Disaster? What Disaster?

Neil McAllister seems to think we’re on the brink of an abyss. Digital Armageddon is just around the corner, because business’ increasing reliance on pure information makes them liable to meltdown should they sufficiently mismanage it.

But what I’d like to know -and what McAllister conveniently forgets to mention- is: What, exactly, constitutes a ‘True Data Disaster?’

Are we talking about a leak that effectively kills a company’s credibility dead? I don’t think so, because if incompetence or data mismanagement had any kind of real-world relationship with a company’s success, Yahoo!, Amazon, TJX and Heartland Payment Systems and dozens of others would at very least have suffered losses in stock value following their colossally poor management practices.

Are we talking criminal abuse of private information? If that were the case, then Microsoft, Yahoo! and all the nation’s telcos (save Qwest) should be facing imminent demise because of their complicity in the unconstitutional breach of their customers’ privacy in the US Government’s domestic spying programme.

Are we talking straight-up data loss? If so, then Microsoft (hmm, that name keeps coming up) should have taken a dive when they managed quite literally to lose all of Danger Networks’ data.

Or are we talking non-performance and generalised uselessness on a scale that beggars comprehension? If that were the case, then why do large consultancies still manage to win multi-million dollar contracts that suck up centuries of developer time and never actually deliver a thing? Think of the FBI’s famous foray into modernisation, the now-legendary death of the UK’s online medical database and any of a hundred other projects that ended up entirely written off (to the tune of 100s of millions each) without so much as a downward tick in the value of the contracting companies involved.

It seems that in the esoteric world of noughts and ones, belief matters far more than empirical truth, making a true Data Disaster literally inconceivable.

There can’t be a Data Disaster today, because we can’t imagine what one would look like. Likewise, there won’t be a Data Disaster until we become capable of realising that they’re all around us, happening every day.