Migrating to a New Solar System

Curtis Franklin Jr., Executive Editor | 1/24/2013 | 26 comments

Curtis Franklin Jr.
No one questions that migrating to Windows 8 is a process with thousands of moving parts. What many don't realize is just how many of those parts orbit smartphones.

It's easy (and somewhat natural) to focus on the basic software and process issues that come along with a major migration, but the nature of the Windows 8 migration is somewhat different than most of those that have preceded it. Where the migration from, say, Windows Vista (or Windows XP) to Windows 7 was a software-centric event, Windows 8 is an operating system that doesn't make sense without considering new classes of enterprise client hardware.

In most cases, desktop and laptop hardware brings with it a limited number of accessories. A mouse, a keyboard, and external monitor, perhaps a USB hard drive -- unless you're deep into scientific instrumentation or a POS application, that's about it. It's relatively easy for IT departments to standardize on the accessories and straightforward to account for their use and upkeep. When it comes to tablets and smartphones, though, things are different.

At the recent CES 2013 in Las Vegas, it was clear that both tablets and smartphones are platforms around which entire constellations of accessories will orbit as individuals and enterprises alike use the ultra-portable devices for thousands of separate applications. I saw accessories ranging from external camera lenses and components for professional-level video production, to health monitoring devices and medical instrumentation, to payment acceptance and full POS applications. The spectrum of devices and accessories means that IT departments have a whole new set of things to consider when planning a migration.

There are two separate levels of concern when it comes to all these accessories and systems. The first is that it will add complexity when IT departments must plan purchases for both hardware and software. Expertise that serves a team well when trying to decide on ERP software can be of limited value when picking video production packages. Here, let me take a moment to correct those who think that apps like video and audio are solely the realm of the consumer; modern enterprise communications increasingly rely upon video and audio methods for getting a message across. Expecting those messages to be created only by the marcomm department shows a touching reliance on the strategies of the last century. For the rest of the business world, recognizing that essentially every employee is going to make simple audio and video content is a key part of migrating to a new reality.

That new reality becomes even more complicated when employees bring those accessories into the enterprise as part of a BYOD program. It's one thing to make decisions about which components will be purchased when things can be carefully tested and sandboxed before they're brought into the network. When they just show up because they're not the primary smartphone or tablet -- they're "just" accessories -- the possibility for unfortunate interactions and complications increases dramatically.

Simply banning all accessories isn't a good option for most enterprises. Instead, creating a formal employee review program, in which people who buy accessories work with the IT department to accomplish quality control and compatibility testing, may be the key to successfully migrating to Windows 8 -- and all the hardware that comes along for the ride.

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KeithGrinsted   Migrating to a New Solar System   2/3/2013 3:26:03 PM
Re: Is it too late to turn back the clock?
@Curtis and then there are the 'older' guys who are let go because of cutbacks and who expect to walk back in to another job almost immediately then two years later still find themselves looking!

I run a programme to help people that are out of work or facing redundancy get their lives back on track.  I get a lot of IT guys!

The sector is losing a tremendous amount of experience which they'll never get back.

Then of course these guys, if they don't keep their hand in, will also get left behind when technology changes at the pace it does. Their experience is only relevant so long as what they can do is still needed.
KeithGrinsted   Migrating to a New Solar System   2/3/2013 3:14:18 PM
Re: Is it too late to turn back the clock?
@Curtis 'Introspection' yes, that's the word that best describes the process.

Do you think that we have automated so many things in our lives that people just expect things to happen in a certain way and no longer pose the question - WHY?

From a business perspective we have seen the demise in recent months of Jessops (camera shops) and HMV (record stores) with no significant online element and in a market where people don't buy cameras and records as they used to.

Did anyone there ever carry out any introspection?  probably not! If they had done it a few years ago and recognised the direction the market was heading they may have saved themselves.  As it is, Jessops is likely to be bought as a brand and resurface as a web only offering.

