aggregated amount of compensation must run into millions of dollars.


In each of these cases if the companies had created OBASHI Business and IT diagrams (B&ITs) and OBASHI Dataflow Analysis Views (DAVs) to show how data flowed through the business the chances of the problems arising would have been significantly reduced and a lot of money would not have been wasted.



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