back to article Why Big Business is usually last to the party

Big businesses tend to be exceptionally risk averse. There's a general reluctance to adopt new, bleeding-edge technology because the priority – understandably – is to be able to maintain productivity. Small companies can live with the occasional glitch in systems – a couple of dozen people without email for a couple of hours …

  1. Gunboat Diplomat

    Agree in principle

    I agree with the article - large businesses can afford to do this, but they often won't. As core systems that underpin the business are seen purely as cost, with senior management not understanding/refusing to acknowledge that no system changes mean they can't do all those new things they want. Apparently revenue generation is a concept only applied to sales fleshware.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I also think there's a fear of Murphy: where in spite of all testing something goes wrong and then cascades unexpectedly; literally creating that trying to fix something that isn't broken leaves you worse off than you were to start with. Plus there's another potential adage: first can be worst, meaning being the trailblazer is a gamble in itself. You can come out on top by being the first to the goods. Or you can fall into a pit and just end up showing those that follow what not to do.

    1. Stork Silver badge

      - it is the second mouse that gets the cheese :-)

  3. martinusher Silver badge

    Its the power to say 'no'

    Big organizations are slow reacting because they consist of layers of hierarchy that all have veto power -- the power to say 'no'. Overcoming this to get the 'yes' requires either a lot of patient, time consuming, political work or some kind of person who's in a position to override lower decisions.

    1. Gunboat Diplomat

      Re: Its the power to say 'no'

      Yes - exactly this! Loads of people can say no, but they aren't expected/required to suggest a way to solve a problem/make it work.

  4. EarthDog

    No, small business also suffers

    a 10k USD or pound mistake can kill a small company. Or losing one big customer. So that is not really a valid argument, that there is less risk, when scaled for size it amounts to the same thing. What is valid, I think, is that small startups often do not have as much invested in legacy systems. The can safely adopt the shiney shiney new stuff since they do not have to worry about what happens if a large (to them) migration fails. Once you have critical data in a system migrating becomes risky and you *need* a good business case, regardless of size.

  5. Trigonoceps occipitalis


    " ... replacing something that works just fine ... "

    Morgan didn't listen to John Harvey Jones an look how that turned out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Morgan

      "Morgan didn't listen to John Harvey Jones an look how that turned out."

      JHJ didn't understand Morgan's business model, which was basically the Gillette one - you sell cars to profit on spares.

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "small startups often do not have as much invested in legacy systems."

    Legacy systems are those which runs the business that brings in the money. If startups are just burning money instead of making it it's no surprise they don't have legacy systems.

    There was an article a few weeks ago about Graze. Although relatively new it had started making money and all the new shiny that people had been working on not long ago were now "legacy" and they were looking at newer shiny to replace them. I don't think they were spinning it quite like that but that's how I read it.

    1. ShortLegs

      Do you have a link to that article?

  7. Ken 16 Silver badge

    How did they become large?

    I've been in a number of organisations which grew by merger and acquisition. That usually means they're focused on integrating the new and not refreshing the old. It may also mean the controlling part of the organisation is sweating the assets on it's subsidiaries. Sometimes that goes catastrophically wrong, say a bank has a few aging mainframe systems at it's core and minimises operating costs on them by finding cheaper and cheaper support options (looking right at you RBS) but quite often it just means a lack of flexibility and a veneer of new user interfaces around a stable but obsolete core, every one of which makes its it harder to change that core and every year passing takes those who know how to change it out of the skills pool. Once the problem is expensive enough, everyone may recognise it but the cost is really too high to bear "right now".

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