You’ve all heard of working days but the big question is, who has heard of data days? I hadn’t and I work in IT. The individual who first mentioned to me about data days was a business banking customer services employee.
It seems that, despite updating millions of financial records every second, any change of customer details is only committed to the central database once a day. This means that if you provided data to a customer services employee at your bank and they add it to their machine, it will not go live until up to a day later. I guess you could argue that this makes sense because expensive (both financially and computationally) integrity checks don’t have to be carried out that often but in the grand scheme of things, I don’t agree.
The first issue is quite obvious and that is the potential for data loss. Luckily I’m a business customer so I can get through on the phones quickly and get something sorted. If they lost data I’d given them before the central databases were updated then its no biggie, but for those who had waited 30 minutes to speak to someone it would be a right pain. I’m not saying they lose any data, but it *could*, theoretically at least, happen.
The second and more subtle issue is that these updates happen at 5pm. This means that despite the phones being open till 8pm on some nights, any updates that occur as a result of phone conversations after 5pm will not be seen to be updated until after 5pm the following day. Even if this data day practice has to happen, can’t it happen at 3am so that at least that days updates will be live the day after?
I just find this shocking. The technology exists to do things in real time. We use it everyday. What would happen to the popularity of facebook if it took someone 24 hours before they could read a post on your wall? We don’t put up with it there so why should we put up with it from our banks? Annoyingly the banks are willing to invest in the technology to fix the issue where it involves money (try taking money from a cash machine and then checking your balance on another – you can be sure you don’t have to wait 24 hours to see the change).
IT these days is very powerful but when used poorly like this it gets a bad name. I’m proud to work in IT but when I see IT being used as an excuse for this kind of poor practice I’m simply ashamed.