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Embrace the Change: Part 1

When deploying IBM Netezza technology, don’t just shift gears; change the playing field

Senior Principal Consultant, Brightlight Business Analytics, a division of Sirius Computer Solutions

The recent 2014 Winter Olympics brought to mind parallels between those games and analytics solutions. Of course, Olympians have to follow the standard rules. They cannot simply fly down the mountain as fast as possible. They have to stay within the lines. There is no room for innovation on the slopes. Jumping outside the lines means forfeiting the score. Some Olympic events are scored based on time. The athletes either beat the clock or they don’t. Those events are black and white, and any competitors unhappy with the result cannot say they were robbed. Other events are scored subjectively by judges. The athletes work their hearts out and wait for the scores to appear. And when they do, for some their jaws drop, and they can’t believe their eyes. They may feel as though they’ve been robbed. Very likely, vendors competing with IBM® PureData™ for Analytics powered by IBM Netezza® technology may experience a similar feeling after a proof of concept, but that’s a subject for another article. From one angle, the Netezza appliance can be considered a game-changing technology that has certainly transformed enough departments and organizations to handily win the title. From another angle, the game is underway, and we only think we’re playing it. So does Netezza technology embrace the game as it should be played? Or does it compel us to play it another way?

Unfettered by technology

The current technology may constrain us to play the game a certain way. No matter how much better, wiser, cooler, and so on we may think we’ve deployed technologies, we’re still only comparing ourselves to how others have deployed them. The game then is based on who can deploy the technology more effectively. Ultimately, the technology itself constrains us from doing more. Now, assume this artificial constraint is removed. Forget the box or thinking outside of whatever. We’re just thinking now. We know what we want but never had the power to get it. Like the unsung scientist who places his or her greatest ideas in a Rolodex because there’s no technology to realize them, we now have the power to get what we want, but no one has ever forged a path to it. The route is off-road from here. Dare we ruggedize ourselves and set off on the experience with reckless aplomb, or remain in the back office, attempting to shoehorn the old way into the new machine? Sure, we’ll get somewhere—maybe not where we want to be, but we’ll be somewhere. When people first encounter the machine and what it can do, this occurrence becomes a de facto standard by which all others will be measured. Even their hottest, smartest, slickest stuff will be placed side by side and found wanting. Netezza offers not just a way for people to change the game; it offers a change agent all on its own. It changes how people will address problems. Tactical approaches become patterned approaches. Widgets assemble into capabilities. Administration becomes so consistent and simple that we get spoiled. Then try walking after flying for a while. See how the caterpillars live. Not very pretty, is it? From people to process, infrastructure to policy, process to outcome, the machine touches each piece, stresses it, and compels us to make it better than it was. This sort of experience can be a strap-in-and-hold-your-hat acceleration, or it can be a sluggish, stumbling-into-success experience. The difference, in no uncertain terms, is whether or not we embrace the change. The change is upon us and is forcing our hand. We can respond passively or adaptively. We can grasp the reins and kick, or pull the reins and trot.

Adaptable to change

A primary factor between this trot-or-run existence is whether we intend to embrace the new physics of our existence. Or do we remain immersed in the theoretical, the protocol, the policy—the things that dovetail with or align to practically every other technology in the shop, except this one? Some may apply, but others have to adapt, and they have to do so quickly. Infrastructure is challenged with a machine that consumes everything like a cosmic singularity. Processes and policies we like, understand, and embrace suddenly lack something or seem to be in the way, when before they enabled us. Protocols for operation and deployment suddenly feel lethargic and painful, like wading through ice water. People spontaneously adapt, doing things they never did before because they never could before. Stress ensues. The game is afoot. Part 2 of this article dives into making artificial constraints much less daunting. In the meantime, please share any thoughts or questions in the comments. [followbutton username='enzeevoice' count='false' lang='en' theme='light']

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