IT management

Managing change in the IT industry

Is there change in the IT industry?

Well, yes and no. It all depends on how you look at it.

Certainly it is in our opinion that certain superficial things do change. In the case of computers, the changes are primarily extra RAM, a faster microprocessor, the size of the monitors, and a larger storage capacity of the hard drives. However, we are also noticing how other things do not change as well. An argument in favour of this view is the way certain sections of the motherboards perform certain functions (just like the functions of the L- and R-brain don't really change after millions of years).

For example, all computers must have a microprocessor. This is an inescapable fact. Without it and the computer would not exist. Similarly, all computers must store digital information somewhere. Today storage tends to be located in RAM and inside the hard drives. Then there are small chips to handle communications with the outside world. Another chip to handle computer sounds. And another chip to control the video/monitor display. Like the brain with its own auditory and visual centres and so on, these electronic components are literally ubiquitous on all computers we have seen to date and is something that is unlikely to ever change in the future.

People change and the technology follows with them

The part of the IT industry which does seem to change a lot are the people themselves, in particular the ideas they have which in turn affects the superficial look and speed of computers.

As computers get faster and faster and the digital storage capacity of these machines greatly expand, new doors of opportunity suddenly materialise to the people who produce, sell and use the technology. These opportunities usually come in the way of new ideas which can be translated into new types of software capable of helping everyone do things considered unheard of nearly a decade ago.

And with these new ways of doing things comes a major change in the way people think which in turn affects the technology of the future as people quickly realise what they can now do.

Why so much change in the IT industry?

Information (and the hardware that manages information) sells, so we try to profit from it. The entire IT industry is driven by commercial endeavours.

In essence, the more people are driven by profit, the more the IT industry changes. The changes are primarily quick and "superficial" solutions such as a new fancy box to hold the innards of a computer, upgrade hard drives, add more RAM, use a new network technology etc.

The problems with change in the IT industry

While change in the IT industry can potentially bring enormous hope and new opportunities for everyone (and not just for businesses profiteering from the selling of changeable technology and information to society), there are also problems associated with it.

Firstly, the focus by IT professionals on quick and "superficial" solutions can lead to products and/or services that are produced to a substandard level or solutions are not designed for the long-term by meeting the current and future expectations of the customers using the full range of features currently available in our technology.

For example, we have already seen classic examples of this problem through products like the Apple PowerBook 5300 computers, and the Apple PowerBook G3 Series "Wall Street" computers.

Secondly, the amount of change we are experiencing in the IT industry and the price we have to pay for this change is widening the gap between the rich and poor, and the ones who have knowledge and those who don't.

Some people will be disadvantaged by the changes. For example, the change we see in the industry can be, and often is, at the detriment of older people who usually find it difficult to keep up with the changes and understand them properly (which is necessary to make sure the changes are valid and useful to society), people who look for stability in employment so they can plan for the future (e.g. have a family, buy a house, achieve something unique on their own where support from the community is not promising, prepare for retirement etc) and, given the generally high cost of the latest technology, the poor as well.

These changes (or opportunities in the words of the business professional) is what's forcing people to change jobs, go to educational institutions and learn new ways of doing things with current technology, move to different cities to live and work, to work very long hours, and so on.

If anyone is best equipped to handle all the changes in the IT industry, it would have to be the younger generation (i.e. those who can be easily moulded to sell things by the powers that be) and only those who are in a reasonably good financial position to deal with the changes (i.e. by getting others to handle the changes).

Is there a way to manage change?

While our business-oriented IT professionals continue on their merry way in doing their own thing for profit rather than learning what the customers really need, and co-operating with all other professionals on a global level in order to make life simple, standardised and more stable for everyone, there is no easy answer to managing change. Nevertheless, there are a few things you can do on an individual level to help minimise the changes.

For a start, don't try to think that spending any amount of money on buying the latest technology will be the way to manage change, especially given the quality of the solutions now being offered by IT professionals. What should be more important to you is:

  1. Knowing what it is you really need to achieve in your life for the good of all; and
  2. Learning and thinking more about the IT industry so that you will know what's available today and where it is going in the future.

