Tactical Advice

Practicing Change

Keep your staff prepared for change and you can take on any challenge.
This story appears in the September 2008 issue of BizTech Magazine.

Photo: Jensen Hande
Steve Evans, Chief Information Officer, PGA Tour

Ben Hogan was always ready for anything. He was the most practiced, logical and prepared golfer of his day. Hogan went to unheard-of lengths to be ready for change. At the 1953 British Open at Carnoustie he practiced for two weeks using the British-size 1.62-inch ball because he was sure it would play differently from the 1.68-inch ball he regularly used. He also walked the unfamiliar links in reverse — from green to tee — to give himself a better lay of the land.

Rivals sarcastically nicknamed him “The Surveyor” for his exhaustive preparations, but his efforts paid handsome dividends.

In 292 career PGA Tour events, Ben Hogan finished in the top three 47.6 percent of the time. He also placed in the top 10 in more than 82 percent of those matches.

Hogan was actually practicing change. And that’s a lesson not lost on the PGA Tour or the organization’s IT staff. We prepare for change every week.

Prep Work

Why prepare for change? As Ben Hogan did, we want to be the best we can be, and make it look simple while we’re at it. That’s not easy. And it’s only the thorough preparation of a dedicated IT staff willing to learn and deploy the latest technology that makes it possible.

As the game of golf has changed, so have the audience and the players. Both want more details, and they want them now. We make that possible. Just consider these statistics: We collect 10 data points per shot, including the speed of the club’s head, the ball’s spin rate and distance. On average, there are 32,000 strokes taken during a PGA Tour event. These 320,000 data points are dynamically distilled into 500 statistics. All of this information is immediately available to television and Internet audiences, and much of it, including scores and ball distances, is available to players, caddies and those in the gallery.

To ensure that we thoroughly and accurately collect the data and properly analyze it, we wipe our servers clean and reinstall our software every week. With technicians working on the road 210 days a year, the opportunity for unwelcome software changes finding their way onto the network servers is too great. If we’re not all working with the same versions, even small technology problems can land us in the rough. '

There are also business considerations. We have one of the world’s most recognizable brands, as do our sponsors. In 2008, we will present those brands to more than 500 million households in 209 countries outside the United States.

Like any other midsize enterprise, the PGA Tour cannot afford to make technology mistakes — including delaying new technology deployments — when business interests are on the line. So, it’s not uncommon to be six months deep into an 18-month technology road map when business units ask us to reprioritize projects.

Practicing Change

That’s where practicing change comes in. Each month we hold meetings with technical and nontechnical staff to address any problems that have come up or that are expected to come up. Network administrators in the field talk regularly with the network operations center via instant messaging, e-mail and voice communications. There’s also a weekly call to keep everyone on the same page. Software updates, which occur every week, are very systematic.

Such methodical approaches are particularly useful for a midsize company such as ours. We have a small onsite staff of 25, including 10 administrators running up to four events per week who face a steep learning curve with a lot of new technology. Because we practice change, when we do make a change, it works.

We can’t afford to be wrong. What we can afford to be is more like Ben Hogan. Perhaps your business could, too.

Steve Evans is the chief information officer for the PGA Tour.

Sign up for our e-newsletter

Security

Three Ways to Integrate Fire... |
Follow these tips to align the devices with log management and incident tracking systems.
Why Cloud Security Is More E... |
Cloud protection services enable companies to keep up with security threats while...
Securing the Internet of Thi... |
As excitement around the connected-device future grows, technology vendors seek ways to...

Storage

The New Backup Utility Proce... |
Just getting used to the Windows 8 workflow? Prepare for a change.
How to Perform Traditional W... |
With previous versions going unused, Microsoft radically reimagined the backup utility in...
5 Easy Ways to Build a Bette... |
While large enterprises have the resources of an entire IT department behind them, these...

Infrastructure Optimization

Why Cloud Security Is More E... |
Cloud protection services enable companies to keep up with security threats while...
Ensure Uptime Is in Your Dat... |
Power and cooling solutions support disaster recovery and create cost savings and...
The Value of Converged Infra... |
Improvements in security, management and efficiency are just a few of the benefits CI can...

Networking

Securing the Internet of Thi... |
As excitement around the connected-device future grows, technology vendors seek ways to...
How to Maximize WAN Bandwidt... |
Understand six common problems that plague wide area networks — and how to address them.
Linksys Makes a Comeback in... |
The networking vendor introduced several new Smart Switch products at Interop this week.

Mobile & Wireless

Now that Office for iPad Is... |
After waiting awhile for Microsoft’s productivity suite to arrive, professionals who use...
Visualization Can Help Busin... |
Companies need to put their data in formats that make it consumable anytime, anywhere.
Linksys Makes a Comeback in... |
The networking vendor introduced several new Smart Switch products at Interop this week.

Hardware & Software

New Challenges in Software M... |
IT trends such as cloud, virtualization and BYOD pose serious hurdles for software...
Visualization Can Help Busin... |
Companies need to put their data in formats that make it consumable anytime, anywhere.
The Tools That Power Busines... |
Ever-evolving analytic software can greatly improve financial institutions’ decision-...