Keep moving targets in your radar

Moving is never painless, but it shouldn't be management suicide if you plan from the outset
Written by Leader , Contributor

We're moving. Over the Easter weekend, ZDNet UK and the rest of the CNET Networks UK family are upping sticks, leaving our Tower Bridge home of the last decade and decamping to sparkling new custom-designed offices just a little way up the Thames. The atmosphere at ZD Towers is a little like the last episode of MASH, and in the vocabulary of that Korean-war comedy, we're bugging out.

Any move is a mixture of trauma and excitement. For us, it underlines the huge changes in the industry: our new offices are also TV and radio studios, and Karen Friar, our sparkling new Community Editor, sits alongside reviews, news and production. We're leaving a lot of our monthly magazine heritage behind for a future as a shape-changer. But some things haven't changed: the process of moving has meant enormous amounts of planning — and plenty of pain — for our IT department. It's fair to say that we're feeling the gap between what technology promises in Powerpoint and how it actually works in practice.

That's a sobering reminder of how far the industry has to go. As individuals, we're used to taking our computers and mobile phones around the world, logging on in seconds from hotel room, home or show hall and operating at full efficiency without a second thought. Nothing could be further than the corporate experience of sorting out the wired infrastructure, the kitchen-sink dramas of dealing with vendors, the endless details of carrying over the legacies of fax machines and phone numbers. And all the time, continuing to function as a company.

It's easy to see the experience as a bullet to be bitten, a necessary agony to be gone through for essential renewal. That's wrong: as an industry, we can do better. Vendors are constantly selling us on the benefits of flexibility, efficiency and interoperability. They're right — and they're not delivering. It's not just an issue for relocation: the same problems confront any company that's growing, divesting, merging or changing, all the things that are essential in the modern business environment.

MASH units solve the problem by training and drills, practice moves that shake down the systems and reveal the weaknesses before they really matter. Thankfully, that's no option for the enterprise. But we can plan from the outset, asking ourselves and our vendors before installation what would happen with a system when the time comes to change. Demanding flexibility from the beginning means more options all the way. That's an idea to move anybody.


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