Financial internet-IT provides examples of both getting ahead of and falling behind cascading failures. The NYSE disruption in July of this year showed how fast and fresh works to limit losses. The Knight Capital collapse in August, 2012 shows what it means to be stale and slow.
It’s easy to get behind: struggling with diagnosis, searching for authority, and coping with consequences can overwhelm teams during a system runaway. It can be difficult to distinguish between technology-induced and market-induced runaways (is this Cyber Monday or something else?). The two are now so closely connected that they may no longer be separable.
The decision to halt trading on the part of the NYSE in July limited the cascade, allowed unwinding the results, and allowed the NYSE to escape serious injury — a stark contrast with the death of Knight Capital in 2012. As Web Ops transaction frequency and value increase, the experience in financial internet-IT becomes more valuable to the broader community. A critical lesson is the need to coordinate Web Ops with an organization’s leadership before and during cascading anomalies. The properties revealed in preparation for, and response to, outages in financial services are general properties essential to Web Ops everywhere.
David Woods is a professor at the Ohio State University, where he is the lead for the Initiative on Complexity in Natural, Social, and Engineered Systems and the codirector of Ohio State University’s Cognitive Systems Engineering Laboratory. David is a former president of both the Resilience Engineering Association and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
Richard Cook is a research scientist in the Department of Integrated Systems Engineering at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and emeritus professor of healthcare systems safety at Sweden’s KTH. A physician, researcher, and educator, Richard is an internationally recognized expert on safety, accidents, and human performance at the sharp end of complex, adaptive systems. His most often cited publication is “Going Solid: A Model of System Dynamics and Consequences for Patient Safety.”
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