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Top 10 enterprise IT disasters

Byron Connolly | April 9, 2014
Some notable tech disasters in recent times


Lack of governance, bad reporting, constantly changing specifications, and security breaches: Here are some of the most damaging enterprise IT disasters in recent years in Australia and overseas.

In 2012, only 39 per cent of all projects included in Standish Group’s 2012 Chaos report succeeded by being delivered on time and budget with the required features and functions. This is an increase from a year earlier but it still paints a pretty bleak picture of global IT project successes and failures across just under 50,000 global initiatives.

Sadly, 18 per cent of these projects failed because they were cancelled prior to completion and delivered or never used, according to the latest Chaos report.

Some of those failures were no doubt spectacular — though we doubt many of them are as spectacular as the list below of the top 10 enterprise IT disasters that have taken place in recent years in Australia and abroad.

10. BBC’s Digital Media Initiative

UK broadcaster, the BBC launched its Digital Media Initiative in 2008 in an attempt to build a digital production system to change the way workers created, used and shared audio and video content.

The project was halted in mid-2012 after the BBC Trust launched an internal review. It engaged PwC at a cost of £250,000 to review the management and reporting of the initiative.

It found that the BBC showed serious weakness in project management and reporting, and a crippling lack of focus on business change. Almost £100 million was spent on the project. In January this year, the broadcaster fired its CTO John Linwood over the debacle.

9. Distribute.IT hack

In June 2011, domain registrar Distribute.IT was hit with an attack on its servers, causing around 4800 websites and data relating to 4000 customers to be lost.

A truck driver from Cowra in NSW was charged for the alleged attack on Distribute.IT as well as other attacks on the University of Sydney and NBN Co retail customer, Platform Networks.

The attack was so damaging, it put Distribute.IT out of business. The company was subsequently acquired by Netregistry Group.

8. HealthSMART modernisation program

In mid-2008, the Victorian government unveiled its $360 million HealthSMART program to modernise and replace IT systems across the Victorian public health sector.

As of October last year, implementation costs for the HealthSMART clinical ICT system rollout had blown out to $145.3 million or 150 per cent more than the original budget of $58.3 million, according to an Auditor-General’s report.


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