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Technology As A Barrier To Change

New technology is usually viewed as both a driver and an enabler of change. But sometimes the reverse is true.

Big businesses feel comfortable making big decisions about big spends on big solutions. When technology is seen in companies as the solution to a business need, the answer can often look like a large, expensive, proprietary software system.

Because it is expensive, the system is complex enough to require a lengthy training course to understand how to use it and is accompanied by a thick user manual that few people ever read.

As it is complex, when people (being people) make errors it requires valuable management time to unpick them.

It is inflexible to changing requirements. It attempts to mold people to its needs, rather than molding itself to the needs of the people that use it. It is not open-source, because it comes from a world where value has traditionally been generated through protected proprietary assets.

Because it is designed to fulfill a specific function in a specific way, the cost of adaptation is high. When adaptatation is required (as it inevitably will be) new functions get added in layers so that it becomes more unwieldly over time, not less.

Adding more users to the system simply makes it more expensive, not more powerful.

Because of its high cost, it is retained by the business for an extended period of time, and eventually required to fulfill functions that it was never designed to do. So it does them badly.

Perhaps it is one of several such systems within the organisation. Systems that likely don't talk to each other. At least not intuitively. So data and outputs are difficult to join up. And more management time is spent dealing with anomalies.

Sometimes a big expensive system is the right way to go. But the consequences of the choices we make are often hidden. If you make it expensive to change, you will likely not. And nothing endures but change.

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