Archive for projects

The uncomplicated world of information technology

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2009 by newideasconsult

Technology is uncomplicated.

Yes, I know that this seems to be a contradiction in terms for many people, but technology has to be this to be successful.  In my experience technology must always address one or several needs in an uncomplicated KISS manner or it will almost always turn out as an expensive and bloated solution.  IT where I focus my efforts embodies this for me, even in its most basic form it exists as ones and zeroes. For me as a trained engineer it has always been about looking at a problem or challenge and seeing how to solve it, with or without technology. It has always been a situation where getting from ‘A’ to ‘C’ may or may not require technology, and if required then what technology solution would be best fit to get from the one to the other quickly, economically and simply.

Observing the news about current and past IT projects around the world seems to me to show that many of these projects take the approach of ‘I have a technology solution, now where is a problem I can fit into it’ or ‘I have this great solution, I just need to find where in my organization or my customer’s business there is an ‘A’ to ‘C’ issue I can use to press this into’. So they start a complicated under-planned and often unneeded project that ends with the customer believing the complexity of their problem can only be solved by the solution offered, who then spends a fortune on consultants, integrations and licenses only to sit back a year or five later and realize that their savings from this project is either non-existent or in fact negative, or that the ‘problem’ was never as huge as it was sold to be.

These are possibly bold statements to make in some readers views as technology almost always seems complicated and features difficult to comprehend, but those are most often design faults or bad planning in my view and not something to label technology or information technology with.  Information technology over the years grew into a domain for geeks like me, and as is often the case in the land of the blind where the one-eyed find they become kings and leaders, geeks realized soon enough that customers should be treated as mushrooms, kept in the dark, fed manure, and billed and billed and billed.

I generalize here and that is clearly unfair, but there is a large group of people in IT who still prefer to keep their customers in this state for as long as they can so as to maximize their revenues and profits.  After all, if we are listed IT companies, our shareholders become our priorities and not our customers, as with many industries these days I guess.  When we design solutions we do the same again, where we believe representing a solution in the most complex of ways will keep the customer astounded and paying, very often much more than the work is really worth.

The current way to address problems offered to IT companies by their customers, is to consider ways to ‘fit’ them into the solution from one of the big brands, or to bring in consultants who maximize their own revenue opportunities by making lots room within the final solution specification for even more consulting opportunities, which then leads to branded solution providers bringing in their own pre and post sale experts to see what added products could be included, whilst the going is good, and finally a team of integrators to put everything together, with a project manager hoping the final product will come in above the expected profit margin his employer demanded, with very little thought of coming in on budget or on time, or within a working specification for the actual customer who will be paying for and using this solution.

Again I generalize here, but it is absolutely true from my point of view that many such projects over the years have made IT the ‘complex’ industry it is branded as today, and laid the foundation to the fog of ignorance we hope our customers are lost in, so that we can remain the ‘experts’ who can save the day at a fee of course…

Information technology is actually about solving real business problems for me. About finding the lowest cost solution to a business issue, designed to require the least amount of customer employee training to manage in an ongoing manner. Compare that statement with what has been happening in the IT world today, and it comes somewhat short of reality, I agree. I guess for me it is panacea that consultants and IT professionals can think this way, but I stand by this statement. We as professionals have to come to a point in our careers where we change the view we have of ourselves, from ‘lets take short cuts and make loads of profits off our customers’ type of people to ‘let’s help our customers in a real way saving them real money and being there for them over the long term’ type of people. I am not forcing this on anyone, just lamenting the fact that there seem to be much more of the former type of person in our industry these days than the latter, leaving us with a false heritage and little integrity in the end.

Technology is a simple and wonderful solution to many things and it should be sold that way, even to our customers. We should make it our primary focus to roll out the most simplistic of solutions that actually solve business problems and improve productivity, instead of cause more problems and cost productivity. IT can be this to our customers, but it takes a fresh look at our own approach to them, their budgets and their actual business requirements to make a lasting change to our industry and the way people perceive it.