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When Computers Go Down, It’s Probably Not Hackers

More likely, it’s a software glitch that nobody caught

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If you’ve seen the news this week, you’ve likely heard the stories about technology failures experienced by United Airlines and the New York Stock Exchange. In the case of the NYSE, it was a software upgrade gone wrong that suspended trading for nearly 4 hours. For United, a mandatory delay for its planes delayed about 4,900 flights worldwide for nearly 2 hours. In a New York Times blog, Vikas Bajaj points out some interesting trends related to these technology issues.

“If an important computer system goes down somewhere, many people suspect that it was the result of a hacking attack that originated in China, Russia or North Korea. In reality, both the NYSE and United technology failures showed no evidence related to any form of attacks. These systems failed due to technology issues.”

“In the digital world, hacking certainly is a big problem. But large computer systems used by businesses, governments, universities and other organizations fail all the time because of programming errors and other technical problems.”

So how can organizations prevent these major failures? The answer is simple. Large enterprises need to test everything, every day. Especially before new software or updates go live. That means every business process, every enterprise application, and every interface. How can you possibly do that? Can it even be done? Yes, with automation.

Test everything. Companies are doing it today. For example, there’s Dow Chemical, with 6,000 products manufactured at 200+ locations in 36 countries, delivering a broad range of manufactured products in chemicals, electronics, water, coatings, packaging, agriculture, and more. For them, quality really matters. The company continuously tests more than 600 business process scenarios, and today 80% of of their regression testing is executed with automation. The point is, high velocity, industrial scale testing can be done. It’s here today and the risk of a glitch in business systems can be driven toward zero. That’s important when your goal is flawless business execution.

Eliminate the software glitch with automation. Automation is changing the way many Global 5000 companies think about quality and the QA function. With the modern pace of business and technology, it’s impossible for manual testing to keep up with business needs. Automated solutions like Worksoft Certify not only accelerate testing, but allow you to cover more and validate every core process with high frequency. Plus, automation software helps your overall QA process by liberating your staff from the tedium of keystrokes and allowing more resources to be utilized in higher value, big brain areas.

Ensuring your systems are free of errors can also lead to increased security. As Bajaj points out, “Hackers often get access to computer networks through such vulnerabilities. If anything, recent technical failures are an important reminder that we are increasingly reliant on systems that can be quite unstable and insecure.”

Automation is just one piece of the puzzle in helping ensure your organization runs flawlessly. To ensure your systems are running and secure, you will need to use modern QA strategies like an Advanced Quality Maturity Model and consider forming a Test Center of Excellence to oversee software quality assurance. Terrorist attacks may not be a threat for every organization, but as Bajaj points out, the threat of technology failures will continue to grow as businesses increase their reliance on technology.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me to learn more about automation for business process quality.

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