IT solves problems or changes the nature?

It was many years back when I was working as a volunteer on a quick registration / check in kiosk for a conference where bar code based cards were introduced for the first time. For one of the participants, the bar code reader was refusing to read the data, though I could know that the card and the person are genuine. While I was trying to fix the problem, I lightened the situation by joking with the suffering participant saying “You know as IT professionals, we don’t solve your problems, we just change the nature (of problems).

And this is still true, isn’t it? Let’s take a look at few recent examples:

  • Netflix outage on Christmas eve:

The old situation: You have invited friends at your home and you borrowed the latest movie from the near by movie rental store. All of you are set to enjoy your evening only to learn that your video is not liked by your Video Player.

The IT situation: You have planned a family time at home and you login to watch the latest movie with your Netflix account. All of you are set to enjoy your evening only to learn that some … named cloud server of Amazon is down that sinks the Netflix and ruins your plans.

Netflix

(Original photo and more details here: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2012/12/great-netflix-christmas-outage-thankfully-over/60303/ )

  • Some of the Twitter accounts hacked:

The old situation: This is not as old, but making the excuse that social media is the new email, we can call it old. Your email account is hacked by some unknown culprit living some where in the world, and your friends and companions start getting messages from you which are not from you. All of your network is thinking what happened to you only to learn that your email account was hacked.

The IT situation: The same unknown culprit hacks into Twitter’s security system (possibly through the same flaw that was in the email system ), and start tweeting on your behalf which are not from you. All of your network has started thinking to “un-follow” you only to learn that it wasn’t you.

(More details here: http://allthingsd.com/20121108/dont-panic-twitter-accidentally-reset-too-many-passwords/ )

  • An incorrect map lands you at wrong place:

The old situation: You are visiting a town of your relatives (most probably your in-laws) and you are visiting that town for the first time. You ask some old folks who from their look seem quite serious fellows who must be knowing the entire town only to learn later that they sent you in the wrong direction. Your spouse (as always) still blames you and not those bad guys 🙂

The IT situation: You are visiting a town of your relatives (doesn’t matter who they are, your spouse wants to meet them) and you are visiting that town for the first time. You ask your latest iPhone with a new map App from Apple who are genius at work and know how to solve every problem only to learn later that you reached at a wrong place. I mention not what your spouse says this time…. ouch.

(I covered this in detail in one of my previous posts here: Lessons from Apple’s Map App story)

 You can image more entries than this

Well, as a die hard tester I love talking about problems and shy away from solutions, so let me explain the problem a bit more. By the way this is not an easy problem to solve. Say in the example of Netflix, in earlier time you had to invest in the quality of the raw video cassettes that you buy and then make sure you have state of the art recording system and that was it. Now you are in need of big data centers who can reliably stream videos to every corner of your user world without any delays. This calls for a 24×7 service compared to one time quality controlled activity. Similarly, managing Twitter accounts is a complex topic because Twitter has over 500 million accounts. And well, developing an app that works for every city in the world is not an easy problem to solve either.

So “how do we tackle this complex real world problem?” is the question for us as Testers, Programmers, Architects and Business Analysts. The world does not just need a solution, it needs a solution that is less problematic than their current times. I mentioned some areas to focus in Why we love some software more?

Do you have similar stories? And by any chance do you have suggestions to actually solve the problem?

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  1. Tech totay | Knowledge Tester - August 6, 2014

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