Too Much Technology?

What happens when company computers fail? 16.5 million Chase Bank customers were affected when they were unable access the company’s online banking system for three days last week. Bill Stamps looks into our dependence on technology and how it can affect us when things go wrong.


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In this day and age of cell phones, computer and other electronic gadgets many Americans have become addicted to electronic banking. Instead of pulling out their checkbook to find out their balance, they pull out the keyboard or phone. Just a couple clicks of the mouse, or couple of buttons on the phone, and this is what you get.

(computer voice on the phone).

For those of you who rely on online banking, imagine how many customers of Chase Bank felt last week when the online banking system was down for three days. Customers had just two choices. They could go to an ATM or the bank itself. Chase says it was a software problem that caused the outage. But many are now asking how this can to such a big and powerful company. UH business professor Latha Ramchanda says it’s the nature of technology.

“With technology, just like any other item of technology, you have to think about it as a double-edged sword. It has huge benefits, I mean we rely so much on these technological devices, but like anything else it can be misused.”

Franklyn Knight is a Houston computer and software expert. He and others say the company should have had a roll back option, similar to the restore points on home computers.

“On home computers, there’s a thing set up where you can restore to a previous point. And you know if you install a piece of software and it breaks your computer, you know you can restore back to yesterday when it did work. So there’s a previous working state of the computer.”
Another question some have asked is that if a system at such a large company can be down for three days, is it possible for a simultaneous catastrophic failure by multiple companies to shut down not only commerce, but life as we know it? Professor Ramchand doubt that could ever happen.

“Y2k. They all anticipated that and did a great job making sure there were no problems. It was almost like a non event. I was quite disappointed that nothing actually happened.”
Knight points to Hurricane Ike as proof our computer systems are reliable.
“The next day we had gas stations up and running that’s all because there’s so many different levels you can do with the computer. The computer running the gas station may not have even been in Texas, it might have been in somewhere else working over a satellite. So no, I think that with the computer technology, we have we’re more safeguarded for one, and if you have everything in place it would be hard to just fail.”

In fact experts say most of the problems are human error, not the fault of computers.

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