This post is a little out of the ordinary.
Apologies for those readers outside the U.S. but there is a late night comedy review called Saturday Night Live here were various mostly TV stars serve as the guest host. The last two shows this season were hosted by Betty White and then the finale last night by Alec Baldwin. As I was watching each show and comparing the two performances an analogy popped into my head about how they relate to IT systems.
First, Betty White, the 88 and a half-year old television icon hosted for her first time on May 8th. Here performance an be seen on Hulu at http://www.hulu.com/watch/147989/saturday-night-live-betty-white#s-p1-so-i0
She had never hosted the show and only was invited after an unprecedented write-in campaign on Face Book. Her performance demonstrated why she had been an important element in some of the most groundbreaking television comedies of the last fifty years. Her timing is impeccable, comedic sense strong and very powerful. You saw this particularly at the end of her monologue to open the show. While the sketches were the usual selection of late adolescent humor, she stood out as bringing something special to each vignette. She was not a bolt on or spectacle.
Alec Baldwin, who has now hosted the show 15 times, tied with Steve Martin is a comedic/actor in his late prime. His performance was not as powerful as Betty White’s. Sure there is sentimentality for an 88+ year old woman going for her, but the sketches featuring Mr. Baldwin seems old and familiar as if they kept putting him in the same basic role but different situations. That is where the analogy popped into my head.
Its weird to connect two actors on a late night TV show with IT systems, but try this out.
We all have Betty White systems – classics that perform their function well, even if that function is a little limited and well established.
We all have Alec Baldwin systems – successful, expensive and ones we are need to get more out of, because we expect more from them.
We naturally accept some limitations of our Betty White systems, after all they were written before we were born or even our parents met. We can continue to get value out of those systems by keeping them well focused, positioned for where their flawless timing and functionality delivers exactly what we need and when we need it.
Unfortunately because these systems are ‘old’ we want to trade them in, combine them with other systems to create polyglot’s that could be likened to Alec Baldwin systems. Capable yes, but we try to use the same tools for different situations and expect different results. We are then surprised when these systems are complex to maintain, difficult to work with and do not seem to do everything as well as the one’s they replaced.
So why bring this up?
Well, as we continue to move forward with service based solutions, we have to recognize that everything that is old does not have to be discarded, upgraded or replaced. In fact, a few classic services can often make the difference between executing processes and delivering exceptional results.
That difference may seem subtle, but you can get the gist of it by watching a little late night television.