Are you a change agent or someone who doesn't like change? I usually accept and encourage change, but like many other people, I don't like the change to the map app on the iPhone. In fact, I refuse to use it. The older version of the map app was so much better (at least in my humble opinion). For instance, I find that the newer version is not as intuitive, the suggested locations not as precise and the suggested walking directions doesn't always give me the most direct route. Now I assume a business decision, rather than technology innovation drove these changes, but it reminded me of recent conversation with a CIO from a large retail enterprise.
The CIO reinforced the importance the organization places on the holiday shopping season, a critical period of high transaction volume. His organization is responsible for system availability, and for delivering the capacity required to ensure the transaction volumes can be executed. The company's financial future is totally dependent on this.
Like many other organizations, the CIO's company implements a change freeze on all systems during November and December to prevent any IT changes that could negatively affect business systems and revenue during this crucial two-month window.
This philosophy, shared by many enterprises at this time of year, is a real "hang over" from the past where systems where extremely fragile. I recall my time in operations 20 years ago when any minor change in systems at peak load periods could yield unintended effects. These drastic measures are routinely employed in companies that freeze all changes to ensure problem-free month-end or year-end processing. Even with this cadence in place, the user community expects updates to their iPad and Android apps. Based on the simulation testing that was undertaken, the organization anticipates little to no reduction in its store transaction volume but expects internet traffic to spike, greatly increasing the overall transaction load.
Having spent the last 12 months putting good change and configuration management processes in place, this year the retail organization is looking to change the number of systems covered under the annual freeze. The change management process now identifies critical and non-critical systems. As changes are moved to production, the configuration management system identifies if the change will impact critical "frozen" systems. The business can then determine if the change can proceed or should be held until the change freeze window expires.
Without this level of visibility, in the past, and without the ultimate business signoff, IT was always blamed when a change failed, unless it could prove its innocence, almost "guilty until proved innocent."
This year, with the business and IT collaborating, the objective is to increase business results while IT can continue to innovate.
It will be interesting to see the results!