The 8 toughest decisions IT leaders face

Making decisions is what technology leaders are paid to do. But some choices are harder than others.

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"Nokia was our first large enterprise customer, so I spent a lot of time with them, including time on site," he says. "I witnessed the technology leaders raising various forms of red flags, such as insanely long build times and mountains of architectural problems and technical debt. Yet the executives would not make the hard decision — that re-platforming was necessary in order to survive the launch of the iPhone, which they then knew was less than a year away. It was that indecision that I believe caused Nokia to fumble the future."

Instead of making the difficult choice to abandon its flagship OS and start over, the company tried to make Symbian touchscreen-friendly. The implementation was poor and the move was too little and too late, as iOS and Android had already begun to dominate the smartphone market.

Everyone knows the rest of the story. By early 2013, Nokia's market share had dwindled to just 3 percent. In September of that year its devices division was acquired by Microsoft for a fraction of its previous value.

20/20 hindsight: "In retrospect, I empathize with the business executives," says Kersten. "They wanted to make the right decision, but didn't understand the language of the technologists, and thus lacked a framework for deciding to re-platform. Thus Nokia died at the hands of indecision."

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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