Shooting Where the Rabbit Was

"It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be." - Isaac Asimov

Early on in my career, when making a strategic decision on a technology or in creating a technology strategy, we would consider the tradeoffs, constraints, expected future changes, and business objectives, then arrive at decision with the business. After 3 years the decision often looked ridiculous. By ridiculous, I mean the advances in technology, pricing, and the change in available options, invalidated many of the assumptions that went into the original decision.  

I have noticed that many evaluations of technology options are static in nature, and fail to account for the dynamic changes that are almost certain to occur within the timeframe of the analysis.

So why is this a problem? It's a problem because we are in the 6 Months to stupid world, we don't have 3 years in many cases. Example: A vendor tells you that you can save 50% on public cloud by moving to an onPrem private cloud. Dig in a bit deeper, and you find that the estimated costs associated with the cloud provider are unchanging for the lifespan of onPrem alternative. 

It is possible that cloud providers will not lower prices, in the sense that it is possible to survive a fall from the 30th floor. The dilemma is that just about any technology asset has at least a 3 year life span. While the pace of change in the past made this a somewhat acceptable time horizon,  making a wise 3 year decision in the current environment is increasingly risky. 

Technology costs are going down due to competition, technology upgrades, new pricing models, and disruptive solutions. So make sure your analysis includes dynamic assumptions on pricing and available options. If I could predict specific innovations that will be coming within the next three years, I would be working at a hedge fund instead of opining on Linkedin. However, it is almost a sure thing that if you are making a 3 year decision, it better have a 6 month ROI.

What further compounds the problem is that IT organizations have a major conflict of interest in determining the "best" path forward from a business perspective. Having IT evaluate cloud options is tricky because the technology vendors' business model and the IT workforce are exactly what is being disrupted. So if the question is; "Should we host these applications and data in the cloud or refresh our infrastructure?" A static analysis of the alternatives will help those resistant to change show that staying with a legacy approach is less expensive, and have the added benefit for them of not disrupting their career. Of course this is not necessarily a business benefit. 

Business leaders need to remain engaged with their technology executive and understand the tradeoffs involved in major technology decisions and strategy. The business should be drawing the line in the risk/cost tradeoff, not just the technology leader. You don't have to be a technologist to understand the tradeoffs involved, 0r know that the technology game is changing rapidly.  If the only tradeoff you are typically discussing with IT is "sign this PO, or bad things will happen," you need to get a second opinion. Otherwise you might just be shooting where the rabbit was.