The cost of human error

By Derek Sooman on October 6, 2004, 1:27 PM
In a world that is becoming more and more computer dependant, more thing is clear: one of the stupidest things about computers is the people who use them. Human beings are responsible for a great many of the really big cock ups - after all, computers only do what we tell them to. Would the modern, computerised organisation be better off without the human element?

Consider the following disasters:

-New software at Hewlett-Packard Co. was supposed to get orders in and out the door faster at the computer giant. Instead, a botched deployment cut into earnings in a big way in August and executives got fired.

-Last month, a system that controls communications between commercial jets and air traffic controllers in southern California shut off because some maintenance had not been performed.

-Computer code foul-ups also recently held Tacoma, Wash.ís budget hostage, delayed financial aid to university students in Indiana and caused retailer Ross Stores Inc.ís profits to plummet 40 percent after a merchandise-tracking system failed.

What do all of these things have in common? What is the common root cause? Bad software? Sloppy programming? Oh, no. The common cause is human error.

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