In his 1999 article entitled, “Connectivity, Creativity, and Chaos,” Rouse describes the growth of networking as, “linking people and systems globally, providing previously unimaginable access to information resources.” (Rouse, 1999) Indeed, imagining modern business and communications without networks has become difficult. As the dependence on networking has increased, the risks associated with a loss of services grow, too. Parent and Reich discuss the importance of managing information technology risks. (Parent & Reich, 2009) Parent and Reich conduct a study of six IT firms that suffered stock market losses as a result of mismanaging IT risks. (Parent & Reich, 2009) At Raytheon Company, e-mail is a crucial communications technology for the conduct of daily business. Telephone, face-to-face, instant messaging, and other technologies are available; however, none of these are as widely utilized and integrated with company processes as e-mail. The company dependence upon a single network dependent communications technology means that Raytheon must carefully manage risks associated with network and e-mail outages.
The e-mail system is no longer simply another medium for communication. Business processes and business process automation have been tightly integrated with the e-mail system. For example, managers may be notified of time cards requiring approval via e-mail. Some businesses incorporate e-mail into approval systems. For instance, a purchase request approvals are processed by sending, receiving, and parsing e-mail messages. If there were a network outage that disrupted e-mail services, key business processes, like purchasing and receiving, would fail. According to Parent and Reich, the key to managing the business risks posed by reliance on the e-mail system is good governance. (Parent & Reich, 2009)
Raytheon Company employs several processes and technologies to ensure that risks associated with a network failure are mitigated and minimized. From a business standpoint, the company requires configuration and maintenance on the network to utilize a change management process to ensure that all work that may impact the network is thoroughly reviewed and includes processes, procedures, and rules for making and reversing changes, including contingency plans in case of adverse results. Technologically, the network connecting Raytheon Company’s e-mail servers is fully redundant. By designing a fully redundant network and investing in the required equipment, Raytheon ensures that no single hardware or devices failure will result in an outage to the e-mail system. However, there are cost constraints associated with the management of risk by redundant systems. The redundancy protects the network and the e-mail systems, but does not protect individual employee computers. The value of a single person’s access to e-mail is not sufficient to invest in redundancy to the desktop.
Businesses have come to depend upon reliable networks for the conduct of operations. Raytheon Company is no exception to this trend. By utilizing a change management process and investing in technical redundancy, Raytheon manages and mitigates the risks of network dependency.
Parent, M., & Reich, B. H. (2009). Governing In formation Technology Risk. [Article]. California Management Review, 51(3), 134-152.
Rouse, W. B. (1999). Connectivity, Creativity, and Chaos. [Article]. Information Knowledge Systems Management, 1(2), 117.