Apr 12 2008

Poor Systems Integration Just Makes It Worse

Poor Systems Integration Just Makes It Worse

I attended  a day of classes at Harvard Business School in 1992 as a college senior.  I distinctly remember a case study on how poor systems integration was impacting companies’ ability to get a whole view of their customers and thus provide high service levels.  In fact, the case study I remember was about American Airlines and how one system showed that a customer’s flights had been delayed or canceled, while another system showed a customer’s travel patterns and was able to tell when the customer had defected to another airline, and a third system sent out rewards and notices to customers.

That was 16 years ago.

I received an email from American Airlines today about this past week’s service debacles around additional airplane inspections.  It was a good email, until I read this line:

If in your travels you were among the many who have been personally affected, I sincerely regret the inconvenience you have experienced.

Um, hello?  McFly?  Shouldn’t you know whether or not I was “personally affected” by your cancellations?  You haven’t figured out how to tie those disparate systems together in the last 16 years?

American’s not alone, by any stretch of the imagination.  I see the same problem all over the place — banks, telco, retail.  I just find it amazing that large companies with huge IT budgets and decades to work with can’t figure out how to tie systems together to understand what’s going on with their customers.  Still.