It's just a few years ago at the manufacturing company where this pilot fish works, and word comes down from the corporate IT communications department: Every plant needs to add a DSL connection to serve as a backup for its T1 or T3 line.
And so fish goes to work making that a reality at the plant where she works. "I arrange with our local telco and get this done -- a 10MB connection that we pay about $110 per month to maintain," says fish.
"A few years go by and we never have an extended period of downtime, so it's never used. I occasionally use some of this bandwidth to do large downloads of updates and transfers of prints for our engineers, but it goes unused the vast majority of the time."
Flash forward more than three years: A road crew cuts a fiber-optic cable, and all services are lost: not just the plant's networking, but also long distance and cell service.
Fortunately, there's the DSL backup -- right? Fish waits for the DSL line to bring the plant back on line. And waits. And waits. And the plant is offline the rest of the day.
And by the time corporate is back in the office the following day, the main network is back up, fish has plenty to do, and no one remembers to ask corporate IT about the DSL issue.
Several months later, in the wee hours one morning, an under-the-influence driver leaves the road and runs over the repaired-but-not-yet-reburied fiber cable. Everything goes down again. This time the cable is repaired only a few hours into the business day. But the DSL backup still doesn't work.
"When we have service again, I call corporate IT to find out why the DSL doesn't reconnect us when the lines go down," fish says. "The response I get is, 'Oh, we were never able to get that to work the way we thought it should. You can get the DSL turned off if you don't use it.'
"I hang up the phone and do the math: At least 50 plants at $110 or more per month times 3.5 years. That's $231,000 or more wasted. Wow!
"Would that be the cost of IT corporate communications -- or the cost of the lack of corporate IT communication?"
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