Cost pressure is a reality for many Technology departments around the world; often times, even the highest priority. How this is expected to be achieved is surprising. In general, my impression of IT tells me that it is still being taken for granted or a necessary evil. Which automatically leads to the fact that the majority of IT projects are what I’d like to call Life Cycle Projects.
As soon as Microsoft announced that Windows XP, after more than a decade, will no longer be supported, the media was chock-full of articles for weeks regarding this topic. Once again, we have the same situation, but this time it is effecting companies that still use SQL 2005, which is reaching the end of its supportability.
A decade in life seems more like a century in technology. Today, the biggest software vendors release new features on a monthly basis with some even on a weekly basis. Yet, it seems that companies repeatedly choose to use their current software till the end of days and not have to deal with the upgrades or to learn new products.
At the same time, we see more and more people that actually bet on innovation in technology and then disrupt industries where they have no prior experience, for example both Uber and AirBnB rattled the traditional car service and hospitality industry. The long-established businesses then try to legally fight the progression and innovation of these new comers and end up paying more in legal fees than the cost of developing that technology.
Of course it’s not always that dramatic as described here, but still I believe that the C-Suite out there needs a wakeup call to start thinking about how technology can give them an advantage in their fields and serve as a value differentiator. For instance, what will be the next big thing for the financial sector after e-banking? And for the airlines industry, what will be next beyond web or self-check-in?
In a quintessential Life Cycle project, we upgrade existing applications to stay supported. Mainly because of its dependencies and sometimes because it’s more secure. After the upgrade, no one is focusing on making adjustments to the workflow to leverage the innovation of the new application version. So then, we basically use the tools in the same order as we always have done, but never utilize the full potential it was designed to give us.
This scenario is real life and it is not made up. It’s appalling to see IT departments struggling with cost pressures while supporting and maintaining an environment where the technical innovation is stretched over a decade apart and through all levels of quality. And desperately trying to please the business with once more, on a limited budget.
To be fair, I have read the news articles that mention many CIOs are getting more money this year. More money can make real changes but it will not fix the real challenges in IT. What is really needed is a leadership that is willing to make a firm decision to decrease the complexity of the existing environments.
What are your thoughts about it? What are your experiences?