Preventing IT From Becoming a Procrustean Bed

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Preventing IT From Becoming a Procrustean Bed

Postby McDanielCA » Thu Dec 11, 2008 3:27 pm

Preventing IT From Becoming a Procrustean Bed was originally posted on the main page of LDS Tech. It was written by Kimberly Ishoy.


Procrustes was the ancient champion of enforced conformity. In Greek antiquity, he was a legendary highwayman who lived in Attica. He had an iron bed, which he regarded as the standard of length. Because it just fit him, he concluded that everyone should fit it. He stopped every traveler and tied him to the bed. If the person happened to be too short, Procrustes stretched him until he attained the correct length. If he happened to be too long, his legs were cut off until he met the proper requirement. Thus, everyone was made identical in size.

The iron bed on the highway of Attica has been supplanted by one on "the highway of information technology." It operates now in the field of technology, rather than in the physical realm. Every technology provider has its own bed, and all who would sojourn among them must be expanded or contracted, distended or diminished, enlarged or compressed, according to the product.

At the Church, we have been working to ensure that as we explore various technologies to further the work of spreading the gospel, we adapt to the preferences of those who will use a particular technology, and, in so doing, save the tithing funds of the Church.

As we have been working to update our 15-year-old phone systems to IP Telephony, each provider offered us a quote for its preferences for specific technology, or the technologies most popular among its customers. It is as if these modern Procrustean vendors have offered a one-size-fits-all product regardless of the varied work patterns of employees.

Instead of accepting proposals at face-value, we are taking the time to look at each user group to identify its specific needs and preferences. Some prefer to use a mobile phone, some prefer a “soft phone” (making telephone calls using a computer and a headset), and some prefer a traditional desktop phone. By going through the extra effort of identifying specific user groups and creating user profiles for phone usage, we have been able to meet the individual needs of each user while saving thousands of dollars.

Some lessons learned:

  • Employees don’t need expensive, proprietary handsets. We can select IP phones based on a broader set of unified communications needs.IP telephony is becoming more plug-and-play rather than proprietary.

  • Most employees with unified communications and a computer screen will not need expensive IP Phones with a screen.

  • Negotiate with providers for an enterprise-wide license for IP telephony instead of a per-phone contract, to reduce costs.

  • Before beginning any project that requires new equipment, identify different usage patterns of your target audience, and ensure that your solution meets the needs of differing working patterns and preferences.

Kimberly Ishoy is a senior product marketing manager for the Church.

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Postby marianomarini » Fri Dec 12, 2008 11:43 am

Well said. Why not apply the same approce to OS and programming?
I think this apply also to us as leaders. Too often we are thinking that Church (as an organisation) is more valuable than poeple.
Why Church's leaders manage IT in a way different as priesthood?
My english is not so good to explain better my point of view, but Genealogy is a good example.
Church require GEDECOM data. Everyone is free to choose his own program (I use GRAMPS for Linux) and all is working fine. I suppose this can be done even for MLS or other Church's software.
La vita è una lezione interminabile di umiltà (Anonimo).
Life is a endless lesson of humility (Anonimous).

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Postby tw.lbean » Sat Dec 13, 2008 5:12 am

Something that amazes me is the role church members have played in the invention and development of new technologies - such as radio, TV, and now telephony. I personally have the privilege of associating with the group who invented VoIP telephony - which includes several members of the church.

I constantly marvel at the hand of the Lord and his wisdom in carrying out his work today. New technologies come along more and more frequently that help the church expand its reach and appeal to both members of our church and members of other churches.

Another example is that just a few years ago, the fastest available internet connection was 56k dialup. Today high-speed broadband is available in many places (at least in the US). I personally have watched General Conference streaming live over the Internet the last 2 conferences. This is a miracle to me as a parent of young children! :)

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