BA Shows Firms Can't Wing It When It Comes to IT Outages.

Author:Walton, Mike

This summer passengers have witnessed a litany of travel disruptions. Strikes, train troubles and IT failures have led to hours of interruptions and disturbances which have affected thousands. One, if not the most affected company has to be British Airways, which has not only been threatened with yet another strike, but has also witnessed another catastrophic IT failure. After the embarrassment of its previous IT issues, you might have thought the company had learnt its lesson. Apparently not.

British Airway's latest faux pas highlights yet again how even the biggest firms are failing to get their IT ecosystems in order. Despite previous disruptions costing it millions, the issue has evidently not been prioritised and lightning has struck yet again, causing chaos for customers and staff. Although this was a relatively minor outage compared to previously, for an airline which carries up to 145,000 passengers a day, think of the financial and reputational damage this is causing and on a fairly regular basis. Even the way it was described a "glitch"--downplayed the severity of the issue which many at the company are failing to address; the IT infrastructure is not being looked after properly--it is failing the firm and its customers and something has to change now.

The glitch in whatever guise demonstrates how small liabilities which may seem innocuous can cascade into bigger, more costly faults. If unfit IT strategies keep being employed then the situation will never be fixed--but what can British Airways and other businesses in a similar position (RBS, Visa etc) do to ensure regular uptime and improved performance?

Go back to the source.

Just like BA will check every plane after a flight to check its health, this rigour must be applied to its IT architecture. This means going back to basics and completing a rudimentary health check. It's surprising how hygiene-factor anomalies can be missed, which can snowball and turn into a devastating wrecking-ball. An example of this is website certificates--a necessary but relatively minor part of IT architecture. However, when Marketo's automatic domain renewal failed, it caused the primary domain to go down, leading to disruption for thousands of users who rely on the software for tracking user interactions. Just this small oversight caused hyperlinks and images to disappear from client emails--leading to lost leads for marketers across the world. Suddenly when put in context the issue seems a lot...

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