This blog has been sparked by a small information in the London’s Evening Standard newspaper – “London Bridge chaos continues with fare glitch”. For those who are distant from London, let me explain – one of the most busy and central train stations – London Bridge – has been moved under reconstruction a few weeks ago, which caused several major train lines to be re-routed and re-scheduled, which is not a simple task itself. If I add that London Bridge is the station that brings significant part of workers into London’s City, the scale of the issue might be clearer – it is humongous. Below, I have put a few quotes from that article because I do not believe them.
“Rail bosses today admitted passengers could be overcharged because of a computer glitch with the new timetables introduced while London Bridge station is being rebuilt”. Well, this message carries nothing special. Let’s read further.
“Travellers using official rail firm’s websites and smartphone apps have been asked to pay higher than the fare available at booking offices. ” This is an interesting discrimination already. This problem appeared on 3 websites that, probably, share the same source for the information provided by the Transport for London (TfL) organisation.
“Although the websites have been programmed with re-routings while the station is rebuilt over the next three years, they have failed to update the revised fares due to computer glitch”. Every person who worked in IT of any company for about 5 years easily reads in this information that the glitch was not in the computer, but in the brains of IT managers and operational personnel. I also think that this relates to the business stakeholders who signed-off the incomplete testing and unverified deployment of re-programmed systems. I think that TfL has a system for routing/re-routing and a separate system for booking offices historically linked together. Also, I think, there is a new system for mobile apps, which has serious problems in integration with first two. I am almost sure (please, correct me if I am wrong) that the latter system is built because of mobile applications and this design was proposed by IT. If this IT would have a clue about the business operational model of TfL, they would, probably, constructed a payment/fare system/function for the routing system regardless the fare charging channels. Actually, this ‘fare’ thing is nothing else than a regular multi-channel retail solution where mobile apps or mail letters are the same from the business perspectives. In this case, to my understanding, the trees of mobile apps have blocked the view of the forest of the ticket sale function.
It is not a surprise the consumer’s organisation has finally ‘connected the ends’ of this functional glitch, which should be found and fixed if, at least, proper testing of business operations were conducted before the release to production. It is not a surprise because TfL offers maximum £80K p/a to the Head of IT role responsible for the systems that manage transit of more than 6 million people a day. Any self-respecting technology architect requires higher remuneration; what ‘specialists’ work for TfL for such money?
About 50 years ago, IT was a supplement, a support unit and function. The world and economy have changed dramatically. However, it seems that TfL’ IT is still managed in the way they did it before mobile devices appeared. Will McInnes, the business transformation visionary and facilitator, said once, “Business as usual is utterly screwed. It values the wrong things, rewards the wrong people and behaves in the wrong ways… look out the window – that world you peer down on is very different from the post-war 50s, when the high principles of ‘modern’ business practice emerged”.
The real modern business practice requires a new dynamic business architecture with new dynamic capabilities realised via new dynamic technologies supporting flexible and integral business services instead of a conceptually outdated system. I have mentioned services because Natural Business Architecture (in contrast with traditional business or IT architecture) cannot make mistakes such as described in the newspaper – routing is a service, selling tickets is a service. If a service provider cannot deliver to the SAL, it should become bankrupt or, simply, fired. This is the logic of the market. If TfL wants to alter simple market rules and hide behind computers, I can say them that modern computers become so small and thin that it is not easy to use them as shields.