We have just about completed the Windows 7 Year of the Refresh Roadshows throughout North America. For those of you that I have had the pleasure to meet and chat, I thank you. The sessions and the follow on Q&A flagged several issues and concerns, and validated many of our beliefs about this upcoming refresh cycle. First the disclaimer.
The opinions and comments expressed on this blog are mine, and do not represent those of my employer.
One of the key points that we validated in the sessions, was that this refresh cycle will, for the most part, require a detailed business plan with concrete ROI and contribution calculations. Moreover, this refresh cycle wil require a definitive statement of benefits to the enterprise. We also validated that with Windows 7, new product features, new technologies (virtualization), practice improvements, security, (I could go on and on, but the point is made) suggests that this business case simply is compelling as any we have collectively seen in the industry.
Interestingly, when I asked the question if the business case would be the key mobilizer of the technology refresh cycle, the response was almost universal in its positioining - not without addressing the politics of the refresh.
We have known from previous research that a good (or even great business case) can be trumped by politics, social issues, cultural concerns, and emotional issues. In this refresh cycle it is clear that there are inhibitors to the refresh cycle. This may or may not be a "bad" thing.
In Closed Loop Lifecycle Planning (my research) we have concluded a number of findings in regards to the emotions of change:
1) You cannot overcome emotional argument with business logic
2) Even the best ROI and business cases need to address the emotional, political, and social aspects to succeed
3) The Great Recession is a game changer
Based upon this, the question is how to manage and address organizational behavior. To a high degree, we in IT are our own "worst enemies" in this respect. When we were asked to do more with less, we did a lot more with a lot less. When asked to make older technology work, we made the older technology work (and work well). Now we are at a point where client technologies need to be updated, but the political realities take over- cash is stil short, the economy is still uncertain ... so IT , "squeeze out another year". This tends to be played invariably in one form or another.
To some degree this is really a cause and effect that could be predicted. For many years, PC's and many technologies in general were viewed as "commodities". None of us would argue (or for that matter win the argument) that there is clearly a commodity aspect to PC's. But allowing the argument to go unchecked over time, leads us to the scenario that when we can innovate (such as virtualization, W7, etc) , the commodity perspective takes over. Quantifying the business case will not be enough in many cases since there will be a perspective that at the end of the day, how can you improve on a commodity? Politically, those who believe this may be likely less receptive to a technology refresh of scale since that would suggest that delaying the cycle could have had a less than positive impact to the enterprise.
In the blog we have discussed the potential of continuous process improvements (8% to 10%), the opportunities for step changes (>25%), energy management >$30 per seat, improved productivity >68%, and other amazing statistics that could accompany this refresh cycle. Much of the technology that is available now did not even exist pre-Great Recession.
Addressing the potential of this refresh cycle, requires IT to understand the organizational biases and ground that has already been staked out in terms of position. If once a commodity always a commodity exists, this is an inhibitor.
Perhaps a logical technique to engage is to focus on the economics, identify the perceptions, acknowledge them, and incorporate the objections up front into the dialog. Ignoring the objection will likely result in a sub-optimized IT refresh. Emotionally, convincing teammates that the refresh cycle is not about a commodity discussion will be decidedly different than other refresh cycles.
To some degree, this refresh cycle is about "green field"- a new playing field that is driven by a unique set of circumstances.
This is my perspective, I would like to hear yours!