Everyday Computing, Features, Technology

When Things Go Wrong

By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant
By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant

LET’S be honest with ourselves and admit that things will occasionally go wrong. In a well-designed system, a failure should only cause some minor annoyance instead of disruption. In an earlier article (“Single Points of Failure”, March 26th 2015), we even saw how redundancy could be employed to prevent a single failure from causing an entire process to fail.

Unfortunately, even in a well-designed system, your plans can be affected by external events, so it would be wise to plan to manage such risks. What happens when something goes wrong and you have no control over it? For example, at the beginning of your business day, you suffer one of the following mishaps:

* An unexpected power outage;
* Loss of your broadband internet; or
* All of your computers crash at the same time.

Although some of these mishaps can be planned for — and even avoided — consider what happens if another failure occurs, and your ICT-enabled business is unable to fully function. In this scenario, your computer systems have been taken off-line by an event which you never expected. What is your response to deal with this situation? Do you turn away your customers, close-up shop, contact your service providers, and wait for them to rescue you from this dread predicament?

Some types of business are better able to cope with failure than others, and your reaction may be partly determined by your specific industry. If the traffic-lights fail, a uniformed traffic officer may be dispatched to the busy intersection to control the traffic situation.

In your own business, could your cope similarly with an outage that affected your operations?

Fortunately, you could take some simple steps to identify how susceptible you are to such mishaps. In your risk planning, and your business continuity planning sessions, you should imagine scenarios where your day-to-day reliance on the technology and machinery is questioned. After all, we live in a part of the world where storms, hurricanes, downed power lines, and other infrastructure damage sometimes takes place.

Here are a few examples of how you might react to failures:

* The cash register has failed, so you use a pocket calculator;
* Your card payment machine is offline, you accept payment by cheque;
* Your email server has gone down, so you use the phone or fax machine;
* Phone lines are down too, so use a mobile phone and social media apps;
* No 4G mobile phone signal, then you need to get creative!

Managing your risk relies partly on your creativity, your imagination, and your attitude.

What will you do when things go wrong? They sometimes will.

Please continue to share your views on these articles. Contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The VOICE.

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