Technical Risk
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Technical Risk

The student had problems with his computer, and while having it repaired, he started thinking about what actually happens in larger organisations when there are technical IT problems. This got him thinking about technical risk. He decided that he would ask his professor about these risks when they next met.


Involvement in Technology Disasters

When the professor heard that the student was interested in talking about technology risk, he was very pleased to discuss this high-risk area as over the years he had been directly and indirectly involved in a number of technology disasters. He said that he would provide examples of technical risks.


Total IT Failure

The professor had many examples from a number of organisations of technical risks, and started off with the failure or data corruption (or both) of one or more of the organisation’s servers, causing staff and students to be unable to access any IT resources. He said this case was a comedy of errors as when it occurred the IT manager had just left on holiday to South America for a fortnight and was uncontactable. However, what was even worse was that his deputy was new to the job and did not know that much about the more complicated aspects of the organisation’s IT. After the huge disruption, an IT consultancy was engaged to assist which was extremely costly in terms of money, reputation and relationships.


Non-Functioning Class Workstations

The professor said that an associated issue at another organisation was the classroom IT, including class workstations were unable to be used, and as can be expected this was terribly inconvenient for the students and the teacher. Many face-to-face and online classes had to be cancelled.


Loss of Databases

The professor continued, stating that another disastrous situation he was aware of was the temporary loss of databases. Databases are of critical importance in relation to student and organisation management, and financial management (including the payment of wages, budgets, taxation affairs etc). He said that management was very relieved that it was only a temporary loss.


Other Technical Risks

Other risks are physical damage to IT infrastructure, theft of IT-related equipment and the inability of staff and students to access affected resources. Other problem areas are attacks launched against servers, which affect not only face-to-face but also online tuition.


The Need for Competent Staff That Can Be Accessed at Short Notice

The professor advised that not only do we need to look at the above type of problems, but we need to ensure that there is always well-qualified staff who can attend to the above problems at short notice. In the above example, we saw the IT manager was uncontactable. It is important that there is always at least one capable backup who can be mobilised at short notice. Other issues that need to be considered include reputation with the students, agents and the community.


Technology Is a Major Risk Area

The student now has a number of risk sessions with the professor and is now beginning to see the importance of risk management, and felt that the professor was not wrong when he said that technology is a high-risk area needing careful treatment to mitigate the risks.


Other Articles Worth Reading -

Finance and Sustainability Risk -

Human Resources Risk (Staffing and WHS) -

Academic and Student Matters Risk -

External Markets and Associate Risks -

Regulatory Compliance -

Risk in Education and Training – A Starting Point -


Associate Professor Cyril Jankoff is the Associate Dean of scholarship at UBSS and a member of the Compliance Directorate at GCA.