California Technology Hotel
The last thing I remember
I ran to the door
I had to find the way back to where I was before
“Relax,” said the man of the night
“We are programmed to receive
You can leave at any time
But you can never leave!
Welcome to Hotel California
Such a beautiful place… Such a beautiful place…..
This famous 1977 Eagles song has many interpretations – ranging from life in Los Angeles to drugs to the United States itself. I have a limited interpretation of the last lines as far as technology implementations go.
Technology is like Hotel California: it’s easy to check in, but impossible to get out. So choose wisely, take your time, ask tough questions, compare and seek advice from experts and practitioners. Corollary, if you are in a hurry to implement a technology, you will have to pay for it later.
The nature of Hotel California’s technology is responsible for creating and maintaining technical debt – an ancient technology that you are forced to keep running despite the best options available.
Let’s understand how and why Hotel California. Why is it almost impossible to change a technology that you have implemented?
Cost: Of the various cost elements, only 20-25% is the cost of technology, such as licenses, hardware, etc. and 80% is incurred during the implementation phase like training, deployment, configuration, coding, etc. throwing away one technology and adopting something else, the barriers to exit are very high because you have to bear 80% of the cost again.
Change management: There are various other challenges such as data migration, change management and reskilling your technology resources. Any technology implementation comes with change management challenges that you again need to overcome. Worse, this time the challenges would be more difficult as organizational cynicism would have crept in due to the first failure.
Technology/vendor/talent lock-in: Technology lock-in, vendor lock-in, and people lock-in are the other factors. The technology is integrated with several others. The inevitability of redoing all integrations and interdependencies creates technological lock-in. Your strategic relationships with suppliers can become a lock for you. Worse still, your team is now well trained and ready; just when you decide there is something better around.
Overcoming Hotel California’s technological challenges
Rigorous selection: Take your time and effort to benchmark, talk to experts, and talk to your fellow practitioners like CIOs at other companies.
Buy product roadmaps, not products: At no time will any product be perfect. Discuss the roadmap with the supplier, study their roadmap to establish your long-term alignment.
Think platforms and think long term: Always think long term to build platforms with reusable capabilities, not an application with a specific set of function points. This approach ensures long-term thinking, reusability, and keeping future options open.
Integration-focused POCs: You need to do POCs focusing on integrations with the rest of your architecture. The new tech should blend in well with your tech family.
Never choose a technology in haste. Take your time. Look around, check with your peers. Do POCs, get input from experts and other CIOs/tech leads. Keep future options open.
Every technology is like Hotel California – you can leave anytime, but you can never leave. So choose the one that suits your organization.
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The article was written by Jagdish Belwal, Founder and CEO, Jagdish Belwal Advisory