It’s been a dark year for U.S. airline travelers, with Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and United Continental all experiencing significant business disruptions due to computer system failures.
In each case, a technology failure led to thousands of flight delays and trip cancellations, costing these companies millions in extra costs, drops in share prices and brand damage.
Could your business be poised for a similar disaster?
Last summer United Airlines problems were caused by a single network router. An estimated 4,900 flights were affected worldwide.
American Airlines has remained cagey about the exact cause of what were widely described as ‘network connectivity’ issues last fall. But, in addition to grounded flights, customers had trouble accessing frequent flyer accounts and checking in at airport kiosks.
It’s thought that Delta’s woes were caused when the airline’s switch gear, a device that distributes energy throughout a building, failed in the middle of the night and computer operations shut down. All business computer systems and electric power should have failsafe backups, agree experts.
As Bob Mann, president of aviation consultant R.W. Mann & Co. and a former airline executive, told Bloomberg:
“Any high-level central site ought to have not only a fail-over power system, but they ought to be testing it regularly to make sure it actually works as designed and anticipated.”
Let the airline industry’s recent experience be a lesson for your company. Make sure your IT team tests your back-up systems regularly. Invest continually in IT infrastructure rather than relying on patchwork systems. Business investors are examining IT and cyber security when they perform due diligence, because they know the company they’re backing is only as strong as the weakest link. If you merge your business with another, remain vigilant in resolving mismatched computer networks and databases.
Otherwise, your business could face epic failures similar to the ones plaguing the U.S. airline industry.
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