As geeks, we get really used to doing things a certain way. We like a certain brand of firewall. We prefer certain configurations on our network switches. We do or don’t like users having local admin rights. This is no different from any other industry, job or career. If you’re a registered nurse, the hospital you work in has very specific methods of doing things. If you’re an electrician, there’s a building code you need to follow when running electrical wire. In may cases, the ‘rules’ and ‘methods’ are predefined and you have no influence or control over them. In some respects, this can be easier, as change is forced upon you and you don’t have a choice in the matter. Things get more complicated when that change is somewhat optional.
Take for example the company BlackBerry (formally Research In Motion). In the years around 2007, the BlackBerry device was the king of smartphones. EVERYONE had one. There was no competition and no one was even close to producing a product that could compete. Then something happened. Consumer users wanted more. E-mail alone wasn’t enough, the average home user wanted to play more games, have more social interaction applications, etc. BlackBerry then had a choice, either focus on their business and enterprise clients that their devices were primarily built and designed for, or change their business to accommodate the explosion in the consumer market. Quite honestly – they did neither very well. As a result, they lost a lot of net-worth and a lot of market-share. This is a classic example of not wanting to adapt to change. BlackBerry’s original business was built on the enterprise and business user. When consumers starting adopting their products, their business grew to something that became larger than what the enterprise and business segment of the market represented. As a result, the choice was either to ignore the consumer market completely and accept that their business was going to shrink (good luck selling that deal to public shareholders), or adapt and become the front-runner within the consumer market. In the end, what happened was a mixture of both, which wound up being highly unsuccessful. Only until now, with the new BlackBerry Passport and Classic models, is BlackBerry returning to its roots of business-class devices.
I’m actually going through this change right now. I’ll likely expand on this in future posts, but suffice it to say that I’m currently adapting to a change when it comes to UTM (Universal Threat Management) appliances. I’ve always gone with one particular brand because I liked the brand, liked the interface, and liked how it operated. As an MSP (Managed Service Provider), there are inherent advantages to having all my clients on the same general platform. For example, I only need to train my techs on that one platform, and because there is only that one platform, they are less likely to make mistakes. As of a few months ago, that particular brand has undergone some major changes. Changes that haven’t all been good. The reporting and logging structure of the UTM is much different and is not reporting as much as it used to, which is a problem for me as the MSP in charge of the security of my client’s networks. I now have a choice. I can be stubborn and ‘just live’ with this, which one could argue valid positive points for (no need to learn a new interface, new licensing structure, warranty structure, join their partner program, train staff again, etc). Or, I can adapt and look for a new alternative that better fills the needs of the networks my team and I administer. Does it suck to have to make a change ? You bet it does. But, in the end, it’s going to benefit my clients for the better.
We will always be faced with change, often times when we really don’t want to accept it. How we adapt to that change will ultimately define us as being relevant or not, or to steal a line from the movie Anti-Trust, a 1 or a 0.