If not I would be very surprised! Personally I have been shocked by the number of media articles referring to how ‘computer glitches’ have crippled enterprises during 2013. It seems that every week there is a press article on how IT problems have brought an organization to its knees. The latest being reported this morning in the UK by the BBC, where hundreds of outpatient appointments and a number of operations had to be postponed after computer systems failed at Scotland’s largest health board, the NHS in Glasgow. Unfortunately you don’t have to look far to see other countless examples – just type ‘computer glitch’ into a search engine – how many media articles did you find? I found around 25 separate examples during September 2013 alone! Examples ranging from financial trading markets with Nasdaq to the airline industry with JetBlue Airways.

This wide coverage of these IT problems highlights three areas:

  1. Technology really does fuel our world. Our reliance on technology is increasing at a tremendous velocity, both from a personal and business perspective. ‘Computer glitches’ are not just bad for the reputation of I&O but directly impact revenue and the overall corporate brand of the business in question. There has been much talk of the role of enterprise IT diminishing in some areas but these examples, to me, highlight why the role of the IT professional increases in importance with each day. It’s time for us to be proud of our profession, but we have to improve our approach to delivering technology based services by realizing that: 
  2. Our strategies in regards to IT Service Management (ITSM) are failing us. I can guarantee that many of the organizations that have experienced these computer glitches will also have adopted best practice ITSM frameworks such as ITIL. Clearly these processes are not working for these organizations. Best practices in regards to incident, problem, release and change management should have prevented these problems from happening. With technology being so important to the business what is required firstly is an appreciation of the value chain of technology services in the business. This involves understanding how technology fuels business processes and capabilities, right through to its relationship with real business customers. This value chain understanding should not just be an academic activity and every IT professional should clearly understand how their role enables the business to function, not just the IT department.

  3. Our approach to technology monitoring is not good enough for the digital economy. The simple fact is that many ‘computer glitches’ can be avoided with a business technology monitoring strategy that meets the requirements of the digital economy. Unfortunately, for the millions that we have spent on monitoring solutions, we are no closer to the promise of ‘proactive’ monitoring. Having just finished the research for Forrester’s 5-part TechRadar series on Business Technology Monitoring in which I interviewed over 20 experts, customers and vendors in regards to 18 monitoring technologies, I can say that the blame for failure of our monitoring strategies has to be shouldered by both I&O and the vendors of monitoring solutions. The good news is that new monitoring solution approaches (I will cover these during another blog post in October) mean that it’s now possible to avoid further computer glitches so long as we elevate the importance of technology monitoring in our businesses.              

So how can you avoid your business being the next ‘computer glitch’ headline? 

My advice would be to focus on the essential elements of IT service assurance which from my point of view starts with your business technology monitoring strategy. The right approach here will help to improve the quality of your ITSM processes. As always, though, I would be happy to hear your thoughts here.