It is said that once you get used to something it is quite difficult to change … and when it comes to computing and mobile phones the theory definitely holds water.
For those that started with early personal computers WordStar was the choice for word processing and VisiCalc for spreadsheets.
They are long gone but it wasn’t until they were no longer supported that users involuntarily made the switch.
It was the same with PC brands – Apple vs. IBM, and even more prevalent with mobile phones.
Nokia users, in particular, got used to the menus and would simply upgrade with each new model rather than risk changing brands.
BlackBerry users were the same but mainly because of their addiction to getting email anywhere.
Enterprises used to be very loyal to a limited number of suppliers as well.
Early computing requirements were left in the trusted hands of big companies like IBM, Digital, Tandem, Burroughs, NCR and Bull to name a few.
Not many of those names are left these days, but in their prime they were one-stop shops for hardware, software and systems integration.
Loyalties were forged on dependence and ‘safety’ rather than love.
Telecoms operators started on the same route, what they didn’t invent themselves they acquired from big switched-networked suppliers like Ericsson, Siemens, Nokia and Lucent Technologies and more recently to the Chinese TEPs.
Sticking to the one make was thought to be a guarantee of service continuity and that loyalty would be rewarded with the commercial advantage of early adoption of the latest and greatest technology.
Of course, there were also the terms of financing being offered that had a lot to do with maintaining loyalty.
Yet, despite the promise of safety in loyalty, single supplier strategies often failed to live up to their hype.
Suppliers got into the habit of releasing versions of software on kit that was not compatible with previous systems.
Some suppliers were leading edge in some areas and woefully behind in others.
This led to the concept of ‘best of breed’ purchases and the growth of specialist systems integrators that had no allegiances to any brand but were happy to implement and integrate those ‘best of breed’ options.
Even this model has come under pressure in recent times and as industries try to standardize interfaces and we move to all-IP networks the process of integrating new systems is becoming less complex and with the promise of cloud, SDN and NFV, will radically alter the way telcos and enterprises operate.
Fragmentation is the best way to describe what led to this, and it is a lesson that was learnt many years back by supply chains that adopted ERP, but something that still needs to be learnt by other sectors.
Handset loyalties moved from single brand to single operating systems, especially Apple vs. Android, but even that simple choice model is being challenged by upstarts like Firefox OS and even Windows Phone.
The fragmentation of the Android ecosystem, in particular, is achieving exactly what it set out not to do.
According to a study by OpenSignal, there were 11,868 distinct Android devices as of July 2013, compared with 3,997 distinct devices in 2012.
There were eight versions of the Android operating system in use as of July 2013.
Confusion reigns and customers, annoyed that apps are not using common Android features are voting with their feet (and wallets) and moving to platforms that look, feel and operate consistently.
But we don’t live in a perfect world and there will always be something that does not conform to a standard.
That is the key element of disruptive technology.
However, it is how quick enterprise and consumers adopt, and how well operations deliver the results that are promised that count.
In the meantime, some form of over-arching Enterprise Business Assurance monitoring will go a long way in reducing risks, ensuring the customer experience and saving costs.
If you look back to the start, it should be easy to now surmise how loyalty leads to disruption.