The evolution of IT technology is advancing at breakneck speed. This evolution not only keeps the IT department in a constant state of change, but also dramatically changes the way the overall business must adapt to stay competitive. IT technologies have rapidly morphed, including the way users consume them. Companies slow or hesitant to adapt will quickly fall from market leaders to laggards depending on how effectively they embrace digital transformation.
But how does a leader know if the company is leading or lagging, and if its IT is out of date? While there are numerous ways to evaluate, let’s focus on four primary levels.
When we talk about infrastructure, first thoughts typically go to the Cloud. Cloud in essence is a change of paradigm, not a technological change. Your company, in the past, purchased servers typically housed in your own data center where most IT solutions of the company were running. This model was based on periodic capital investments.
The maintenance might be done by internal or external teams, so depending on a company’s approach, there was often an operational expense to support the data center too. The challenge is data centers can become outdated quickly, and you must maintain ongoing hardware investments to maintain effectivity. If you haven’t already, an evaluation of completely moving to an operational model in the Cloud should be conducted. Oftentimes, this decision has already been forced with some amount of infrastructure required to transition to the could due to application, or other requirements.
You probably have a combination of commercial off the shelf (COTS) business and legacy applications as well as some developed ad-hoc for your business (bespoke applications). When we talk about COTS there are 2 signs your systems are outdated:
- The version you use is no longer supported by the vendor.
- There is no easy way to upgrade.
This situation, sooner or later, will trigger tough decisions that will require important, and potentially significant, investment. When we talk about bespoke applications, an important sign of obsolescence is when the technology used to develop your application is not used anymore in new applications and it is hard to find developers to maintain them.
The final point to mention here is licensing. Licensing models are moving more and more to SaaS (Software as a Service) where you pay for the whole package, including software and hosting. When reviewing your applications landscape, if most of the applications you have follow an old licensing model, this might mean you are not moving at the right pace and need to rethink your applications strategy.
In summary, applications versions, licensing models and technology used in your development will guide you on how outdated your applications ecosystem is.
With Mobility we refer to how employees or customers can interact with the company via mobile devices. This is typically the area of greatest obsolescence in companies. In the most common failing, it means your employees are not able to manage their work from their mobile devices. Or, that your customers aren’t able to access your website in a mobile friendly way and/or you don’t have applications designed for mobile use.
Consumer use of mobile has overtaken the use of desktops to access services, which means businesses must adapt instead of relying on laptop use as essential for everything. If mobile is not a core part of your IT strategy this means your IT has been outdated for a while already and you should define a strategy to catch up.
The last, but not least, indicator of outdated IT is Workplace IT. This addresses desktop PCs, laptops, mobile phones and workspace applications like email, telephony, video/audioconferencing, etc.
Let’s start with the devices. It is well understood you need a plan to renew your devices. For example, typically every three years for mobile phones, depending on your specific needs. You also need to have your existing devices up to date in terms of operating system to be able to run modern applications. Many devices are no longer compatible with updated operating systems after five years. If you do not have an update plan that you are following, it is a good sign of outdated workspace environment.
Other signs could include a hosted email system instead of a cloud one, use of old telephony devices instead of IP ones, or a lack of Wi-Fi in your work centers.
As a final recap, most signs of your IT being outdated are not related to the technology itself. The real change is the paradigm. In the past, IT was purely owned and controlled by the company. Data centers, applications and other devices were bought and replaced following strict rules.
Nowadays, for a non-IT company, IT is more and more a service reducing dramatically the level of ownership the company must manage. That can sometimes feel uncomfortable and be perceived as a loss of control. But it really means IT is managed by highly experienced and specialized companies so your company can focus on your own business and customers, surely much more exciting than IT itself.
Jorge Del Prado Lera is Head of Business Solutions Portfolio and Applications CSI for Getronics, a global information and communications technology service provider with nearly 9,000 employees in 23 countries across Europe, Asia Pacific, North and Latin America.