Corporate IT adoption visualized

As someone who's spent a bit of time working in corporate IT management, I had to laugh and wince at Simon Wardley spot-on chart of the enterprise IT adoption cycle. It's so sadly accurate, including the steepness of the curve between "Oh fuck" and full adoption (which is why so many vendors hammer away at IT departments with technologies that IT has already rejected).

Adoption cycles (via O'Reilly Radar)


  1. It should really have a ‘So last decade’ line, by which point Rest Of World is starting to decline, just at the point Enterprise IT is approaching 100%.

  2. The “Oh No” is the point where the CEO (or his kid) brings the very tech thru the door and demands it be hooked to the corporate network. The “Oh fuck” is when that is used as the leverage for a general office rollout.

  3. Do we at least get a “we told you so…” line somewhere on the chart, for when somebody’s fancy consumer schlock takes a dirt nap without any backups?

    “Your IT department: dour, beige, and conservative because the world is a horrible place and entropy always wins.”

    1. When you get large enough. I understand that when you reach Behemoth status your priority has to move from getting things accomplished to minimizing the damage your corporate drones can do because the rest of the company doesn’t bother to hire people they can trust.

      Our current IT department is great. It’s two people; they do what they do best, let us do what we do best, have some idea of what each of us is capable of, and mostly are not there just to cover their asses. I wanted to install an extra WiFi AP in an out of the way area recently, sent them mail asking if that’d be okay, they said sure – use this channel, use this name, point the auth here so it works with the other APs. I know in most places that might have resulted in my getting written up.

      I think it mostly goes back to can you trust your employees. If not, then IT will have to evolve into obstructionists out of self defense, since the primary commodity is blame.

    2. Or leaks the company dirty laundry into the public via some security hole, while the patch is held up in middle-man update “certification” hell.

  4. Cute.  A little smug, but still cute.   Maybe if we ask the rest-of-world users to comply with SOX, GLB, PCI, and all of their international equivalents we can finally get these curves to align.

    1. I’m guessing that the sun will be within a few kelvin of cosmic background temperature before that happens…

      Wake me up when you can usefully operate an ipad without a unique ITMS account for every single one(What, you want to bind an Apple client device to your Apple server’s opendirectory infrastructure and make the files on your AFS-based fileservers available to users of said device? Ha, ha, ha, how about you use dropbox or something?)

        1. Oooh, long, unpleasant, story there…

          You can buy all the redemption codes that your heart desires with a single VPP account. Y’know what you need to redeem those codes, though?(and, incidentally, why there are ‘codes’, like this is some ’90s shareware nonsense,  rather than some more civilized ability to assign purchased licenses to owned iDevices?) Yup, a different ITMS account.

          Even if you splash out for an MDM service, and do a push-install of a VPP purchased application, up comes the “enter itunes credentials” box. Oh, and you can’t push install in-app purchases(such as, minor nonissue for educational customers, all iBooks…) period. Full Stop. Just Not Possible.

          And did you want ‘iCloud’ to actually work for automagic backup and transfer of settings and data? Better have a unique apple ID associated… 

          And in case you had a situation in mind where a single iDevice contained some apps owned by the institution, and some by the user, you can forget about it, unless the institutional apps are in-house stuff signed and distributed by the entirely separate “Enterprise” application distribution process.

          Given their gigantic lead in tablet popularity, Apple obviously doesn’t have to care about institutional customers; but it is almost striking just how hard they don’t…

  5. The graphic would have to be significantly scaled down to show where the U.S. Government (DoD in particular, and Marine Corps specifically) catches up.  Of note, my squadron is getting new CPUs soon–they will be running Windows XP.  Luckily, BB is one of the few sites where Disqus works with IE7.

  6. Awesome.   I work in IT, and we’ve finally hit “Oh god Microsoft is going to stop patching XP in eighteen months.”  That’s the second part to that curve – we’ll finally get Windows 7 deployed throughout our enterprise just as Windows 8 comes out.

    1. Yeah, but you were planning to skip Windows 8 just like you skipped Vista right?  That appears to be the plan around here.

  7. In this thread: some very, very bitter IT people who resent any loss of control over their little fiefdom.

    1.  I don’t have a “fiefdom”. I’ve got a bunch of servers and desktops, gobs of responsibility and no budget.

      1. I’m a programmer, not a sysadmin, but I think a better analogy is that you’re tasked with defending the fiefdom. And by the end of the third quarter, you’re tasked with dropping longbows and moving to a 100% battering-ram force, because Fast Fiefdom magazine had an article comparing the amount of kinetic energy in an arrow vs a battering ram, and it sounds like battering rams are much better.

        To be fair, I’ve worked in places where the sysadmins were over their heads and paralyzed with fear, but even then it was because they were understaffed and ruled by capricious tyrants in a distant corporate office.

    2. Too true!  Since IT is basically magic, sysadmins have the power to make anything that we can vaguely imagine happening with technology a functioning, bug-free reality.
      The only reason they don’t do this is that they are all immature tyrants who enjoy lording their power over everyone else.
      Whenever they talk about “interoperability” or “security” or “stability” or “standards compliance”, you can just tune them out because those words don’t actually mean anything.  They’re just nerdy four-eyes speak for “I could, but I’d rather inconvenience you, nyah!”

      1. Actually this really isn’t true for the majority of sysadmins/IT managers, at least as far as I’ve experienced. We are charged with keeping a corporate network running efficiently and safely, and as others have already said- often on a shoestring. Running a corporate network is nothing like running your home network, yet everyone assumes it is just that easy. One or two iPhones, iPads, Android Whatever’s connecting to a corporate network may not be a big deal- but as soon as one does it- EVERYONE wants to. This kills your wireless infrastructure and creates a lot of security issues that, once-again, must be managed on a limited budget by people who are usually overworked to begin with. 

