So now that we have looked at the different causes of failure and why some Information Systems fail when others don’t; it’s important to look more in-depth into some of the major national and international system failures that have occurred.
Ulster Bank has been at the heart of the Irish banking industry since 1836, spreading from humble beginnings in Belfast throughout the Irish high street. However, in June 2012 a major system crash happened that affected millions of bank members and cost the bank millions as well as their 176 year old reputation.
A system glitch delayed automatic social welfare payments and salaries from going into customer accounts. This was blamed on a “batch processing” error. Originally it was thought to be fixed within 24 hours but instead it took the bank nearly 5 weeks to return all affected bank accounts to normal. What started as a minor inconvenience spiralled out of the banks control when customers were unable to meet payment deadlines or even simply check their account balance. This failure even caused disruption for many customers outside of Ulster Bank that were awaiting salary and other payments themselves from Ulster Bank users.
Ulster Banks sister companies, NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland, also lost control of their electronic payment systems for a few days. This impacted upon an estimated 17 million customers. This has started an independent inspection into what exactly happened and why. Never before has a glitch of this magnitude occurred.
In order to appraise this major error, Ulster Bank is paying out €25 to each affected customer who could not use their electronic service as well as waiving fees, surcharges and surcharge interest for three months. The company hopes that this will help it regain some of its lost reputation.
This example of IS failure highlights exactly how important systems are to our daily lives but shows that even the most complex systems are prone to human error. Yet some can argue that this a small price to pay for the ease of technology.