I have been disconnected, without a working computer for a day and a half! You are probably wondering, "how did that happen?" "how did you survive?" "what did you do?" and honestly, I hardly know. It's been a blur. But one thing is crystal clear - a simple upgrade is ANYTHING but simple!
Based on the recommendation of a couple of friends, who had just gotten new computers and were talking up some of the useability features of the Windows 7 operating system, I sat down at my computer and decided I would do the upgrade from XP. The upgrade packet had been sitting on my desk for the last couple weeks and I decided it was time to commit.
Little did I know what I was committing to! Like many a blind date, where you hold out hope for Mr. Right, but open the door to a guy wearing too tight pants and smelling slightly of dirty socks, I found myself facing a situation fraught with mind-numbing discourse and disappointment. I had tried to do everything right - I had backed up all my files, I had all the software ready to load, I had all the product keys in hand - I was feeling good, maybe even a little cocky! Then I opened the DVD drive, and just like opening the door for that blind date, it was all downhill from there.
Time stood still - only it didn't and I lost a day and a half of productivity! That's a lot for anyone. The Strategy Group conducted a study a couple years ago where more than 32% of respondents (representing companies with 100 or more employees) stated they had zero tolerance for network downtime. They estimated the average cost incurred when something went wrong with the network was $3 million per day, with 10% of the group estimating it would likely cost them more than $10 million in damages and lost revenue per day. Infonetics Research estimated that large businesses lose an average of 3.6 percent in annual revenue due to network downtime each year.
On my own small scale I could relate - I felt the pain. If Windows 7 buys me an extra 10 minutes a day of productivity, due to it's ease of use, I am going to still need 72 business days to get that time back! So what did I do wrong?
I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person. I am fairly technically conversant - I have even passed a few IT/networking certification courses. I can follow instructions and have basic common sense. (I feel a need to include these last attributes to ease the minds of the support folks who asked me questions like "are you sure it's turned on?" or "are any of the lights blinking?") So, why couldn't I get my computer,applications and network up and running in a reasonable amount of time?
I am not trying to shift blame, but I don't think it is me. And I don't think it's specific to any one particular OS. I think it is the overarching complexity associated with all the software and hardware that we increasingly relying on to run our lives, businesses and governments. Think of all the different vendors that make up our extended technology ecosystem - oh, and don't forget the open source folks. Then think of all the different products each one offers and all the different versions of each of those products that exist out there. One change to one of those things is enough to throw everything else out of whack. It's enough to make your head spin and start some serious finger pointing.
Specifically, I heard, "sorry, it's not the hardware, that's a software issue," "those applications are compatible, but not those versions," "yes, we sold you that package and it did include that application, but we can't do anything (unless you want to pay us $$$), so you will have to talk to the individual application vendor to get a specific solution..."
Each individual application or services is working on being "simple to use," but when you put them all together they don't always play nice. Anyone in IT will tell you that while everything is "interoperable" it doesn't mean its going to work together, at least right away. Which explains, why 70% of IT's time is spent on simply keeping things going; simply keeping up with the changes that occur during regular course of business, along with necessary patches and security upgrades, to make sure everything is working. There has to be an easier way!
Is it a pie in the sky dream to wish that vendors would come together and truly provide solutions with a simple evolution path that makes it easy for anyone, including me, to upgrade my system? Are there simply too many vendors? Or is it that things are changing too quickly? Will it be something else entirely that will bring us simplicity? Should we be focused on using hosted or managed services in the cloud to take much of the complexity out of the hands of end users? What are your thoughts? I would love to know.
I have faith that simplicity is on the horizon because it has to be... It's the only way we will get what we need from our technological resources to sustain innovation, efficiencies and meaningful change on a worldwide scale. It has to be simple for everyone, so everyone can use the resources and take part. The alternatives, like Mr. Wrong, are just not palatable.