My colleague from twenty years ago (!) Tony Wong, now in Sydney, makes a great point in our chat today.

When we worked together at Edexcel (now Pearsons Education) we could bring a new idea to fruition in a matter of days, if not hours. We could use it straight away. With the feedback, we developed the idea further. Soon we had a working process that magically removed the limitations of what was there before.

Tony reminded me how easily we could do this, even twenty years ago. IT took months to even get started; with budgets to get, people to hire and so on.

I also remember the interim head of IT saying ‘ok, Excel is fine for prototyping’. He left out the ‘but’, but the ‘but’ was obviously there, but unsaid.

The point is, there are two points.

  • IT could not even get started, just to try out the idea. Too many hoops!
  • When our Excel driven solution became a ‘key corporate process’ IT were unable (or unwilling) to take the idea and make it an ‘IT supported process’. Perhaps even with more expensive technologies.

This pattern repeated in a few other clients.

Some even took it over, and shut it down!

I’m reminded of what one of the IT guys said.

‘Hiran, you’re picking the low-hanging fruit’.

That’s the whole point! There sooooo much that can be created by making a few small adjustments. Something like Excel makes it possible, with it’s availability, easy programmability, connectivity, and some imagination, and the freedom to innovate.

Hiran de Silva

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