Comment lines: The challenges of introducing new technology
Skill Level: Introductory Andre Tost (firstname.lastname@example.org) Senior Technical Staff Member IBM
06 Oct 2010 Technologies that are new to an organization present a number of issues simply because they are new. Such issues are rarely addressed properly or sufficiently, if at all. The lack of a formal process for introducing new technology into an IT environment is one of the biggest challenges faced by companies looking to leverage new products. Here is a look at how you can plan for introducing new technologies -including new software, new systems, new versions of existing software and systems, and more -- to ensure the proper technical teams and governance mechanisms are involved.
I have spent a significant amount of my time over the last several years on a series of projects across multiple industries in locations all over the world. The most important underlying theme during this time was (and still is) the introduction and promotion of the Service Oriented Architecture concept as a means of organizing functionality in a decoupled, dynamic, and business-aligned manner. For many organizations, this new concept can be rather disruptive in that it changes the way solutions are designed, implemented, and operated. Companies have to deal with new products and new patterns of solution design, new requirements towards the maintenance and operation of business solutions, and new opportunities for directly supporting the business needs in IT. However, most organizations try to address these challenges with their existing roles, responsibilities, and processes. In some cases, they realize too late that a more fundamental change is needed: a change of processes, organizations, and, yes, culture.
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In this article, I want to describe a common issue that I have come to identify as "the challenge of introducing new technology" and look at the best way an organization can deal with this challenge.
Why new technology?
This is a bit of a rhetorical question. Dealing with and leveraging new technology is a part of our lives in IT. In fact, the pace with which new technologies emerge is steadily increasing, and so companies that can leverage new technology quicker than others gain a competitive advantage and are able to deliver real business value faster. In the context of this discussion, "new technology" includes: • New software, specifically new commercial, off-the-shelf software products or new middleware products. • New systems, specifically new hardware platforms or new operating systems. • New major versions of existing software or hardware. • New significant functionality leveraged in an existing hardware or software product. Some of these new technology types are relevant simply because of time and related legal or contractual obligations; new versions of hardware or software must be introduced because vendor support might otherwise be dropped. New generations of hardware are interesting because of improved technical characteristics (for example, faster processors, less energy consumption, and so on). But sometimes new technology is triggered by emerging IT trends in general. For example: • The advent of service orientation is an example of such a trend, as something that went from being brand new and not very well documented or supported in actual products, to being today what I consider the state of the art of software architecture and development. IT organizations have had to react to this trend, with varying speeds of adoption. • Another trend (which happens to be something I deal with a lot) is business process management (BPM). As the name indicates, BPM calls for better management of processes -- for example, a higher degree of automation, shorter cycles, better monitoring of...
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