Opinion

Communications breakdowns could nix Cloud Computing if DHL's service is anything to go by

There's a weird looking man at our door.

My wife answers it. Then man mumbles something through his motorcycle visor

What?

"Free Monkeys!" he shouts. "Free monkeys!"

There's a man at the door shouting Free Monkeys at me, she reports. By this stage our mystery caller has gone.

It turns out he's the courier, sent by the PR agency (3 Monkeys) for Samsung, to pick up their Omnia 7 Windows phone, which will be reviewed here shortly.

The point is, for all the good technology does, most of the time the systems fail because people are so useless at communicating. 

Take DHL. They've got an online system that lets you track your packaging as it travels from Kingston to Thailand. At least it would, if they's explained how it works properly. On the web, there's a field to type in your number, so you can Track Your Shipment.

What (of the many sets of numbers on your documents) number should you enter? They don't say, so you naturally assume it's going to be the account number. You type that number in, the system pauses for a bit and then says 'There is no record of your package'.

It turns out the number you should have entered was the Waybill Number.

Of course, Waybill! That's the first time that comes to mind when you're searching for your personal ID.

What prat created this system and assumed everyone would guess that Waybill, in DHL language, means personal ID number?

Assumption is the mother of all cock ups. Assumption like this, made by nerds with no communications skills, were the root cause of so many outsourcing disasters. 

We'll see them all over again when Cloud Computing takes place. 

I'd put £100 on it at William Hill. But Graham Sharp, or whoever it is who calculates all the weird bets for the bookmaker, probably wouldn't have a clue what I was talking about.















This was first published in April 2011

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