Getting Ready For New Technology

By David Nudelman – Jan 2011 for Microsoft Learning

For those of us in Microsoft shops, the last 12 months were very exciting.: Windows 7, Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Exchange 2010, Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS), and many other products became available. Is your company—or your clients—ready for the new technology?

I’m a Senior Microsoft Consultant and I work for Ultima Business Solutions, focusing on new technology implementation and technology road mapping. Besides being an MVP, I also belong to Microsoft’s Springboard Series Technical Expert Panel (STEP).  I’d like to share my thoughts with you about tackling new technologies, and hear from you about your approaches and suggestions.

New technology imposes challenges to companies, and to IT managers who will need to solve them! It will require resources, training, and adoption evangelists. You need to identify within your company the people able to drive the new project forward, and empower them with training and adequate resources.

Step Back to Move Forward

The introduction of a new technology is an excellent time to take a step back and analyse what the company needs to achieve and if a specific technology is really the best solution to meet that need. This is a resource intensive task as you will need to involve people from different ranks and departments, but “stepping back” before you move forward is worth the time and effort.

Stepping back is hard! Most companies usually spend 70-80% “fighting fires” and only 20-30% on doing improvements and deploying new technologies. You will have to take some people away from fire fighting.  You may need to hire a contractor, or someone to join the team and lead the project, or an external consultant to train the team and help with the project.

New Technology Challenges and Solutions

Some time ago, a colleague and I were taking a course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) about developing and managing a successful technology and product strategy. We developed a graphical representation of the challenge of implementing new technology.

In my view, the reason why people are reluctant to change to a new technology is there are not enough complementary assets to a new technology. This lack makes support and management more difficult. Complementary assets are the combination of tools, resources, knowledgebase, supporting software and any other item or information that might make using that technology easier.

You can overcome the lack of assets by training and certifying your staff, and therefore increasing the amount of available assets within your company. New technologies create an opportunity to motivate people and introduce them to new challenges. Assigning new technology to the correct people will make the project a success. Providing them with training and certification will also boost their confidence and perception of the company and, going forward, you will have a more skilled team.

If a company has Windows XP and wants to move to Windows 7, it won’t happen overnight. To get started, we analyze the current state of their technology and where they want to be, without considering specific technologies.

Reviewing the existing network is obviously critical. We asked one client with 25,000 desktops how many applications were running. They said about 150. When we analyzed their network and did application discovery, it turn out they had about 700! Most were custom-built for small departments and many were incompatible with Windows 7. We needed to investigate other technology solutions, including virtualization.

After we review the available technology, we put together a proposal of best-case scenarios of the technology available.

For a Windows 7 and Office 2010 deployment, we use Microsoft’s Optimized Desktop Proof-of-concept Jumpstart (http://iwsolve.partners.extranet.microsoft.com/ddps/readiness_training.asp) to get customers up and running quickly. We also rely on the Springboard Series – Technical Proof of Concept for Joint Development of Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010. The Springboard Series (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/default.aspx) includes demos and tutorials.

Please add your comment below to tell us how you manage implementing new technologies.

This article was written in January 2011 for Microsoft Learning – Born to Learn website. The site has since been discontinued, so I am posting it here for future reference. – Guest blogger David Nudelman, IT Manager Advisory Council, discusses approaches to new technologies – Born to Learn – Site Root – Born to Learn (archive.org)

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