Buffering: 8 ways IT can go horribly wrong

Safety and insurance

23 December 2015

Thousands of IT consultants are employed by businesses and organisations every year, with responsibility for massive amounts of data, infrastructure and software.

With technology playing such a vital role in the day-to-day running of businesses, even a small glitch can result in lost revenue – which is why it's so important for IT professionals to shield themselves from liability if anything goes wrong. Here's a brief look at eight common IT crises. 

1. Software bugs

According to KPMG, just over half of IT problems at UK businesses are caused by coding errors and failed IT changes. Whether it’s a case of glitchy code, inadequate testing or simple human error, these mistakes can be costly – as Amazon found out in 2014 when an hour-long software glitch reduced prices from some of its third-party retailers to just 1p, two weeks before Christmas.

2. Scope creep

A common headache for IT consultants, scope creep refers to 'uncontrolled changes or continuous growth' in a project's remit. If the exact scope of responsibilities isn’t clearly outlined (and agreed upon) from day one, this can often lead to conflicts with dissatisfied clients – so it's crucial to ensure there's a contract in place that states exactly what you're expected to deliver.

3. Lack of scalability

In the era of big data, every online business wants to collect, organise and monetise as much information as possible. However, as businesses grow, it’s vital that their infrastructure is able to support the rate of growth.

If, for example, an online retailer sees a spike in traffic to its site in a sale period, it needs the ability to scale its bandwidth to cope with demand. With 30% of mobile users only willing to wait 6-10 seconds for a page to load, shoppers bouncing off due to slow loading speeds could mean a serious revenue dip. 

4. Regulation, regulation, regulation

The World Wide Web is now 26. Despite its youth, 40% of the global population currently has internet access – that's nearly 3 billion people.

As the internet continues to expand at breakneck speed, so too does regulation, with data protection and intellectual property rules constantly evolving. Reading the rulebook is a given, but keeping up with its additions is vital for businesses (and consultants) to ensure they don't fall foul of the law.

Confessions of an IT consultant…

Sometimes, things can go horribly wrong. That’s why we asked IT consultants across the UK to confess to mistakes they’ve made at work. Because sometimes, even the smallest mistakes have big consequences.

5. Communication failure

In a report commissioned by Fujitsu, 50% of UK workers said a lack of training is the real reason they can’t make use of the latest technology.

For consultants, the challenge lies in ensuring that if they implement a new system, their hard work is cemented by a thorough handover once the contract is up, and reinforced by adequate training for relevant staff. After all, a shiny new system is only helpful if everyone knows how to use it.

6. Data loss

According to the EMC Global Data Index, the UK lost £10.5 billion to data loss and downtime in 2014, while data loss has increased by a whopping 400% between 2012 and 2014. With such hefty figures involved, having adequate recovery and back-up systems in place is a major concern for businesses of all sizes.

7. Data theft

In 2014, one of the biggest cases of data theft in recent history took place at Sony, when emails between employees, salary details and copies of unreleased films were put into the public sphere.

This case proves that even the world's most formidable firms can fall prey to hackers – and the threat is also considerable for SMEs. A recent government survey found that a third of UK SMEs suffered an external cyber-attack last year, with a major security breach costing companies between £65,000 and £115,000.

8. Failure to future-proof

Predicting the future is impossible, but for IT consultants and businesses, it's important to keep one eye on potential future trends. Putting in place a system or software that's likely to be obsolete in a year or two evidently doesn't make good business sense, so solutions provided by consultants need to be considered with longevity in mind.

Professional indemnity insurance – a small price to pay

While the above examples are all 'worst case scenarios', it's important to be protected if one of your clients experiences a tech failure after using your services or following advice you've provided.

With professional indemnity insurance from AXA, you have the peace of mind that your business is shielded from risks like compensation payments or legal costs. Just think of it as your own personal firewall.