The evolution of IT 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But how does a leader know if the company is leading or lagging and if its IT is out of date? Although there are numerous ways to evaluate, let’s focus on four primary levels:
- Workplace IT
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 teams or external; 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 The challenge is data centers can become outdated quickly, and you must maintain ongoing hardware investments to maintain effectivity.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, conduct an evaluation for completely moving to an operational model in the Cloud. Keeping a data center on your company’s premises is a clear sign of outdated IT. Not using the Cloud at all is another one.
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 When we talk about COTS there are two signs your systems are outdated:
- The version you use is no longer supported by the vendor.
- There is no easy way to upgrade version because you haven’t upgraded for too long.
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; therefore, businesses must adapt instead of relying on laptop use as essential for everything.
If mobile is not a core part of your IT strategy, 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 to highlight 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.
Another clear sign is if you still have a hosted email system instead of a cloud one or if you still use old telephony devices instead of IP ones. That is assuming you have Wi-Fi in your work centers. If that is not the case, it is another sign of IT obsolescence.
Outdated PCs, lack of mobile devices, lack of Wi-Fi and old communication systems are all big signs of obsolete IT in your company.
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 that dramatically reduces the level of ownership the company must manage. That can sometimes feel uncomfortable and 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.