Terence Gilbey, General Manager and CEO of Esalen Institute, hosted our January webinar and walked us around the big technology lift they went through in the last quarter of 2018.
How did they approach the challenge of shifting almost their entire technology suite stack away from a single custom written platform? Terry shared some of the high level approaches used and then as a group we explored detailed technologies during the Q&A.
Firstly, as a remote center Esalen has limited bandwidth. “Many of our systems were written before the internet really took hold,” said Terry. “They were designed to operate over a very low bandwidth that was on property servers which is not consistent with the environment that we see today with software as a service.”
As the internet evolved they continued to add to current systems rather than looking at replacing them. “Our core system was written in Filemaker Pro more than 15 years ago when software off the shelf didn’t really exist. All our eggs were in one basket. It required a full time database administrator and was extremely intensive to maintain. The system evolved over time and we struggled to respond to new business demands.”
What are the essential elements with any technology shift?
Build a case for change – it’s important to understand why you’re making the shift.
Define the rules of engagement – basic principles that will guide the technology transformation.
Follow the 80/20 rule – in essence, 20% of the system does 80% of the work.
Manage the fear of change – understanding the cultural piece is vital.
Take bold action – start to move and avoid trying to create the perfect solution.
It’s ok to make mistakes – as long as it becomes a learning experience.
Configuration over customization – custom solutions are expensive and time consuming.
Understand that you’re not special – each center is unique and standard business processes exist.
Start with low-hanging fruit – the system that has the least number of interaction points.
Provide training – support managers to help stage the transitions for each team.
To dive into the rich content of the call we invite you to watch the full webinar. Which systems did Esalen choose? What did they learn along the way? What are the benefits of such a shift? How can you apply these insights to your center?
If you haven’t signed up for HCN membership as yet you can do so here. You can then watch the recording of this webinar and join conversations live in the future.
Feedback from HCN Members
I’ve just had a chance to finally listen to this webinar and wanted to send huge thank you from here in the UK at West Lexham. We are in the process of changing a lot of systems and this has been exceedingly useful to help us on our way. Thank you!
Wow, Terry’s web presentation of 120 Days was so informative. One of the best yet … Sadly, I missed the live presentation but I’ve just devoured the recording and loved it. Thank you for continuing to organize such a rich series.
PS: I also discovered a bit of trivia, that I wasn’t aware of in the early ’90s when I was working at Esalen – I must have been involved in the early days of the Blackberry project! Although I was working in the kitchen, I also did data entry, assisting the tech team in entering data into FileMaker Pro. I departed Esalen in 1996, the year that Blackberry was launched. Now I’m working for the team that provided the replacement. The interconnected winding roads that we follow through life never cease to amaze me 🙂
Absolutely loved the webinar on Esalen’s shift in technology. Would like for our accounting manager to be able to watch it and have encouraged him to sign up for the free HCN membership!
Harbin Hot Springs
This blog is a continuation of the initial post