Although sparking a rather comical look at digital disruption, the news this week of Gatwick Airport’s digital flight display systems going following an IT failure, and having to resort to the good old white board and marker, left more than just a smile on our faces.

In a world that is saturated with articles about digital disruption, digital change and digital readiness, sometimes things simply go wrong – as in the case with Gatwick Airport and their reliance on a service provider to deliver a critical part of their operational infrastructure. And when things go wrong, and digital goes down, that’s when the true calibre of operational infrastructure either stands tall, or crumbles.

But it’s not the white board and marker that we’re about to salute, but rather a business’ ability to operate, without much disruption, when things go wrong – and demonstrate their true tenacity and operational capability in the midst of unusual and unexpected chaos.

Your client will still expect the same service

Your customers, although sometimes sympathetic to system failure and internal rhetoric, actually don’t care if things go wrong inside your operational structure – as long as they still receive what they expect to receive. They may be forgiving, yes, but forgetful, hardly ever. Which is why when the time comes to approach any type of new change strategy, you need to be absolutely certain that should Plan A not deliver, you’re still able to offer exactly the same, but through Plan B. We don’t expect you to suddenly invest in a stationery cupboard full of white boards and markers, but we do expect you to think of the alternative, for rainy days.  Part of strategic planning, and digital transformation, heralds in the “What If” scenario. Make sure that if the What If really does happen, you have an actionable and understandable plan, not just a fancy flow-chart of drawings.

You may work slower, but you should never panic.

We are certain that when the systems went down at Gatwick this week, a mild panic ensued in some office, somewhere. Heart-rates increased and tempers flared. It’s natural – and is synonymous with any type of worse-case scenario. But the worst thing you can do is panic. No business is agnostic to crisis – whether planned, or unplanned. That’s why every business should not only have a strategy that is robust enough to support the rough times, but a team of people on hand who are able to help steer you through the pain. Whether this is someone who is at the end of a phone to instruct you in the middle of it all, or someone who is slightly further removed who is able to look at the crisis as a whole, and, when things are calmer, sit down and revisit where you could improve operationally, improve your risk management planning or simply give you advice on how to prevent this happening again.

Don’t let one crisis cause another

One of the big criticisms reported from one disgruntled traveller who missed her flight back to Newquay was the small issue of just where they placed the white boards. Many reported that because the Airport wanted to inform passengers as quickly as possible, they placed the notification white boards soon after travellers had passed through security – causing a backlog of travellers backing up, trying to find their way towards their relevant boarding gates. Such was the chaos that ensued, many missed their flights completely.  Managing a crisis doesn’t mean you’ll always get it right, but it’s important to adopt a mindset that solves a problem, and doesn’t create another. And whether this analogy can be drawn towards your own customer management process, or towards your marketing strategy, or whether operationally you’re trying to satisfy one key order while at the same time jeopardising the delivery of another, the anecdote rings true – take a wider look at the problem you are trying to solve and find the solution that caters to a specific issue – without disrupting your entire chain of operational events.


We live in a digital world. And if you aren’t already implementing your digital strategy, you’re quickly falling behind. Customers are looking for accessibility and speed, while also expecting quality and great service. But in the pursuit of fibre optic and cloud-based, there’s an underlying necessity for all business – regardless of size, industry or infrastructure – to fine-tune operational process that delivers – regardless of medium. If you are looking for help to fine-tune your operational infrastructure, and get your team ready for change, then we’d love to help. Get in touch with us today.