Driving a technological steam locomotive

Many people seem to think that by sticking to a past technology, using the same at present, will forecast and settle their “comfortable future”. There is no need for the change as the way we are doing things will keep happiness in our lives…

All is fine, everything is working…there is no need to look elsewhere since changing may bring trouble. Why to change for something unknown? It will surely bring uncertainty, a learning curve and it may not even work at first…let’s stick to what we know. I call this “the steam locomotive” analogy.

I compare these companies and way of doing things like if they were still using a “steam locomotive” to travel. We continue feeding it with coal, lots…and each time more and more expensive, the locomotive becomes more inefficient as we demand for more…but since it has been working so well we have to keep it, burying our heads in the sand just in case there is something around that forces us to change our preconceived ideas.

Then, one day, someone mentions that there are other ways of traveling, that there are electric trains, that there is something that moves through the air called “airplanes” and that you can go to some destinations even faster by car, some even electrical. I whole new world opens before your eyes and you have to adapt.

Let me ruin your “comfort zone” with some thoughts:

“What is all about “technology change” today? Everything is good”

Adapting…this is where many people fail. Accepting and adopting new ways will make people question these new methods as they are far too skeptical for the change: that new solution will not scale to our needs, it is too expensive, we don’t have the training for it, it will not be secure…excuses, pure lame excuses.

How many times we have found this scene in our lives. Companies keep the old values and status-quo as it is working and trying to do things some other way may bring unknown results…or, at least, uncomfortable situations as we will have to come out of our comfort zone: Welcome to reality!!! Life is change and adapting means survival.

“Let’s wait until we can see the benefit on someone else (aka the “flock of sheep” symptom)”

We ourselves must have the curiosity to progress. Unfortunately if you depend upon someone else things will just not happen. Let’s be honest: most people are reluctant to the change and most of them are like a flock of sheep, only behave in a different way after there is a firm probe that it is working somewhere else. If you are one of those let me tell you that your company will never be in a position to compete and be successful. Those who risk are the winners as nothing has ever been written about cowards (technologically speaking that is).

“Let’s investigate until we have all the details”

…and will be too late. In the world of technology and progress, by the time you have all the details, it is too late. If you have to take a decision that means being ahead of everybody else, simply, don’t wait. Once you have enough details to make a decision (which it is normally considered to know about 70% of all data) then move ahead. Of course it may go either way, but if you hit lucky you will be in a much better position than most of your competitors.

“Let’s wait for the right opportunity”

There never is a right moment to move away from something carved in stone in many companies. It will always be a bad moment for the customers, for yourselves, for the market, for finance…and a very long etc. You may not jump on that wagon all at once, but you can start making small changes, implement demos or down-scaled simulations. With these small steps you will be able to commit to the change.

“Let’s wait until we are offered the technology”

Let’s laugh together, shall we? Who is going to bring it???…let’s see:

  • Your business partners or “sister company”.

Those in business know that, in many occasions, waiting for a partner to bring a solution within the same multinational is tricky. There is a lot of backstabbing as everybody tries to control everybody else. Bringing a new technology is key for success. The first to do so will phagocyte the rest of business units or companies in the group. Do you think now that they will share with you the chance to succeed jointly? …yeah, right…

  • Your customers.

If a customer comes to you asking for a change or for a new technology, chances are that it was because someone else has already offered it to them. If you learn about changes this way…wake up!!! There are overtaking you.

  • Your providers.

Don’t forget: Providers are there to make money out of you. Don’t you ever think that something is free, it is an offer or even they are there to help you. I know it sounds harsh but, in my experience over the years, what is free is always the most expensive at the end (call it favor to be paid back, call it expectations on services to be awarded). Don’t get me wrong, on a person-to-person relationship things can be very good, reach an outstanding personal level…but don’t get distracted at the end of the day: the provider works for his/her company and has a sales target to achieve.

Additionally, the more the market progresses the more your providers have to be agile to bring those changes to you. However, should that change mean that they will not be billing you as much as they are doing right now, they will drag their feet far and beyond any acceptable point. They have some stock that they had to get rid off before the new product is offered to you: same story every year with mobile phones: until recently your “latest mobile” was built with a 3 or even 4 year old technology until the introduction of the “Asian challenguers” which has forced the time-to-market to be reduced dramatically, being the lifecycle from inception to distribution not larger that a couple of quarters of year some times(witht the associated and accepted risks that this implies) or providers that have invested heavily in a technology that they are not willing to throw away (just remember the change from frame-relay to MPLS and now onto SD-Wan).

Bottom line

If you want to progress:

YOU have to be the change

YOU have to be interested

YOU will be the catalyst for things to happen

“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”


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