By keeping in mind these two important points, you will know which type of technology (or solutions provided by others) is truly important, long-lasting, stable and beneficial for yourself and society as well as knowing which technology will help you to achieve your important goal(s).

Does the technology have to be expensive in order to manage change successfully?

If you think you need the very latest new developments in IT, then go ahead and buy the latest technology. But remember, be prepared to pay a lot for it. This is the reality set by business professionals today.

For the family on an average budget and many non-profit organisations, however, there is no need to acquire all the latest whizz-bang technologies. The software and hardware currently available today or even a few years ago are enough to do practically all the jobs you are ever likely to do in the digital world.

The world of IT does not have to cost you a lot of money. You just have to choose your technology carefully, and stick to a good computer and a particular set of tried-and-tested quality software you are happy to use for a very long time, or choose one very good and expensive software and hardware technology today to ensure compatibility in the decades to come.

For example, computers that run at 500MHz (with a backside Level II cache) to 1000MHz are powerful enough to run practically all the software you will ever likely to need in your lifetime. And if the software is well-designed, they should give you the extra speed and power to do the things you need easily. People may buy faster machines because they want to play the latest 3D adventure and shoot-em-up games, or for research purposes and digital entertainment makers.

We feel using the very latest technology is only good for commercial movie producers, 3D animators, advertisers and others who need that little bit of extra speed and power to help get their products "out-the-door" as quickly as possible. But once the information has been produced, who needs the extra speed and power?

And anyway, making profit does not always guarantee a quality solution. By taking a little extra time, you can think through a quality and valuable solution using any available technology.

What is life suppose to be about in the information age?

The purpose of life in the IT industry is to choose the right software and peripherals to ensure those goal(s) can be achieved now and in the far future in the easiest and most enjoyable way possible because the journey part of life is just as important as the goal(s) you want to achieve.

Just think about what it is you wish to do now and in the future, take a little extra time doing it using new low-cost or older high-end software, and you will produce equally impressive results just like the professionals can do.

The low-cost and quality approach to IT acquisitions

Purchase proven, well-tested and solidly-constructed high-quality computers and software of today in a few years time (the technology should sell at a fraction of the cost they used to be when they first came out, unless the manufacturers are deliberately forcing you to buy the latest technology and nothing else). Talk to computer resellers and manufacturers about this option now before you lose out on getting a quality system in the near future.

Or visit web sites such as SUNRISE for choosing a quality second-hand computer (e.g. a titanium laptop).

Or visit a computer auction; check out the range of second-hand computers from non-profit organisations or local businesses; look at the local newspapers; and keep on eye out on older software available now, or in a few years time (e.g. Adobe Acrobat 4.0.5 is now a classic software package and should sell for a pittance, while the latest Internet browsers will always be free).

When delivering and selling information to people, consider an internet-based system (i.e. a web site). Make use of the free information available online to help you achieve important goals in life. And if you are really clever, you should not have to pay anything for a web site. Use the free ISPs worldwide to help you create your preferred web site. Cost is zilch!

Managing change in the IT industry is paramount for your success

Having trouble keeping up with change in the IT industry? You are not alone! It may be of assistance to you to know that there are a handful of people in the world who can manage the change. And no, these people don't have to be the ones hiding on the top floor of some IT firm laughing all the way to the bank after selling you their latest IT products. These are normal everyday people walking among us who understand what it takes to manage change.

So what's the secret to managing change? Just keep things simple, have a goal in mind of what you want to achieve, and focus on the tried-and-tested, "low-cost", standardised and easy-to-use technologies of great benefit for now and in the future.

For example, moving to the Adobe Acrobat PDF file format technology as an effective "cross-platform" information delivery system is not likely to change suddenly overnight or even in the next 5, 10 or 25 years from now. The power of PDF is too great to suddenly change because of the way the PDF language works. Compared to other languages like PASCAL, BASIC, C+ that keep evolving and new ones formed to replace the old, PDF is one of those languages that won't get replaced by other languages. It will merely expand its capabilities over time with new language commands. However, the latest free PDF readers will not affect the way older PDF documents are read. They will look and feel the same now as it will in 25 years from now. So strongly consider PDF technology as a stable platform for delivering digital documents and books to the masses.