Many businesses could do with that ERP motivated examination of business processes.
KeithGrinsted   Migrating to a New Solar System   2/3/2013 3:06:58 PM
Re: Is it too late to turn back the clock?
@Curtis Oh dear! Education! I thin k you and I could beat on about this for a very long time indeed!

I am staggered at the lack of basic knowledge, common sense, relevance,......

Even down to things like young people lacking the ability to make eye contact because of too much dependence on text, BBM, facebook, etc

But there seems to be a general trend toward assuming that people are going to pick things up on their own.  I am self-taught, no-one ever gave me a lesson on how to use a PC or any bit of software, but I wonder if the pace of change now puts everyone at a disadvantage?

I've been made redundant five times in my career (careless I know!) but I have learned to move with the punches, to keep on my toes, and to always be looking for the next opportunity.  But I don't see that resilience much in others!
impactnow   Migrating to a New Solar System   1/28/2013 5:16:48 PM
Re: make use of employee hobby expertise
I do think that would be a more feasible alternative for a lot of organizations facing this challenge it's not going away as well all know but I think organizations are still struggling with the polices and their impacts to staffing and infrastructure.
CurtisFranklin   Migrating to a New Solar System   1/28/2013 12:36:14 AM
Re: make use of employee hobby expertise
@impactnow, do you think that companies might adopt a policy of allowing certain departments or groups to be pilots on a more regular basis as a way to deal with the rapid change? I believe that cloud computing is making this a much more common occurance -- it's going to be interesting to see how different organizations "normalize" the process within the groups.
CurtisFranklin   Migrating to a New Solar System   1/28/2013 12:33:55 AM
Re: Totally different universe
@keveend, my experience with Windows 8 tells me that it's a very, very good operating system: It's just very, very different from the interface most desktop users have become accustomed to. Virtually all the concerns about Win 8 come from that very new Surface interface -- it's superb on a tablet or phone, and a challenge if you're expecting something that looks like Vista on a laptop. It's going to keep the training and support folks busy for years to come!
CurtisFranklin   Migrating to a New Solar System   1/28/2013 12:30:31 AM
Re: Is it too late to turn back the clock?
@Keith, one of the unintended consequences of making our organizations more efficient is that we've given most of our executive teams a very thin bench -- there isn't a deep reserve of good management talent and expertise waiting to fill in should there be an unanticipated vacancy. IT certainly isn't the only enterprise department to feel this problem, but the specialized nature of IT means that the lack can be felt with tremendous force, especially (as in your example) when two experienced hands leave in quick succession.
CurtisFranklin   Migrating to a New Solar System   1/28/2013 12:06:08 AM
Re: Is it too late to turn back the clock?
@Keith, that introspection -- figuring out precisely which business rules to implement in the ERP package -- does seem to be the most complex piece of the ERP implementation, doesn't it? I think that's why we saw so many multi-year, multi-career implementation projects in the 90s!

Ideally, no OS migration will reach that level of complexity, but there are truly some cautionary tales to be told about just how much change an organization can readily absorb in a limited period of time.
CurtisFranklin   Migrating to a New Solar System   1/27/2013 11:48:23 PM
Re: Is it too late to turn back the clock?
@Keith, one of the things I'm growing more concerned about is this focus on minimal functional training -- it seems to be the directon for both business training and university education. I'll save my rant on a proper education for another time, but I keep thinking about Steven Covey's admonition to "Sharpen the saw" -- take time to train and prepare for the tasks to be done. I fear we're too-often doing business with very dull saws, indeed.
impactnow   Migrating to a New Solar System   1/26/2013 9:51:20 PM
Re: make use of employee hobby expertise
I think it's a great idea but I still know of organizations that are struggling with all that new complexity in Windows 8 I am not sure they would even be open at this point  to the experimentation process. I think as organizations get more comfortable overall they will be able to strategize the issues better and plan the policies that will minimize the complexity.
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