Val tweeted this and I kind of took exception to it as no where in the linked marketing fluff does it actually say that NetApp enabled Guitar Hero to beat Rockband to market. But it lead me to thinking about something; can a change in technology really lead to this kind of advantage?
I don't think that the answer is all that clear cut, a change in technology can be the catalyst which enables a change in process; this can lead to an advantage. But is that change in technology actually necessary to enable to the change in process? And does the investment in new technology really pay off and how do you know?
Marketing fluff is not a good place to start in evaluating whether new technology will actually pay off for you.
No CIO is going to get up and say to his boss, 'You know that new technology that we bought, well it's a piece of crap! I was totally lead astray by the shiny-shiny lights and boy do I have egg on my face now!'
Equally no CIO is going to get up and say to his boss, 'That new technology that we bought well it's excellent and it has completely changed the way we work! But you know what, we didn't need to change the technology really, we could have just changed the way we work!'
So what happens is a jolly little cosey-up; a nice deal is cut, a bit of marketing fluff is sometimes agreed as exchange for a really great deal on price and everyone's happy.
Cynical? Yes very! Does it happen? Sure it does, all the time. Whenever I see a press-release or a case-study, I always ask myself what deal was done to enable this; free services, an extra couple of points of discount?
Sometimes, I think that we fail to see the wood for the trees in IT. If we want to institute major change; we change everything, whether we need to or not. How often do we see the tag-line 'This Changes Everything!'? How often does the question get asked whether everything needs to be changed as opposed to just changing something? As technologists, we look to change technology first and process second.
All the changes that Chuck et all are talking about, evangelising about are completely worthless without process change but many of the benefits can be felt with a process change. You do not need a technology change to achieve many of the benefits or if you do; it does not need to be a huge technology change.
Actually if you try to do this without a huge technology change; you may reap more benefits. The problem with large technology changes is that you often fail to do anything with the legacy tail; you simply deploy new stuff onto the new technology. The legacy just sits and moulders, costing money to maintain and manage. Of course you could simply just decide not to maintain the legacy, which will save you money in the short-term but when it breaks, you could find yourself spend even more money trying to fix a system which no-one really understands. If you try to change the process before rolling in the new technology, you will probably stand a greater chance of dealing with the legacy tail.
So don't expect miracles from a change in technology!
Without process change, technology changes are probably just cost!
People Trump Processes Trump Technology
Don't simply accept a vendor's claim that the only way to change your processes is to change to their technology!
When caught up in the new, don't forget the stuff your business runs on today!
Marketing folks even lie in their sleep, their dreams are the lies they plan to tell you tomorrow!