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Teaching an Old Dog New Technologies Twitter Facebook Print E-mail
Written by Aimee Smith   
Thursday, 07 May 2009
Fetching the paper was once a useful and impressive skill for a dog to have. To keep pace with technology, though, Fido now needs to be able to get online, create a registration, subscribe to a news feed, and download a podcast. Fido has his work cut out for him—as do we—to keep pace with the increasingly diverse and complex technologies available. We must not only maintain our current service levels, but remain as appealing to our customers as that new puppy in the window. The trick is to identify and manage the gaps between the technologies we have, the technologies we are developing, and technology trends.

Old dogs have been trained until we are comfortable with them and they meet our needs. Working with old dogs is like working with old technologies and platforms. They require an investment in time and resources to ensure that the environments are operationally efficient, that we have skilled staff, and that documented processes are utilized by those who build and maintain the applications running on these environments. We develop a good relationship with old dogs; we know what to expect, and we understand what we can deliver through these environments.

New dogs, on the other hand, are similar to technologies we are developing. They are full of excitement, tricks, opportunities, and are a bit unpredictable. The bulk of our time is spent managing new dogs and teaching them to play nicely with other dogs. With new and exciting features comes the investment in time and knowledge.  We need to rely on the new environments enough to manage expectations and delivery models. We must manage the amount of change we undertake.
To accomplish even greater tricks, it might be necessary to create a new breed of dog. Technology trends (including social computing, mobile devices, open source, cloud and utility computing, software as a service [SaaS], Web 2.0, and virtualization) combine innovative ideas to deliver the right services and applications as simply as possible. Who knew that someone would come up with the idea to breed a Collie with a Lhasa Apso, creating a Collapso, the world’s first fold-up dog for easy transportation? With trends, there is always the risk that, as soon as the decision has been made to commit to a certain technology, a new breed will be even better. I believe the implementation of new technologies will require a culture of trust and communication.

As we teach our old dogs new technologies and carefully integrate new dogs and new breeds, we will all be helping each other achieve a mature, simple, and agile IT organization that is tightly coupled with business goals. Mixing old and new dogs requires experimentation and balance. We must hit our user’s expectations and maintain the integrity of the information we are sharing with the world.

Please share your thoughts and experiences in managing and balancing the change of technologies and platforms of your environments. What motivates you to stick with the old dog or make your own breed? If you lean towards making your own breed, how do you manage the impact that the change has on your employees? This is an exciting work to be a part of. We are so blessed to have this opportunity to connect with members across the world. I appreciate your input.

Aimee Smith is a core technology services process manager for the Church.


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