What do you think an eBusiness’s worst nightmare would be? Actually, i’ve been involved in two over the course of the last 24 hours so, by all means, let me share. First, you should know your worst nightmares by type. There’s the illusionary worst nightmares, which paralyze you in fear but have no bearing on your business. Then, there’s the Sisyphean nightmares that totally cripple a single aspect of your operation by rendering it useless. And, finally, a global nightmare – which is basically like living in some sort of eTwilight-Zone.
Yesterday was my first post-tonsil day back at work, and when i arrived i was greeted by a daunting task: someone had ordered over $2,000 of rock records, and it was my job to swiftly pull them and prepare them for shipping. Of course, swiftly is a relative concept when you have to individually track down over two hundred records, but i attacked the task with as much enthusiasm as i could muster. Meanwhile, my supervisors were at once ecstatic and suspicious of the fortuitous turn of events. But, everything checked out: the billing address matched the credit card, the shipping address matched the billing address, the credit card company enthusiastically approved the charge, and we even spoke to a real live person at the contact number provided with the order. How could it possibly be bogus?
Well, it was, and i can’t even explain it because no one’s taken the time to explain it to me, but after spending almost a solid eight-hour day getting this order together i’ll be spending another day tomorrow integrating it back into our inventory. And, while everyone’s pretty pissed about someone trying to scam us, no one actually spent more than a few minutes working on the actual order other than me, so i’m really pissed. Thus, the Sisyphean nightmare.
The specific nightmare was more dramatic, and even more annoying. Lindsay and i got to work this morning a whole twenty minutes before 9AM, hoping to spend a short day in the office. However, when i flicked the light switch in our room nothing happened. I found this to be especially strange because our lighting is florescent and copious … not the sort of thing that burns out. We chalked it up to random strangeness and headed into the warehouse, only to find it similarly cloaked in darkness. Just then, one of the owners grumped down the hallway and muttered to us “power’s out, working on it.”
Yes, the power. Out. Not in the whole building, mind you. Not in the hallways, or the kitchen, or in the office of our webdesign unit. Oh no. Just in our offices. Which meant no light for shelving, no orders being printed, no fans to blow cool air on the network servers, and no servers to be blown at. Our webpage is served externally, so we weren’t totally out of commission, but the eight of us that eventually turned up for work could only drink coffee and alphabetize in the hallway for four hours before our electrician glibly informed us that he fixed the problem (before being reamed out by the IT person in charge of our in-house servers).
So, if you thought internet outages and being out of ink were the worst of eBusiness’s worries, think again. And don’t think that anything that happens is easily fixed by specialized problem solvers like the ones in that never-ending IBM ad campaign, either. No multinational fortune 500 company can protect you from your electrician randomly flipping breakers, and no amount of fraud protection can protect you from bogus orders that aren’t really fraud.
And now, back to enjoying the ceiling lights.