One date predicted dramatic scenarios due to perceived issues with the ticking internal clock inside millions and millions of computers worldwide, that if not fixed, would lead to planes falling out of sky, global collapse of financial markets and anarchy in the technology world at that time. The other predicts perhaps less dramatic social impact as Y2K, but will lead to business disruption over time because of one irreversible reason – staying on Windows XP signifies an acceptance that the business has fallen behind the pace of change which signifies something else – marginalization of the IT department.
Strong words so I will do my best to back up my rhetoric.
Y2K will have been some 14 years ago when the clock of expiry turns on the most popular operating system known to mankind – Windows XP. I am told that there are still some 30% of large organizations have not either started or completed this process. It wouldn’t surprise me if true.
Analysts galore spend countless hours trying to predict the impact on the 9th April 2014 and put forward compelling reasons why doing nothing is not an option. But as we know from Y2K doing nothing was an option as we all learned on Jan 1 2000 as the planes didn’t fall from the sky, financial markets still traded and the general perception was that a lot of money was spent for nothing.
In 1999 Playing chicken with the impending doom was something that large organisations either considered and discounted, or kept quiet about as the clock struck midnight. After all no one wanted to be found out for not patching their stuff especially when practically the whole world sat up all night waiting for Armageddon to fall.
In 2014, whilst I can imagine there will be senior stakeholders out there with that slightly nagging feeling that playing chicken again might work, the impact is not going to the be same as Y2K. No one is likely to be cited in national press for not migrating their infrastructure ( yes – infrastructure ) to the next supported platforms. Of course word will leak out and the computing press will go to school to build a list of those shamed by staying put.
And why is playing chicken an option? Because the true cost of fixing the Windows XP thing is not attractive. For the first time ever I believe the true cost and impact of changing the status quo is far reaching and not for the feint hearted. And why is this so? Well on one level it is probably just a hardware replacement programme with a newer operating system, but on another, all important level, the decision to make the change rolls up to something so much more important.
This change? An evolutionary opportunity for the IT organization to catch up with the pace of change, being dictated by the business. Yes pace of change because the decision to remain static on the business workplace – I repeat business workplace – has created such a gulf between IT and the business that the shadow created has dangerously grown. Strong words I know but the Windows XP experience defines or frames the world of work. Oh dear it is so outdated and depicts a complete disconnect from the business thought process.
Let me try to explain in three ways.
- We all know what the IT shadow is. It is that area of business operations that rely on IT services and productivity that does not rely on the ‘recommended’ IT service catalog. Driven by employees exercising choice on devices and access locale, the shadow started the marginalization of the IT organisation. And it is continuing unabated.
- We all understand speed. The speed of change for a business has now far outpaced the speed of change available from the IT organization. Gone are the days where IT dictated the pace. That went south about 10 years ago and is unlikely to return unless IT moves lock stock barrel into the cloud. Unlikely, unreasonable and unrealistic.
- We all understand productivity. The concept of being ‘productive at work’ has moved 360 degrees as technology has enabled this everywhere and anywhere characteristic. The modern world of work now selects the most appropriate technology available during the working day. Whether it be applications, devices and outcomes the average employee is now relaxed with choice on how they collaborate, communicate and participate.
Or more simply put. The decision to replace Windows XP is causing significant headaches for the IT organization. Blast. It shouldn’t but it is! It is because all the cook book best practices used in the past may be working on the ‘technical’ aspects of change – applications, data, migration, and infrastructure and so on – but it is the ‘productivity’ aspects of change that IT is really struggling with. Yes I know it costs a lot of money. Significant sums in fact but the ‘cost’ of understanding what the business needs is where the pain actually is.
And it is simple to see why this is. IT hasn’t really got stuck into the business discussions as they drove towards different ways of working. Sure IT has been out there getting stuck in with the business understanding specific projects or infrastructure needs. Sure IT has been engaging more and more on business case discussions as they worked hard to make sure they understood the desired state expectations for a project, but the ‘design of the new workplace’ is new. Skills aren’t simply there. The business appear to know exactly what they need but IT is falling behind. Whether it is BYOD, mobile working, cloud services, social networking or environmental change to buildings and travel, the business case goes way past the bits and bytes differences that IT is used to.
The next 5 years are going to be massive.
- The young employees will be the mature employees.
- The new entrants will be technological independent.
- Older employees will have either buried their heads in the sand or seen the light ( or retired ) .
- Technology will be so pervasive in every walk of life that the concept of the World of Work will be implicit in what we do both at work and at play.
- Digitization will outpace the operating system decisions we are talking about today.
- IT organizations will still be in situ ( or have been left with the Run function) while others make world of work decisions.
Don’t believe me? Let’s make it 10 years to be on the safe side. No let’s make it 14 years. Because the change between 2014 and 2028 will no doubt witness so much more change than the Y2k to 2014 period.