Keep It Simple Stupid!

I work in a world of tech! I love it! I am always looking at the newest ways to do things, make it quicker, more efficient and of course cheaper with the same amount of boom in the box. I love a bit of research and development, in fact without research and development we would not be where we’re at today. It’s those guys at the forefront doing the clever unimaginable things that make this world progress, for better, or for worse.

But saying that there needs to be a point where research and development stays just there. I’m not talking in the context of the whole world, more in the context of in day to day life because actually the effects of implementing the latest bit of R&D in your real world isn’t even necessary! I see this with apps all the time! Apps do my box in when they get upgraded, they always, and I mean always come with bugs. My latest IOS upgrade made my phone unusable until the patch came out. Why? Probably because someone got excited, checked it in and hit the button too quick to deploy it! Hell, okay first world problems… but still…

In my working life I’m the girl looking after proofs of concept. Exciting isn’t it? Well yes it definitely is, but there’s a responsibility placed on me to make sure what I recommend is for the good of the company and not just because I want a new toy. I am the queen of all things innovation when it comes to data, but actually when the foundations are not there to start with you can’t go pulling the crazy shit you see on the internet just because someone else did.

Today was an interesting day. I’ve been hired at a place that I really love working where there some improvements to be made but also some people who like to read all about the latest things that are going on in the tech world. And here’s where the problem lies. They read it, they play in the online sandbox, and then they want it, even though they don’t really know what it is. We get the technology fan boys too, you know the ones, they have the latest everything of their favourite brand, even though the other cheaper brand does it better.

What I often find is the implementations of new unknown technology can so often have been a hark back to that 5 year old in the shop that saw the toy and wanted it, even though they didn’t know what it was but everyone else said they had one so they wanted it too! What do you end up with? Well in my case luckily just a couple of virtual Machines, a couple of frightened developers and soon a white paper saying, it’s a bad idea right now.

So here’s what I look for when I’m picking a strategy for technology. First things first, what’s actually broken? A lot of the time it’s not broken, someone just got bored of it and wanted to make a new one. Nothing wrong with that, but is there something more broken that needs your attention, the answer is always yes.

Secondly, why are you looking at the new shiny thing? If you read about it on the internet and thought, well this could fix my problem, great, but now go back to the actual problem and think about it properly rather than build the thing because someone told you it’s the next silver bullet. So many times I’ve seen things get bought, contracts signed with no direction for what it’s actually going to improve.

Lastly, are you doing this because of ego? We love to show off, be the first or perhaps even the bigger boys have it and we want to be just like them. It’s easily done in the competitive world that is business and IT is an area that it happens the most! Very often the new thing requires new skills that people just don’t have and you’re sat with a bunch of guys trying to figure out how the hell to make this work.

Today we can automate our homes, I can make my phone tell the thing in my house to switch the other thing on to make the heating work. I can shout at the box that makes the online shopping store send me my stuff and change my TV channel. But what is the actual value? I’m not sure. When my car goes wrong I spend ages buggering about normally trying to do something to bypass the CPU because technology made my Landrover less efficient, okay out of the factory it drove like a dream but a confused CPU and you’re spending hundreds just fixing something simple! On the other hand my very mechanical motorbike can be striped down and put back together in just a few hours because the people who made it kept it simple. And here’s the message, simple is just better, we don’t make food with a million flavours, we don’t listen to music with all the notes in the chromatic scale playing all at once. And if we want our tech to work properly we have to start small and grow it over time carefully. The Big Bang approach will only have its casualties, normally my sanity.

Keep it simple stupid, is the best advice I ever had. You can write an algorithm that wipes your arse in theory, but actually it’s all theoretical and sometimes you’ve just got to stick with the tried and tested method and that is perfectly and absolutely okay… just relax…

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