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A new survey found different answers depending on the respondent's role and company size. But the consistent theme was that performance engineering is changing and expanding as its importance grows.

Computers stopped delivering accurate information to the dispatchers, and the only safe solution was to stop planes from taking off. While the delay lasted only a few hours, so many people were affected that some estimates put the failure's cost at over $4 million.

This isn't the only problem United has had. In February 2014, the airline's check-in computers failed at three major hubs, and in January 2014, it canceled about 1,500 flights because of another malfunction. United's problems are actually quite common. Southwest Airline's computers failed when they rolled out a big web sale in June 2015, and for several days passengers had trouble buying tickets.

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Stories like these are on the rise in every industry, and the damage to a business's reputation and bottom line can be substantial. When United grounded its planes, the direct costs were easy to calculate by tallying the costs of taking care of the passengers and rebooking them.

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