Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Windows 8 upgrade dilemma


I see a lot (and I mean a lot) of angst about upgrading to Windows 8. Some even take it as a personal affront that Microsoft has personally targeted them and made their next PC upgrade experience poor. What really amazes me the most is the total lack of logic and pragmatism when it comes to any upgrade these days. Technology is developed by humans, therefore it is never ‘prefect’. Adapt and deal with it. Look for the positive rather than dwelling on the negatives all the time. Further than that, I would suggest that I have never seen more self-absorbance from all sides in this debate.
So let’s get one thing straight right up front. Technology changes. We went from DOS to Windows 95 and the world didn’t end. We went from Windows 2000 to Windows XP and the world didn’t end. An so on and so on. The big difference now is because technology is so ingrained in society, changes affect so many more people. The other major difference is the voracious appetite of the media in the quest for eyeballs. Bad news attracts a lot more readers than good news now doesn’t it? Sensationalism and emotion are the aim these days with the media. Why? It is not about necessarily reporting fact, it is about getting eyeballs for the advertising dollar. Thus, poetic license and exaggeration have become the accepted tools to enamour this, with none more prevalent than in the technology industry.
This approach by the media places many technology companies, like Microsoft, constantly under siege. This directly impacts the way they conduct business and how they deal with external parties. They need to work harder to overcome the exaggerations and innuendos that are so much part of the media reporting we see every day. Unfortunately, dealing with this simply reinforces the initial media portrayals and the whole thing becomes a non stop downward spiral where everyone loses out.
So let’s return to the Windows 8 upgrade question and some of my own personal experience with a family member who I upgraded from a Windows XP to Windows 8 machine recently. Prior to the upgrade there was significant trepidation by the user about moving to Windows 8 simple because of the ‘perceived’ issues. Now a few months after the upgrade what is the result? A very positive and happy end user. How was this achieved? What was the magic formula? In a word – training.
Once the new Windows 8 machine arrived and was set up I spent not more than 10 minutes showing the user how to do their old stuff and some of the great new features. That gave them the confidence to at least start using the device. When I returned a few days later to resolve any further issues I found that the user had already downloaded a number of games from the Windows 8 store and was happy playing them, all by themselves.
Sure, there are still a few issues and frustrations now and then, but that happens with ANY technology. The main point is that by providing some initial training at the commencement the user had the confidence to at least start.
This to me is what is missing with technology these days. Training! Too many suppliers, resellers, providers, bosses, employers, organizations simply EXPECT their users to know all this new stuff. The assumption is that they use technology everyday themselves so why should the business waste time and money on training? Wrong, wrong and wrong. If a user is afraid or unsure about using something, they won’t. As they struggle they will become more and more frustrated and blame the technology rather than their lack of knowledge. This then reinforces all the ‘negative’ things they have heard from other untrained users.
As I said earlier, technology is about change. Thus, if you use technology you also need to change. This means you need training. Whether you do that yourself freely from Internet resources or pay, it doesn’t matter. If you use technology you need to have constant training because things never stay the same.
Most people don’t need hours and hours of intense deep dive training they simply need a bridge between what they already know and what is offered by the new technology. Some people are happy to develop this bridge themselves, most need assistance but look around, where do the majority of people get this bridge from? It is generally never provided so they struggle and without such a technology bridge they will never traverse to understand the new technology.
In summary, I would say – technology is about change, get used to it. Companies that sell technology are businesses, they are in this to make money and they need to be looking 3 – 5 years down the track to provide return for their shareholders. What might seem bad today can morph into the fantastic down the track. To improve technology adoption there needs to be better and easier training provided. Most importantly businesses and individuals need to be WILLING to invest (time and money) in training to make the most of what technology provides. They need to willing to be constantly making this investment in training, because you know what? Technology waits for no person!