Who’s Your Backup?

A recent profile in The New Yorker on the president of the New York City Transit Authority highlighted an all-too-common anecdote; that apparently, there exists one employee who has the ability to fix MetroCard Vending Machines when they break.

At first blush, this doesn’t sound like too much of an issue. That is until you realize these vending machines are the main revenue generator for the NYC subway system, and when restoring their functionality rests on the shoulders of one IT employee, it not only creates a loss of revenue for that time period but it places the MTA into public relations crisis mode – an all-too-familiar mode for an agency whose initials many comically refer to as standing for “More Trouble Ahead.” (Said lone employee – “Miguel” – was eventually found, systems were restored, and choruses of relief rang through NYC subway stations)

This is a common refrain heard at so many organizations around the globe. Technology is something we all need, we all use, but so few companies want to spend money maintaining, operating, or protecting.

Lesson to be learned? Don’t ever find yourself with only one Miguel.

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