Prof. Jayanth R. Varma's Financial Markets Blog

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Prof. Jayanth R. Varma's Financial Markets Blog, A Blog on Financial Markets and Their Regulation

© Prof. Jayanth R. Varma
jrvarma@iima.ac.in

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Thu, 18 Mar 2010

Lehman and its computer systems

Perhaps, I have a perverse interest in the computer systems of failed financial firms – I blogged about Madoff and his AS400 last year. Even while struggling to cope with the fantastic 2,200 page report of the court examiner on Lehman, I homed in on the discussion about Lehman’s computer systems:

At the time of its bankruptcy filing, Lehman maintained a patchwork of over 2,600 software systems and applications. ... Many of Lehman’s systems were arcane, outdated or non-standard. Becoming proficient enough to use the systems required training in some cases, study in others, and trial and error experimentation in others. ... Lehman’s systems were highly interdependent, but their relationships were difficult to decipher and not well documented. It took extraordinary effort to untangle these systems to obtain the necessary information.

My limited experience suggests that outdated and unusable software is a problem in most large organizations. I do hope that the ongoing consumerization of information technology will help reduce these problems by putting intense pressure on corporate IT to reform their ways. Perhaps, organizations should consider releasing the source code of most of their proprietary software on their own intranet to help manage the complexity and user unfriendliness of their systems. Consumerization plus crowd sourcing might just be able to tame the beast.

Posted at 18:20 on Thu, 18 Mar 2010     View/Post Comments (0)     permanent link