        Look at it this way- how would you feel if someone you don’t know walked into your home and plugged their computer into your network? Now- multiply that by 100, or 1000, or more than that?

        1.  uh-huh…..uh-huh….ok…..uh-huh…..ah…uh-huh…I see….
          So anyway, you can have the whole staff moved to iPads by thursday, right?  BusinessWeek says tablets are the future!  Oooh, and put “Angry Birds” on there, would you?  I love that game!

    3. “In this thread: some very, very bitter IT people who resent any loss of control over their little fiefdom.”

      Hey, how about a deal? I’ll accept any loss of control that comes with a commensurate reduction in responsibility…

      Unfortunately, the IT department just can’t get any takers for that one.

  8. Personally, I think technology adoption is only of relevance to the vendors flogging it and other parties with a vested interested. A much more relevant measure for any business would be the number of outstanding problems and challenges we need to solve some of which might be addressed by technology.

    Thus technology adoption or lack thereof is merely a symptom of other things at best.

  9. That is one seriously bad graph. All those dashed-line-separated columns should have been *rows*, right, since they represent stages of adoption that the two populations graphed are supposed to be entering at different times?  As it is, you have them as sections of the *time* axis, so if for example the left end of that axis is 2000 and the right end 2015, then in 2007 Enterprise IT was in the “No” stage while the Rest of the world was… also in the “No” stage??

    I hope I’m just reading it wrong, but when I try to figure out what that graph is saying all that happens is Edward Tufte’s voice appears in my head saying “bad! bad graph!”

    1. Wardley: ‘PPS. There are no dates for the time axis nor am I aware of how this might have changed over time nor is there any comparison between companies nor do I care if the axis are incorrect and no, there is no meaning to the use of dotted lines or the lack the figures or how the graph is incorrect because … ffs.’

  10. An IT department worth its salt should never, ever be among the first to jump on the bleeding edge of anything. Public adoption of, well, anything can just as easily be a soon-to-be-broken trend as anything.

    Most certainly, they should be aware of new tech and trends, and evaluate them as to appropriateness and effectiveness. But, it’s the wise CTO who keeps their mission-critical infrastructure a generation or two behind the curve, safe and secure.

    1. But, it’s the wise CTO who keeps their mission-critical infrastructure a generation or two behind the curve, safe and secure.

      As a non-IT guy, I can appreciate that argument, especially if you’re in a heavily-regulated or security conscious industries like healthcare, banking, aviation, or defense. I understand in some cases the IT department may not even have the freedom to upgrade until the government regulators get around to updating ‘approved technlogy lists’.

      Though, as a non-IT guy, I find our current environment (XP / Office 2003) is “old enough to be frustrating”, especially the pre-.docx office version. Hey, at least we have IE8 now!

      1. Ouch, IT didn’t spring for the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack (KB924074)? That seems like a strange decision.

        Office 2007 is pretty unexciting; but being able to read what it regurgitates is getting pretty non-optional these days…

  11. It’s worth noting that Greg Ferro of Packet Pushers fame posed a counter argument.

  12. Yeah. This. Here’s a little excerpt that I’ll just put into dramatic form. It’s a popular dialog between me (a hired-gun IT person) and any of the bosses of larger companies I work for.

    [Late Summer, 2012]

    Boss: Hey there. Thanks for getting us finished up on that two-year Windows 7 rollout and re-building all those workstations. It works great!

    Me: No problem. I know we went a touch over budget but you’re all set now, even those forgotten print servers down in Sector 7G and your kids’ netbooks. We went over because you had us go back and install the Games package on each machine. Spider Solitaire is indeed popular.

    Boss: Yeah, so. Anyway. I’ve been hearing all about Windows 8. Newsweek says its all the rage. 

    Me: Um. Windows 8 is the Devil’s Work. Oh, and you won’t be able to easily run AutoCAD or our information management system. So you really ought to stick with Windows 7 for now.

    Boss: That’s just fine. How about we save as much as we can in the budget for the next rollout. Perhaps Windows 9?

    Me: Fantastic. Money saved. So enjoy your newfound efficiency.

    Boss: Oh, but wait a minute. Won’t all those mobile device apparatchiks make fun of me with a snarky infographic on popular web culture blogs?

    Me: Certainly, but if you want to trade your newfound efficiency for $100,000 worth of untested gear to look better on that graph, then let’s hop to it. I’ll need half up front to start the ball rolling.

    Boss: Awesome!

  13. Wikipedia has a very similar looking graph for “the hype cycle”, except this one is missing the dip after the peak. Our company just invested in 2×144 SSDs for our production database, which was sort of shocking, but hey if IBM is backing the technology, it must be approaching maturity (also it’s twice as fast as our old system). 

  14. As the person responsible for new tech adoption at my company, I’m happy to let the early adopters discover the bugs, pitfalls, shortcomings, and headaches associated with new tech. I’m concerned with stability, security, and the continuity of business. New shiny things don’t impress me. Servers with multi year up-times do.
    Take a look at the IRCTC in India. The PRS developed in the 90’s using Fortran and C processes 1.2 million transaction a day and reported a 12 year up-time record. Meanwhile the new technology brought in by the IRCTC was only able to handle 300,000 transactions a day with only a 99.8% up-time. 
    It’s about priorities. Do you want the latest and greatest new thing for your business or do you want your business to work as expected. You won’t get both.

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