Windows XP is due to retire next year. This a irrefutable fact.
The Next Device is a concept and is the basis of this post.
Someone – lets call him FRANK who is a stakeholder with influence when presented with supplementary ‘facts’ on the landscape facing the decision to ‘migrate from Windows XP to a new Next Desktop’ uttered the following claim ” typical scaremongering and not helpful. This decision is easy. We will do what we did last time”. When I heard this I felt a cold shiver as Albert Einstein entered the room. His words “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” came rushing into my consciousness.
The supplementary facts were things like ;
- the number of applications compatibile ( or not ) with the Next Device the number of non supported applications running business critical data services but NOT supported by IS teams
- the number of applications with no data relating to who can support and remediate on its journey to the Next Desktop
- the drain of skills who know what specific applications do
- the cost to discover, analyse and present all this data
- the cost to validate the impact
- the cost of the infrastructure to support the change
- the balance between this and real business IT projects
- the extent of the licensing change if the application is moved/upgraded
- the impact on training and support
- and ……………………………..so on an so on ………………
- Life is too short to list them all to be honest.
What is the Next Device by the way ? it doesnt actually matter. The point is this – It wont be Windows XP and it will very different than it was in 2003.
Actually we all know the Next Device does truly matter as it now empowers users to do smarter things faster and more efficiently, but for the first time ever IT organizations face a massive challenge selecting the right Next Device and the tools, processes and controls. This challenges tranlsates to a simple but actually incredibly difficult thought process. This thought process goes something like this – if the Next Device actually means multiple different form factors, usage scenarios, security considerations and support options then how do I (1) produce a cost budget (2) select the tools (3) migrate the estate (4) support the estate (5) maintain service and the hardest one of all (6) innovate!!!!!! ( musnt forget this word)
Lets go back to FRANK for a minute who thinks its just like last time, and therefore, pretty straightforward. Probably a big fan of KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID 🙂
Firstly when was last time, FRANK? 10 years ago? Sure you may have refreshed the hardware a couple of times since then but come on the knowledge and impact of buildling a Windows XP environment compared to what the Next Device of 2013 looks like totally reaffirms Albert’s quotation. Just because you ‘know how to deploy thousands of Windows XP machines from a gold build and get the apps installed by hook or by crooks 10 years ago” doesnt mean you can use ‘that approach and thinking” which actually caused “more underlying issues and support problems then youwould like to admit” to “assess, design, build, deploy and support” our Next Desktop concept.
I would ask FRANK to playback where his business was 10 years ago. Who works for a business that looks and feels the same as it did in 2003? This is a key point. Your business no longer solves problems the way they did way back in 2003 so why the hell should you with your desktops and laptops! Because in my mind the Next Device is being identified as so much more than a desktop PC and a laptop. it is so much more than a cable stuck in the back. it is so much more than applications installed from CDs, DVDS or fancy tools. it is so much more than a support person doing a bit of remote control. It is so much more than a device to support the real business applicaions which run on nice client server platforms controlled by the IT guys. IT IS SO MUCH MORE.
What is more relevant and immediate is that people already have their Next Device. It runs on their smartphone. They have it on their PC at home. Their tablet used for social networking and web surfing is running it. People are comfortable. They know how to so smart things quickly and easily. They can be agile. They can be flexible. They share. They collaborate. Their friends and family have the same Next Device. They can swop devices. They can exercise choice. Their kids have it. Those kids have grandparents who also have it. Not having it is now a social negative. ( OK Im being a little dramatic now )
Then these people they go to work. Ouch! When they do they go back 10 years. FRANK is waiting for them but they dont like it. They use it as a reason to leave and find a job where they get the Next Device. They even use it to select whether to join a company. The demographics and IT experience is now an influence. Sadly not a fact for the gentleman above but definately an influence. They marginalise FRANK and he doesnt see it happening.
So what do we do as influencers, consultants and advisors. We do this. We give them a rationale. A different way of thinking. Call it a question set. Or decision tree. Something that takes what we know of the past but aligns to the what the future will be. It takes the reality of the 3 Ps – people, process and technology – and blends in what we know of the future. It isnt hard. It just needs focus. It doesnt need emotion. It doesnt need irrational statements. Come on FRANK. It needs somewhere to start. Wherever this may be it has to be somewhere. Throwing all the issues, risks and challenges up in the air like a deck of cards and expect the answers is foolhardy and irresponsible. Equally just focusing on one narrow stream like security or applications without taking a wider view is daft too.
You see the Next Device is a big shift change. Dare I say Paradigm Shift!! Businesses are at a significant crossroad. They should be asking themselves 3 simple questions.
A. Do we do what we did last time? ( my friend above )
B. Do we develop a way of thinking and questionning that lets us make the best decisions with the knowledge we have of the past and the future?
C. Do we do nothing and find a work around?
Of course B is my recommended approach. But remember the audience has to understand that B has some pain and hard work to get right. Why? Well because unbelievably the number of ‘people who have done it before successfully’ is a very small number. And it exacly this that in fairness to FRANK above too often A and C present an attractive option. However option C is running out unless the business is looking to totally fall off a cliff and Option A may no longer be the most optimal ( financially and operationally ) route to take. And this is because the last 10 years have moved on from mundane decisions on desktops and applications. IT has grown up. Organizations have made decisions outside IT that embrace cloud, web services, social collaboration, innovative workspace management, B2B trade, knowledge management and self service capabilities. None of which demonstrates ‘lets do we what did last time” and more importantly, none of which seeks a desktop that looks like “what we did last time”. Get the point FRANK?
OK so deep apologies to FRANK but my pont is deadly serious. For those reading this who have nailed the Next Device then I applaud you. For those who havent then I implore you to think about your rationale first. Work with people with like minded thinking. Widen your circles. Dont go narrow. Dont go wide. Be reasonable but be prepared to be bold. Hard decisions are needed.And for FRANK let me conclude by saying this – “does your organization have time, desire, budget and risk appetite to experience the same transition to Windows XP that they went through 10 years ago”.
This is the crux of the post and I hope something to chew on.