Change for a More Satisfied, Less Promiscuous Customer

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Even for an industry as conservative and risk averse as the data center sector, no change spells stagnation not security.

Change is the only constant in life. Or so said Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher who died in 475 BC. It’s highly probable he never heard of Gordon Moore or his Law, or had his breath taken by the speed of change it observed. For Heraclitus, progress was measured in millennia and the most recent technological shift was from bronze to iron (a shift so seismic they named an entire age after each). Nonetheless, he was familiar with the idea that sometimes people have trouble adjusting.

A couple of years back I wrote a blog called “Preparing for DCIM Culture Shock” which aimed to help companies transition to the use of software to better manage their facilities. A key requirement is a clear and communicated change management process to overcome inertia, keep the project on track and eliminate a return to old work habits – a recognized pitfall of business transformation. The broadcaster, Sky, implemented many best practices when rolling out DCIM in their UK data centers.

It seems that in no time at all, things have changed and technology has once again shifted. Today, the combination of ubiquitous cloud, IoT intelligence, data analytics and smartphone apps have created the opportunity to deliver the promise of DCIM to a wider and perhaps newer user group. DMaaS (Data Center Management as a Service) has provided a path towards an even more digitized future. In doing so, we have to acknowledge that technology is not only an enabler of change, it is also a catalyst.

But the older we get, and I’m not being ageist here, the more daunting change can appear. As years gather momentum, things start to move very fast. That’s without factoring in the fact that tech cycles refresh at a phenomenal rate. The gap between the young – for whom no change represents the stagnation of an idea – and the old – for whom even moving a button can be an insurmountable challenge, can easily appear to have become a chasm.

Some of us remember a time when we didn’t have access to corporate email away from our desks. It’s hard to believe that “A Call for Help” by Martin Veitch appeared on the Wall Street Journal less than 15 years ago. Today, people have spent their whole careers entirely accessible to 24x7x365 email, dm and (perish the thought) phone calls. While we may not always enjoy the downside, instant access to answers and information have helped increase time efficiency, reduce costs and lots of other good stuff.

Besides, change is important. For those new generations coming into the workplace who take a life online for granted, there’s a positive attitude towards innovation. There’s an expectation that the workplace should function in the same way as consumer life. Intuitively, socially. We cannot use technical as an excuse for quirky. If an app can let you check in on a flight and get status updates, why shouldn’t another app deliver useful information about a data center?

We’re finding uses for information we never even realized there was a use for. But there is an implicit word of caution for manufacturers. It has already become clear that the internet can make online shoppers less loyal, more promiscuous. This is a function of choice, service, and yes, price too. Technology by its very nature, should advance. Innovation is anticipated, talked about, expected. If it is not forthcoming, it is all too easy to cast around for a new partner to satisfy the urge.

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