Too many choices

Microsoft are giving us too many choices. We’re going to move our organisation to a competing technology that offers less choices.
We know the platform we move to will have it’s short comings. But we can choose from a number of different third-party services that integrate with the new non-Microsoft platform.

We will evaluate each third-party service and after we have narrowed down the choices, we can put together a modern workplace that is as good as Microsoft’s offerings. Maybe better.  We will convert and migrate the conversations we want to keep and migrate the documents. We’re going to run some introductory training workshops, to show the basics. I’ll keep it simple. Here’s how we all will communicate in our organisation. This is how we will all create and share documents. This is the way we’re all going to find and connect with each other across the different services we will use. Some services will be new and we’ll let usage grow organically.
We will curate a list of training resources for each of the services to help our organisation get up to speed. 
We will subscribe to each third-party service at the beginning of each month to make sure the invoices all arrive at the same time.
Every month, we will log into each of the services and view reports on active use. Then we’ll aggregate all the usage data and show how our organisation is adopting each of the services. Yes, we’re confident in all the choices we will make as we move away from Microsoft.

I’m taking a fresh look at this problem of having too many choices in technology.  In this series of posts, I will share my opinions and hope to generate some discussion in the community. I’m sure my opinions will be enriched by the responses I receive. The common theme throughout the posts will be that we will always have choices. Where we draw the line can determine the complexity of those choices; around a product, a vendor and their ecosystem, around a selection of vendors? 

IT. Presenter of choices

The IT department has traditionally played the role of evaluator and presenter of choices in technology. They listen to the needs of the organisation, identifying and documenting business problems.

Lists are built and candidates are chosen. Some exceeding the requirements. The possible candidates are presented to the decision makers with approval power, the power to choose. By now, the IT department is firming up some recommendations. They are leaning towards something that fits the requirements and is easy for them to manage.

During the evaluation process, IT should have gathered opinions from a range of business units that will be using the technology, because IT Pros will see things through their lenses and their capability to understand. But Operations, Marketing, Finance, Sales people see things differently, relative to the knowledge and processes they have. The choices are made based on requirements, ease of implementation and management and among other things, how much will it cost.

Do all technology choices follow this path? Nope.

  • Our CEO was talking to their CEO friend on a fishing trip about what technology they’re using. They said they’re having successes with XYZ system and you should look into it.
  • Meanwhile, the Marketing team has a need that isn’t being filled by the current technology available. They hear of a cloud service a friend is using. Or maybe there’s a business version of a consumer service they already use. They drop in the company credit card details because it is within their monthly budget and boom, they have what they need.
  • An individual brings their own device to work because they don’t want to carry two around and they have become quite adept in using it. They figure out how to use the device with the systems at work and show others how to do the same.

The IT department’s traditional role of evaluater and presenter of choices is still important but it’s not the only source of choice. Opinions are formed from so many different perspectives now. Individuals and groups have the power to side-step corporate choices.

Choices are everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you draw the line. People still need to make choices.

If your organisation is “overwhelmed by too many choices” with your collaboration tools and platforms and you’re fighting a battle to reduce the number of choices, you’re looking at it wrong. Choices are everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you draw the line. People will still need to make choices. They are making choices. They have a business need, the current operating environment doesn’t meet those needs so they are going outside the organisation to get the solution.

IT departments now more than ever, need to be the concierge of choices. In the world of software as a service, there is less to install, a less to configure, but a whole lot more to understand and make your organisation aware of. That’s taking many IT Pros out of their comfort zone. They are more comfortable working out the technology, implementing, configuring and maintaining it. They are less comfortable with the soft skills of communicating what they know to someone less technical. There’s untapped productivity gains lying dormant in the software and service. The features are working because IT Pro’s have made them work. But they’re underused because no body is showing them. We have a responsibility to inform individuals of their choices and pair their needs with the capabilities of choices available.

In my next post and following posts, I’ll begin pulling apart my statements at the beginning. “Microsoft are giving us too many choices.” If you find yourself stirred up to agree, disagree, correct me or offer a different viewpoint, I welcome the discussion. #LearningOutLoud

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