Misfortune for one can be a lesson for many

By Peter McDonald, MEA CEO

So many in Australia woke today to the inconvenience of the Optus network breakdown. Their capacity to go about what they take for granted – the ability to communicate with whomever they want whenever they want and the value that contributes to living life as usual – has been taken away.

Lots of us now have improved resilience aptitude for dealing with unforeseen hurdles as a result of the events of recent years. A strangely wrapped blessing it seems.

But what’s happened today highlights the principle of the worth of a reliable network – or perhaps more correctly the impact of losing one.

Relationship network breakdowns and communication network breakdowns are similar in that they disrupt the flow of something valuable. In the case of relationship networks, it's the exchange of trust, support, and collaboration; in communication networks, it's the exchange of data and information.

In both cases, resolution often involves identifying the root cause and taking proactive steps to restore functionality. For relationship networks, this may mean addressing misunderstandings or conflicts, while for communication networks, it involves fixing technical or infrastructure issues.

Both types of network breakdowns have consequences that can impact individuals or organisations. Emotions, collaboration, and relationships can be affected, and financial losses, security risks, and operational disruptions can result.

Prevention is always better than cure. Proactive measures taken to prevent breakdowns including building strong relationships, maintaining open communication, and implementing redundancy and security measures are strategies that can be applied to minimise the risk of a breakdown.

While conceptually different, similarities in terms of the impact of disruption caused by relationship and communication network breakdowns are shared, as is the need for proactive measures to prevent or address those. Effective communication and problem-solving are essential in both scenarios to uphold connections and ensure functionality.

I suggest there’s a lesson for all of us to take from Optus’ misfortune today – with the cause for it unknown at the time of writing – in that frequent sanity checking of, and continued investment in, our important networks will see them preserved and better insulated from catastrophic risk, and the negative outcomes those risks produce if they come to fruition.

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