Change Management

26Nov07

My dad has an old LG Reliance phone. The one that Reliance launched it’s services with. It’s old and has a severely limiting feature set. For example- No camera, no web browser ,no color screen and so on. The batteries been changed a couple of times and still dies on occassion, but he’s gotten used to it. He can write sms’s (in all capitals ), he can get cricket scores , fast dialling and all that.

I have been asking/offering him to get a new phone but he’s not really too keen. I guess the main reason for that being that he will have to go through a long learning cycle again. Finding out new ways to do things he could do earlier  would in itself be a big task- forget  using new features like camera’s and mp3 ringtones or GPRS.

It’s the same story for a lot of us. Once we get comfortable with something, we tend to stick on to it and ignore minor niggling issues. For example, I am used to winamp 2.0 look and feel and even if I do move to a new winamp, I try to keep the old look and feel.

I was at an LIC office recently and noticed they run Win NT and on top of that a command line based Star Office. Been sometime since I have seen either. Which brings me to a point I have learnt well over the past year.

For corporates the decision of -when to change -AND- To what to change to-is a whole lot more complicated. Software companies and OEM’s would like enterprises to move to the latest and greatest at the earliest. But when say you are a State Bank of India-Changing from Windows 2000 to Windows 2003 or from RHEL 6 to RHEL 9 is a big big big deal. You have to count not just the cost of the new software and hardware but also the cost of retraining 1000’s of employees who are used to one way of doing things, the endless hours of testing to make sure all old app’s work, the support costs so on ad infinitum. Even if the new systems can help you do something in lesser clicks, still the learning curve is steep.

In the enterprise world, OS’s are hard to transition to/from. Its not like a single consumer who has nothing but music and movies on their computer.

The Web ecosystem is also similar even though the basic structure is totally different. It’s very rare that web interfaces are completely overhauled. I am used to finding my get mail button at the top left and if it’s shifted suddenly, it would disturb me. Google hasnt changed the start page much, Yahoo changed little by little over the years.

The commonality doesent end just yet. Both in the offline as well online worlds, companies that manage this change better are the one’s that make money. Being able to get new users while retaining existing one’s is the challenge.

PS: There really is no point to this. If you were expecting the solution to handling change, keep looking and let me know if you find it. These are just notes I have been making to myself for a while and thought it worth sharing .

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5 Responses to “Change Management”

  1. hehe – me too use winamp old style look

    me wondering why me type in caveman english 😀

  2. If you take a look at other “things we use in daily life” like houses, kitchen appliances, watches, anything other than electronic gadgets, you will see that it would be so simple to use that you don’t put in any effort to understand how to use it. The basics have remained the same in some cases for centuries. Really, when did you see a house where “the UI” has changed ?
    In some cases it has come to show a lack of innovation on the part of the manufacturers of such “things”. However sometimes innovations do take place and they do go on to become the market leaders. One such product is the Aquaguard. I don’t know for sure whether the credit for innovation goes to them or not but the credit for popularising, sure goes to the technical staff of their company. They sell it as a product with guaranteed service rather than just a product. I think that is the simgle most important reason for people using their products.

  3. me too use the winamp – old style. Not all innovation is necessarily good…sometimes i see companies bringing out a new version just to make money.. (Win ME ?) And obviously any large company will definitely not adapt the next one unless seamless transition to the next product is guaranteed and tested. Too many dependencies at work. Case in point my organization just successfully managed to get all their systems to Win XP.. it happened 5-6 months back. They were using Win NT till then.

  4. Gud and so true !!

    Was back home for diwali and this friend of mine accompanied me to state bank
    and was like dude ! why the fk they still using that shitty windows ( the guys is
    using cracked Wis-ta I got him !! :-SS ) and my reply was on the lines of this post …

  5. kya gyaan diya hai, jai ho software baba ki !!!


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