As for dealing with changing computers, look for the ones with excellent expandability, top-quality long-term after-sales service from the manufacturer, easy maintenance, minimum 3 years standard warranty, lightweight and simple to carry around, strong and well-constructed to last a lifetime (preferably your lifetime, not the computer!), and sufficiently friendly to the environment to operate and possibly even be recycled at the end of its lifecycle (which we hope would be unnecessary if it is well-constructed).

Remember, keep it simple and always ask yourself exactly what it is you need to achieve right now and in the future. If it turns out that you really need a computer to do the job, then choose quality IT solutions now that will work today and in many decades from now.

It may mean spending a little more time finding slightly older high-quality products (and buy emulators to help you run them to help stabilise those IT companies wanting to constantly change the current OS such as Apple Computer, Inc.) or new "low-cost" varieties from smaller IT firms wishing to make a quality mark in the IT industry, or (if you are keen) more money to buy the latest high-quality products from big manufacturers to get that stability you need. That's alright. This is the only way you can sort out the lemons and the average products from the really useful and well-designed products.

Where can I go to learn about the more stable and better IT products?

Fortunately there are lots of places you can go to learn about various IT products. For a start, why not visit your local newsagents and purchase (several) IT magazines? Or go to a local public library and do a search on web sites that analyse the pros and cons of the latest IT products.

And don't just stop there. Look at the way the IT companies are run. What are their management styles and what kind of marketing approach do they take when selling their products? For example, if an IT company is supported by lots of shareholders all eager for new products to be produced quickly and sold in the marketplace (because it means a bigger investment for them), and/or there are lots of commission-based salespeople working extraordinarily hard to sell a certain variety of IT products, or the directors of the company are more concerned with profit rather than people like yourself, or it takes a long time for the company to listen to the concerns of consumers when a problem does arise with one or more of their IT products, then you need to be extremely weary of their IT products.

Just listen to the real experts who have to use the technology everyday. Read computer magazines to find out what other people are saying about certain IT products. Check out people's web sites. And don't always rely entirely on what the brochures from computer and software manufacturers say.

Remember, it is your money and your time and you must spend it in the best way possible so you can achieve exactly what it is you need to do for the good of all. Who knows? You may suddenly die tomorrow, and what have you to show for your time here on Earth? If you must spend your time dealing with lemons in the IT industry, then it is a real waste of time and some people really need a good kick in the backside because of it. But if you are spending your time reaching your goal(s) and know you can achieve them because you can depend on your tools to reach them, then you are doing well.

And if you are also enjoying the journey part of reaching your goal(s), then you are doing extremely well.

Because this is the purpose of life. And that is how it should be forever.

But it costs too much to get the stability and quality I need?

Well, that's another IT industry problem at the moment and something that will be addressed soon. In the meantime, if it means you have to pay a little bit extra to get that stability and quality, then so be it. But bear in mind one thing: the cost for you in the long run should be a lot less with a stable and high-quality product than a mediocre one.

Or wait for a little longer and the extra cost in making computers stable and of a high quality now should, in fact, get cheaper over time if the business professionals are serious about sticking to these quality products. And be prepared to check out the second-hand market for quality products.

This focussing back on the people is what is needed in the IT industry. People are more important than computers or profit. People are the ones who will use the technology and achieve important goals for society. Business professionals will just have to remember this fact when producing and selling their products.

Focus on people, not on profit or the computer

Those individuals who focus solely on profit and/or the computer tend to be the ones more interested in finding out what's the latest computers in magazines and online, how fast they can make their current computers go, what extra features they can put inside the "box", and how much and how many computers can be sold in the marketplace. These are the people who will create lots of changes for everyone to adapt to.

Those individuals who focus on people more so than profit or the computer itself are the ones more interested in finding out exactly what the needs of the people are, to learn what it is they are trying to achieve for the good of society, and to go ahead to fulfil those needs in the best way possible. These people-focussed individuals in the IT industry are the ones who will create stability for everyone to enjoy and benefit for a very long time.

Are you focussing on people? Or are you focussing on profit and the computer? No matter how you want to see yourself, whatever you do, make sure it is positive and helps yourself and others to be the best they can possibly be.