One of the most common conversations I have with customers at events and in phone calls is on the “Everyone else is so far ahead of us” topic. It seems quite common for IT managers to want to believe that their peers in other organizations are doing wonderful, innovative things, with well-managed and thoughtfully designed infrastructures and policies in place. They apologize for the slow adoption of new technologies or lack of comprehensive plans or architectures.
The truth is that most organizations are messed up or behind to some extent; at least, they have some areas where they could perform better. That’s good for me as an analyst, because otherwise I wouldn’t have much to talk with them about, Analyzing and helping to apply best practices from other customers is one of the main things I do.
I often feel like a therapist, reassuring managers that there are good or even great things about what they are doing, and that most organizations really aren’t that much different from them. Some might be more aggressive, or have spent more time planning their projects, but, really, that’s OK. There can be good reasons to go more slowly. Many of the early adopters suffered expensive mistakes, as well as realized value. If those other guys are ahead in some areas, chances are that they are behind in others.
Of course, there are some companies I talk to who really are way behind, Strangely though, these usually aren’t the ones who lament about how good it is everywhere else. The ones who are strongly lagging usually have decided that’s the right thing to do, and get defensive when I suggest that there might be some value in moving a bit more quickly. The force of technology progress pulls most organizations along. Those who resist, have made a conscious decision to do so.
I also hear from some customers about how good they are, and how advanced their adoption and use of technology is. Sometimes they are obviously correct, but I usually try to speak with end users when I hear this from the IT people. They often tell a different story. The IT people who talk down their current accomplishments and are looking for ways to improve what they do in the future generally get better reviews from their end users.