Catastrophe – something we’d rather forget

Northernrock2 Enough whingeing – back to business.  I enjoyed this rather provocative article by the chief executive of Garlik (and former technical head of Egg) on the BBC site about how to organise for peaks of high processing. He points out that letting the system crash may be a perfectly valid IT strategy. Because if customers put it down to a network failure – the equivalent of a powercut, there won’t be lasting damage. By contrast building a system which never falls over is expensive because of all the extra capacity you keep on standby. And no more likely to work on the spike when everyone is trying to withdraw their money at the same time.  He also suggests that the hapless IT director may find himself in considerable demand as the only IT director who has lived through a run on a bank in real time. Well there’s another way to look at it.  I found it a vivid reminder that there is more to a crisis in a service business than reputation management. If you can inhibit behaviour you repress recall and attitudinal shifts – you literally can’ make up your mind.  I’m sure to be shouted down by those who have been queing all night outside of Northern Rock branches. Oh all right then – that’s behaviour with a consequence. But throwing the keyboard at the wall and deciding you’ll try to log on again in the morning may be the best thing – if you can’t engage with the bank then mebbe you’ll calm down – listen to the politicians – and do nothing.

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