Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Trouble brewing at the BBC

Back in November the Grauniad ran a piece about troubles with the BBC's new IT system that had just been installed by Siemens
"The BBC has been hit by a major technological breakdown affecting its phone and computer networks that could cause chaos for the corporation's news output and leave it marooned in a "pre-digital age"
Read it here

A week or so later I read over at iamseb.com

"The prob­lem is that the BBC doesn’t con­trol its own tech­nical infra­struc­ture. In an act of stag­ger­ing short-sightedness it was out­sourced to Siemens as part of a much wider divest­ing of the BBC Technology unit. In typ­ical fash­ion for the BBC, they man­aged to select a tech­no­logy sup­plier without inter­net oper­a­tions exper­i­ence. We can only assume that this must have seemed like an accept­able risk to the tower­ing intel­lects run­ning the BBC at the time. Certainly the staff at ground level knew what this meant, and resigned en masse. 

Read the full article here

Today the Register is running this story
"Siemens IT staff working at the BBC are mulling possible strike action over a planned pay freeze by the tech firm.
Bectu said it was sending out ballot papers to members today, in which the broadcasting union recommends industrial action.

The ballot will close on 19 March and followed Siemens' decision to bring in a pay freeze for employees working on its 10-year Beeb contract.
Bectu said more than 70 BBC contract staff had been laid off by Siemens, which provides technology, transmission and IT services to the Corporation."

Full story here

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. The BBC has succumbed to the madness that plagues the NHS and government departments. They all spend public money without regard for consequence. There is no accountability at the heart of these organisations. In fact the only people in danger of losing their jobs are those who do the work and know what is going on.
The first act of these vandals of business upon gaining office is to get rid of anyone and everyone who is deemed a threat. These tend to be the ones who actually run the business and know exactly how it works. With them out of the way, madness begins. Oblivious to the age old truths that if it ain't broke don't fix it, and ignoring the mantra that cheapest is dearest, they order systems without knowing what they are buying or having the foggiest idea of how it is supposed to work. As the man said- "what do you mean it's automatic? I have to press this button!"
The smooth talking salesman sees an opportunity for profit and bumps the price up. It doesn't matter if the thing will work. IT professionals are ignored. They say it won't work and a few sorry years later say I told you so.
Meanwhile the very people whogot rid of the knowledge base are floundering. Something must be done they say. Someone pipes up "This is something!" so they all say in unison "Let's do that!"
Down at the BBC the shit has hit the fan. They've locked themselves into a contract with a supplier who has no track record in IT. The system doesn't work. Trouble is the BBC transferred all the staff to Siemens and they're in danger of losing their jobs. They can't go forward and they can't go back.
And the BBC bosses carry on as if nothing happened. No-one will lose their jobs over this, except the innocent workers. The clever ones jumped ship long ago.
How does that song go?
"It's the same the whole world over, it's the poor who get the blame.
It's the rich wot has the pleasure, ain't it all a bloody shame."

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