Are you losing the competitive advantage due to ‘Technology Debt’?

Technology Debt - The Cost of No Change

Technology Debt is defined as the massive amount of dollars found in legacy hardware, software, other IT assets, inefficiencies in processes, and the pains and dollars wasted on legacy architectures being supported day to day just to keep the organization alive.

The result is a constant squandering of overall finances strained on the organization barely keeping itself above water with all the legacy assets, processes, and people pulling the organization downward.  This undoubtedly leads to the lack of innovation and thereby forfeits the businesses ability to maintain a competitive advantage.

What's to be done to avoid it?

Embrace Life Cycle Management (LCM).  This is the process of first understanding that every technology has a life span; A duration of selection, implementation, adoption, utilization, enhancements, maintenance and upgrades, and then the inevitable sun-setting or replacement.   

The easiest scenario to understand the LCM concept is to understand the evolution of a car purchased for your home. 

  1. The need for the new car arises.
  2. Multiple makes and models are researched to meet the need.
  3. Multiple vendors (aka Dealerships) are reviewed before settling on the ideal match.
  4. The particulars of the deal and vehicle specifics are selected and purchased (Sun roof, spare tire, leather seats, etc.)
  5. The car is then put into use and enjoyed immensely by all who ride within.
  6. Years go by...  Maintenance is performed to keep it in top operating condition.  Maybe even some upgrades were performed to things such as; speakers, performance spark plugs, performance brakes, better than factory tires, etc.
  7. Finally, after many miles, maybe a few dents, and tons of use and weather, the vehicle begins to experience difficulties.

At this point it's obvious that the vehicle is in need of one of two things; 

  • Upgrade all major components - This will keep the vehicle running and performing its functions.  However, this option doesn't take into consideration the advancements in technology and options that could make a ride more comfortable, quieter, gas or electric efficient, or safer.
  • Purchase a new vehicle - This option allows the owner to take advantage of technology advancements in safety, security, cost and product advancements, and even in amenities that they may not have realized such as an automated sunroof vs the hand crank one in the current model.

Each of these options come with risk, financials, and positive and negative aspects to be considered.   

Embracing Technology Life Cycle Management (LCM) is imperative for organizations to keep a competitive edge.  Understanding where in the life cycle each application, infrastructure, process, etc. is can help an organization make better decisions during yearly budget planning.   Doing so ensures no large "surprises" to the leadership on what can be done to maintain the competitive capabilities of technology life cycle management.