Life on the Ocean Wave – a song for IT leaders

Ocean horizon

In business, people are always talking about keeping up with landscapes: Your competitive landscape. The landscape of ever-changing technologies. The global business landscape.

By definition, a landscape is “all the visible features of an area of countryside or land.” Basically, a landscape is static and only appears to change as you make progress. However, that is not the case with any of these areas listed above. They are constantly changing whether those involved want to stand still or not.

I’d say that it’s time to retire the word “landscape” from all of these definitions and insert a much more accurate word:

Seascape.

Think about that for a second. Your competitive seascape. The seascape of ever-changing technologies. The global business seascape. It definitely evokes a different mental image.

If you are an IT leader, think of yourself as steering a ship on the ocean waves. You have to quickly adapt to changing conditions. You have to decide whether to change course, lighten your load or drop anchor and ride out the storm. As the famous poem-turned song “Life on the Ocean Wave” by Epes Sargent goes:

“A life on the ocean wave! A home on the rolling deep!

Where the scattered waters rave and the winds their revels keep!”

Now THAT more accurately describes what life is like for IT leaders today. Rather than puttering along on dry land, observing changes on a distant landscape, they have to deal with waves of change under their feet, stay nimble, make instant decisions and keep their organizations afloat.

One of the biggest decisions that IT leaders have to make is evaluating and purchasing software for their enterprises. All software purchases are driven by change. Something must be changing in the tide, otherwise there would be no need to adapt. IT leaders must also consider the inevitability that things will continue to change after the software has been implemented.

After every wave, there’s always another one. That’s why the salty dogs never turn their backs on the ocean.

So how do IT leaders avoid feeling positively sea sick? According to this scientific article, to stay stable at sea, the best thing to do is to look to the horizon. By looking ahead and anticipate future changes, IT leaders can chart a much better course through the turbulent seas of software purchases.

Let’s take a look at some of the waves we know will never stop rolling our way:

The wave of changing technology

At the crest of the technology wave are innovations. Consider how technologies like cloud, mobile and data analytics have opened amazing opportunities for your organization today.

When evaluating a potential software purchase, ask the vendor to demonstrate its track record for incorporating the latest (relevant) technology innovations into its products. A vendor who can prove that it is riding the waves of innovation will give you confidence that it will help you ride out future technology waves that aren’t even yet on the horizon.

At the trough of the technology wave are the “necessary” changes to technology – operating systems, browser versions and the ability to remain compatible with other widely used products (such as Microsoft Office and Outlook). Ask the vendor about its past and future software release schedule. A vendor that has a track record of regular software releases will give you the confidence that its products stay up-to-date with these changes without weighing down your ability to upgrade your environment.

The wave of evolving user requirements

Every software purchase requires a definition of the user requirements. Even if the product you are considering today checks all the boxes, you have to consider that changes will come in the future.

Ask the vendor what it will take to make changes to this product WHEN your user requirements change. Changing user requirements can range from adding additional users to requests for new functionality. Understanding how much capability you will have to make changes yourself, without either relying on developers or the vendor itself, will help you understand how nimbly you can ride this wave.

The wave of changes in your industry

The tides of industry regulations and compliance requirements can change quickly. Ask the vendor how much experience it has in YOUR industry. If your vendor is in unchartered seas working with a company like yours, you may end up lost at sea.

Conversely, when the vendor has helped other organizations navigate industry-specific pressures of compliance and regulation in the past, you can be confident that they will guide you to safety in the future.

The questions listed here are especially important to consider when evaluating software to manage your enterprise information. If the information which is driving your organization is managed by a system with little track record of technology innovation, minimal experience in your industry and an inability to easily make changes, it can become excess tonnage, weighing down your potential for success.

OnBase is an enterprise information platform that has an excellent track record of helping organizations of all sizes, in hugely diverse industries all across the globe, ride the waves of change. You can learn about some of the new enhancements in the recent OnBase 16 release here.

Yes, IT leaders can learn a lot from the song “Life on the Ocean Wave.” A close examination of the lyrics from this famous song reveal not a fear of a stormy sea, but a desire to be right in the middle of it!

“Like an eagle caged I pine, on this dull unchanging shore.

Oh give me the flashing brine! The spray and the tempest roar!”

 So let’s stop talking about landscapes and start embracing the seascape of change like Epes Sargent. With the right tools and the right technology partner, you’ll soon be echoing his famous words:

The land is no longer in view, the clouds have begun to frown

But with a stout vessel and crew we’ll say let the storm come down!”

Glenn Gibson

Glenn Gibson

Glenn Gibson is the director of Product and Solution Marketing at Hyland, creator of OnBase. With 15 years working in the IT industry, he’s collected several certifications over the years as a VMware Certified Professional, Citrix Certified Administrator and Microsoft Certified Professional. As a self-proclaimed “presentation junkie”, he is very passionate about everything that goes along with public speaking, and has picked up a few awards along the way too. A native of Scotland, his passions outside of work include all things Scottish; kilts, bagpipes, whisky, (real) football and is often heard beating a drum or two in his spare time.

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