Elephant in the Room

The National Preparedness Commission and the BCS IT Leaders Forum, a Specialist Group from BCS (The Chartered Institute for IT) held a Roundtable chaired by NPC Chair, Lord Toby Harris, to discuss what could be done to reduce the impact of software failures on the UK’s economy and society. This report “Elephant in the Room” by Gill Ringland former CEO of SAMI and Professor Ed Steinmueller, Professorial Fellow at SPRU, provides an overview of the key points, recommendations, and conclusions from the discussion.

“In addition to the authors of this report, the roundtable also included Katie Barnes, Executive Director, NPC, David Miller, Chair of the BCS IT Leaders Forum, Professor Jon Hall of the Open University, and Patricia Lustig, Board Member, Association of Professional Futurists, to facilitate the discussion.”

The main conclusions of the discussion were that:

  • More people and organisations need to be aware of the actual and potential impact of software failures.
  • Software is different. It is intangible and obeys different rules from physical systems, creating problems in for example quality control and regulation.
  • The software element of digital systems failure is a cost to economy and society which will only increase as software has become a utility, is in wider usage, and more vulnerable to failure.