Business + IT Insights

Real-Life IT Horror Stories That Make For Invaluable Technology Education

Posted by Dave Lazor on Tue, Jan 08, 2019


477483227Throughout history, there have been defining moments of technological evolution when humanity was forever changed. By and large, innovative technology has succeeded in advancing society. But some advancements have been met with fear. One of the greatest speculations of technological crisis dawned not too long ago: Y2K. People all over the world braced for a technology-fueled apocalypse – one that never actually came. Without technology education and knowledge, the unknown is daunting.

When it comes to technology and your business, there’s bound to be some fear associated with facing your own IT systems. Fears like these often stem from IT “horror stories” you’ve heard throughout the years. Drawing from our own experiences in the IT world, we have collected the three most common horror stories. These examples are aimed at providing you with valuable technology education. Rather than scare you, they should serve as a learning experience to help shape your IT strategy.

Horror Story #1 – Security And Confidentiality
Security is, perhaps, the greatest concern to most business leaders – and for good reason. One of the most renowned security horror stories occurred at Target just a few years back. The Washington Post reported

“Thieves who stole massive amounts of credit and debit card information during the holiday season also swept up names, addresses and phone numbers of 70 million customers, information that could put victims at greater risk for identity theft.”

The horror of this story wasn’t exclusive to Target: It was also an extremely grave situation for the company’s customers. Since the data security breach, Target has admitted that it missed warning signs and has taken steps to prevent and combat such a failure in the future. The lessons learned from this example aren’t valuable to Target alone – they are relevant to businesses across the globe.

Companies also face security and confidentiality issues when members of an IT support team retire or leave for another company. Under these circumstances, some firms have discovered that the security of their systems is under-supported or compromised. Many employees have full access to IT systems, databases and other company information, so when someone with full access leaves your team, you must protect your vital information.

Horror Story #2 – Hostage Of Technology
Any time a single person or small group is fully responsible for your IT operations, you run the risk of being “held hostage” by your technology. Such dependence leaves room for work stoppage due to employee absence – whether from a temporary illness or a permanent leave. If no one is able to solve your IT problems, you’re efficiency comes to a screeching halt.

Here are two examples of this type of risk becoming reality:

  1. Company A decided to let go of a key member of its IT team. The support staff decided to follow this person to his new firm, which unexpectedly left Company A without any support for the technology environment it relied on every day. Without that tech support or knowledge, the company was forced to halt work. With lost productivity, it also lost money.
     
  2. In this general example of Key Man Syndrome, a key IT team member leaves the company on good terms, but the remaining support staff lacks the experience needed to suitably replace that one person’s capabilities. This similar “hostage” situation leaves your company in a costly position.

To protect yourself from potential risk, it’s important to have backup plans in place to swiftly address situations like these. Know how you’re going to leverage a particular team or consultant who is equipped to perform these functions even when key people are absent.

Horror Story #3 – Ownership Of Technology
In some cases, aspects of information technology are proprietary to the provider. If you change IT consultants, be aware that aspects of “your” technology belong to that IT company, and you may be forced to pay a substantial fee to keep them.

Think about it this way: What if you wanted to change mechanics, and your current technician told you that he owned the car because the work he did on it still belongs to him? It may sound absurd, but this is the kind of issue you have to be aware of when it comes to protecting your IT systems.

Changing your IT consultant may incur either an unexpected cost or a freeze in your IT operations. Either way, your technology budget is undoubtedly at risk. It’s crucial that you understand the nature of your partnership agreement and safeguard against situations like this one.

Take note of these unfortunate horror stories and let them be a lesson in technology education. Empower yourself with this knowledge to strengthen your own IT strategies and protect your business from costly scenarios.

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Tags: it consulting, IT strategy, IT Security

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