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Tuesday, 8 February 2011

If nothing is Rocket Science, then what’s left?

One of the most common phrases I hear in business today is “It’s not Rocket Science”, this has become the most common method of telling someone they should just understand what you are explaining to them. Think about it – how often have you heard someone say “It’s not rocket science people – get on with it!”, I would challenge though that we are increasingly using this an excuse for not understanding the capabilities of the people around us or to avoid having to potentially expose our own lack of knowledge on a topic which could highlight we are equally unaware of. I often wonder have we gone too far with the use of this term, and have we potentially reached a point where we are over simplifying the linkages between Business and Technology.

Let me share an example with you, I met up with a CTO a short while ago who was sharing his annoyance about the businesses inability to understand why it was complicated to establish a centrally hosted virtual Unified Communications center. The business owner apparently had the expectation that it should be ready to go within three months, which the CTO of course found ultimately frustrating; his frustration was only heightened when the business owner told him he did not understand what was so hard about it … “it’s not Rocket Science”. At this point the CTO looked like he was about to explode, I then asked him how he trained the business unit teams in the use of the IP Phones, to which his response was “What do you mean train? It’s not …” he suddenly realized what he was about to say but caught himself. I then asked him was it more to do with an expectation of you know so they should know it, which in turn created an expectation from the Business owner who assumed that if the IP Phone was child’s play then establishing a virtual Unified Comm.’s platform should be a walk in the park! (They are still trying to deploy the solution today!)

This is what brings me to the second part of this article, have we reached a point where we are over simplifying the technology that is allowing businesses to be increasingly agile and drive further innovation and growth? I recall being told a few years ago by a Marketing Manager that technology leaders were overcomplicating the solutions they were trying to sell/deploy with businesses and that what was required was a business outcome approach. We quickly got on board with that approach and started focusing on business outcomes, unfortunately to the point of regarding the technology that addressed those challenges as mere products you might buy off a shelf. Consider for a moment, the terms of Cloud Computing and Unified Communications, most people are familiar with what these solutions “could provide a business”. Let’s look at one solution – Unified Communications – this solution requires the real time integration and seamless interworking of a Voice, Video, Chat, Email, Address book, Calendar and Presence tool set. To give you a comparable view imagine trying to integrate your TV, Wi-Fi, Skype, Instant Messenger, your personal calendar and your phone to all work through your TV – sounds great right?  (I can already see the reactions of some of the Tech experts saying been there done that! ) but equally it seems very complex right? Well this is similar to deploying a FULL Unified Communications solution; to the expert this is a series of logical steps to the rest of us it really does look a lot like Rocket Science!

Of course at this point there is the so what question? Does it really matter that we are over simplifying technology and what it means to each of us and how we engage with each other on the topic of technology? YES! If you can recall a previous article I wrote on Business versus Technology then we are at a cross roads of corporate tech-culture and the need in balancing technology with the business model a business is actually seeking to drive forward. It is VERY important that we have a business culture of understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses, for example there is a reason we hire Engineers to be Engineers and Account Manager to be Account Managers these are specific requirements with specific expertise, of course that doesn’t stop either group challenging the other as to why they cannot understand something they consider to be so straightforward. If organizations could recognize this landscape and avoid the over simplification of technology - or even to that effect, Sales Processes or financial modeling – then an organization would be able to leverage the combined strengths of all functions within an organization . This would then ensure alignment across the business as to how technology would improve the efficiency, performance or agility of an organization. Thus creating a working environment embracing change through technology, rather than resisting it with the sole purpose of avoiding the difficult question as to why they don’t understand. Technology IS complex and despite the interfaces becoming easier to understand the successful execution of technology programs lies in the hands of the beholder, understand the experience and manner in which the users will leverage the technology and you have a foundation for a winning strategy.

So I ask the question again, if nothing is Rocket Science then what’s left? Apart from Rocket Science of course!

2 comments: said...

Well, there's always brain surgery.

Nathan Bell said...

true, brain surgery is definitely up there ... :)