The chronic susceptibility of businesses to IT solutions that overpromise and underdeliver was illustrated by Qantas today, when the Amadeus system that it was using to check in passengers wrecked its schedules for more than 12 hours.

The Amadeus suite of airline, travel agent and individual on-line booking applications are in fact widely regarded as world leading. But when they fail all hell breaks loose, and such failures have paralysed operations in recent times abroad as well as in Australia.

The flight delays will cost Qantas dearly, but is this part self-inflicted damage, reflecting the willingness of businesses in general to submerge common sense evaluation of the claims of IT providers to the mentality of uncritical acceptance of overambitious claims and the lowest-priced deal that can be taken to a board for approval?

And do airlines in general try to do things with their IT solutions that push the limits of practicality. Or, put more bluntly, do they suffer geeks gladly, and pay for it later.

Past bad experiences with airline booking sites near and far has encouraged this traveller to record, in graphic file format all airline bookings using a screen-grabber. It takes a few seconds to make one and drop it into a folder-or at the least, just send the booking code (a short set of upper-case letters and numbers) to your smart phone so you can put it in front of any check-in person who claims that you or it don’t exist.

In an unrelated IT failure over the holiday weekend thousands of retailers using Bank of Queensland EFTPOS terminals lost serious bucks when the system insisted it was January 2016, thus rejecting as invalid almost every credit or debit card presented because they were only valid up to expiry dates no later than 2011.

Maybe these events point to a need for companies to select IT services on the basis of how little they promise rather than how much. They could come out well ahead.

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