This Charming Man…?

April 13, 2010

Google Tablet Here Soon? Bleeding edge, or Open Wound?

Filed under: ipad — ihaventgotastitchtowear @ 3:23 pm

Wired is predicting the imminent launch of the Google Android Tablet. Apart from why Google has gone with Android, and not Chrome OS, we in education are looking at a sticky few months. Especially those of us who are at the bleeding edge of innovation, this sudden appearance of HP Slate using Windows, iPad using MacOS for iPhone (and to complicate it even more, soon to be iPhone OS 4.0/iPad OS 2.0), and Google’s Tablet using, we think, Android, is all a bit tricky.

Bleeding edge or death by a thousand cuts?

Institution’s love the number one. One Learning Management System, one financial system, one HR system. The problem is is that doesn’t really work in the arena of teaching and learning. Teaching and learning, in the broadest terms including knowledge management and libraries should be innovative. The issues comes though when IT has to support this bleeding edge technology, or like the current slate avalanche has to make quick, too quick, business decisions on the way forward.

The comfort zone between the sand pit and the production environment is getting smaller and smaller, if organisations of any type want to get, or retain competitive advantage.You can find yourself in the crazy situation of implementing a complex enterprise solution, that at the time of planning was a spiffy, shiny, and all together marvelous piece of technology, and half way through the implementation a new infrastructure, application layer and API set storm through the project. Sadly, or realistically I can think of 5 or so projects I know of in this category.

So what’s the solution? Flexibility, Open Standards and Architecture.

Flexibility is that human thing. A lot of people in teaching and learning, research, business units and IT like innovation. Really, seriously and fundamentally see it a good thing. But innovation isn’t a hobby, something that you do on top of your day job. Innovation needs to be part of the job, and innovation isn’t sitting around waiting for the muse to start whispering in your ear. Oh no. A bit of hard graft is needed. But innovation does need people to be charged with the delicate handling that is needed to make it happen. The business needs to be realistic about budget, time, effort  and evaluation and IT needs to be flexible in terms of listening to what the business needs. Innovation can actually be planned, however loosely.

Open Standards. If it’s a black box solution, forget it. I don’t mean be a Open Source evangelist, I mean ensure that the solution will work with everything else, and doesn’t involve bringing in the vendor and paying them $1 million.

Architecture. The institution’s IT infrastructure should align to the business needs and strategies of the organisation. Complete no brainer. But ask yourself, ‘does this happen in your organisation?’. Very few people can hand on hard say yes. If you work for an organisation that as part of its strategic plan sees itself as innovative ask what IT is doing to create an architecture where for example it doesn’t matter if I use the HP Slate, iPad, or Google tablet.

Underlying this is agility. If you’re you’re going to spend $5million on a new Learning Management System there should be organic patches to the project, where what’s happening now can be integrated into the what we originally planned to do. Do that and you’ll end up with the thing that you want today, and not with the thing you wanted yesterday.

Ultimately it comes back to breaking down the silos between organisational units, building innovation into peoples roles, planning for innovation and getting on with it. Do this and you should pretty much cope with what technology throws at you, and you can balance on the bleeding edge without cutting off a limb.


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