Quoting Olympic officials, Roger Blitz, Leisure Industries Correspondent for the Financial Times, wrote ‘Widespread use of Twitter and other forms of social media by thousands of spectators lining the men’s cycling road race was to blame for poor transmission of race data. ‘Blitz goes on to say ‘Billed as the first social media Olympics, London 2012 has already shown up the significance of mass instant communication at big events such as the opening ceremony, which caused Twitter to break down’.
Twitter said the ‘break down’ was caused by the coincidental failure of its main data centre and its back-up systems at the same time. Twitter engineering vice-president Mazen Rawashdeh said in an official company blog ‘I wish I could say that today’s outage could be explained by the Olympics or even a cascading bug. Instead, it was due to this infrastructural double-whammy,’ and he promised to invest aggressively in their systems in the future to avoid this type of situation in the future.
All too often it takes such a double-whammy to point out to us where we have failed to anticipate. What is so strange is that with the help of technology organisations continue to push the boundaries of ‘what is possible’, yet when it comes to matching those strides with ensuring their systems are resilient they slow down. Here at Total Systems we have always believed in keeping a balance, the importance of R&D matched with inbuilt resilience. We were the first company to develop multi-car insurance, amongst the trail blazers for telematics integration and continue to lead the way into new ideas. Over the past couple of years we have invested heavily in R&D as part of our commitment to continual improvement.
What happened to Twitter and the fact that social media activity interfered with the transmission of data are both examples of events that could have been anticipated. So why does it take a mass failure to make an organisation wake up to the need to continually modernise and invest?
A recent report from investment and research body Nesta found investment in innovation by British businesses had plummeted £24bn since the start of the recession. These worrying statistics were re-enforced by IT finance provider Syscap who analysed figures from the Office for National Statistics and reported IT investment fell by 10% in the first quarter of 2012.
We could not agree more with the sentiments of Philip White, the CEO of Syscap, when he said that maintaining a modern IT infrastructure is a vital factor in national productivity. We accept that no system is perfect but its resilience must match its importance; this is the baseline by which we continue to work with our clients to make sure they do not get caught out.