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The hidden danger of efficiency

This week's computer problems at Delta Airlines caused significant delays and massive headaches for many of its customers schedule to travel on Monday. With an airline and scheduled flights, and disruption can bring a cascading series of exponential disruptions. A line of severe thunderstorms striking a major hub like Chicago or Atlanta can ripple through the system for hours, as planes fail to depart or arrive, and passengers cannot make connections.

When the problems are within a single company, they can be very damaging and expensive to ameliorate. Their network computer failures will likely cost the company millions in direct costs in the form of vouchers to customers, planes and crews sitting idle for hours and the expense of moving some of those aircraft and crews to new locations to clean up the disruption.

The teaching lesson to any business is that while efficiency and transparency of your systems are important to your customers, the robustness of those systems may be even more important. Your customers do not care how your internal systems work, but they care deeply that they do work and they work reliably.

Your business may not be as high profile as a major airline, but you likely have some customers who may place just as high a degree of reliance on your ability to perform. As part of your fundamental business organization, you need to have redundant systems in place that can protect your customers and the viability of your business to operate from a wide variety of potential problems.

From cyber hacking and ransomware to fires, floods, blizzards and tornados, you should evaluate the survivability of your internal systems. While insurance may help replace damaged equipment, that could take days or weeks to occur.

Can you continue to service and provide for your existing customers while that happens? Do you and your management have the authority to fix things "on the fly" while your business is repaired or rebuilt? And do you have remote systems that could take over should your primary systems be damaged?

This can be complex, but can help prevent litigation and other costs associated with major systems failures like that experienced by Delta.

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