It’s a vicious battle. No, I am not talking about the partisan wars between the Democrats and Republicans, but this battle also impedes progress. Nor am I talking about the decades- or centuries-old rivalries between religious or ethnic groups across the globe, but this battle has been going on within enterprises since their first use of computers.
The battle is between the curious and the cautious regarding the use of technology. The curious would call themselves innovators while the cautious call them reckless. The cautious consider themselves prudent while the curious call them Luddites.
This battle isn’t just being fought on the fringes of the technology adoption curve. It’s raging smack in the middle of mainstream technology – including technology that’s already become a best practice within Fortune 1000 companies.
Keeping to what you know
Some people are naturally curious. They want to learn more about their business and how technology can help make it more productive. But the other camp, the cautious, is fine with the way they do things now. They see change as too costly or too risky.
Here’s an example: even though Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) tools, Business Intelligence (BI) suites, On-Line Analytical Processing (OLAP) and predictive analytics are considered best practices and are used daily by many companies, the cautious are content with hand-coding their applications as they have for years.
The cautious are often the people who have developed data shadow systems or spreadmarts over the years to support the business. These systems filled a gap for the business and provided solid value. Their creators were heroes when they built these data shadow systems – they enabled the business to get reports that were otherwise unavailable through their enterprise’s IT systems.
But now these legacy applications are a resource drain. They’re not advanced enough to respond to business changes nor are they likely to be documented, which is a big business risk.
Evolution (and technology) marches on, but the cautious are locked into how they have done things for years. Although they were the heroes of old, now their applications are just legacies. Rather than being part of progress they often resist and thwart it.
Evolve or hurt your business
In this economy IT needs to be more responsive and return real business value. That doesn’t mean jumping onboard the latest technology fad or implementing emerging technology, which might be too risky for many businesses. But it does mean that it’s time to adopt mainstream technology and best practices. Overly cautious people may find this risky, but actually the real risk is NOT evolving.