Technology migration refers to “the movement of customers from one (old) technological generation to another (new), with the intention of not returning to the old generation.” Attempting to trigger customers to migrate can cause severe migraines for managers who aim to successfully complete such a migration.

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Let's look for a minute at the position a Microsoft manager is in when he tries to migrate customers to the newest Windows generation. Here are some considerations he or she may make.

  • First, we do not want to upset customers even more (difficulty of migration, price, etc.) as we have several class action suits against us already, and our public image is not great. Instead, let's ask how we can help them.

  • Second, we are dependent for our revenue stream on migration, thus we go to hell if we do not convince customers to upgrade to a new generation.

  • Third, if we keep all these old versions alive, that will kill our efficiency in the source code (typically backward compatibility between generations leads to excessive amounts of code as one is built on top of the other). In addition, it will cost a bundle. So, should we kill support to older generations?

  • Fourth, how can we convince external application providers to also start programming for the new generation?

  • Finally—and this must be a truly scary feeling—“migration moves” can make a difference of multiple billion dollars for Microsoft, and Bill Gates himself is on top of your case.

Feel the migration migraines coming?

Now what are your options? What are the things you must consider when weighing those options?

Let's first concede that we are not going to completely solve all these very complex issues that Microsoft faces (or, that is to say, not without charging a hefty consulting fee). But we certainly can raise some initial issues to consider for people that are new to this game and offer some advice.

You have the following two options:

  • Kill or sustain old technology. You can kill or sustain the old generation technology and any position between these two (e.g., killing support to old generation or killing only sales). 

  • Offer migration assistance. You can assist customers in migration, through converters, support centers, and trade-in programs, or you can choose not to assist them.

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Allen Weiss is the CEO and founder of MarketingProfs. He's also a longtime marketing professor and mentor at the University of Southern California, where he leads Mindful USC, its mindfulness center.