The Tipping Point for Legacy Technology

The Tipping Point for Legacy Technology

Legacy technology has such a nice ring to it, right? We all want to leave a legacy in this life, but in the world of small and medium-sized business technology, legacy has a different connotation – and it’s not always a good thing.

If you’ve ever sprained your eyeballs from rolling them in the back of your head when that piece of company software that everyone must use goes on the fritz – you’ve experienced the downside of legacy technology.

Why are we talking so much about old technology in the workplace today? In many cases, legacy technology is a necessary evil, but eventually, every company reaches a tipping point. At that point, it literally costs more to stick with antiquated systems than to update the infrastructure.

If It’s Not Broke, Should You Fix It?

Since we are deep into the football season, allow us the opportunity to use an anecdote that might better highlight why some organizations get stuck using legacy technology.

Alfred Morris plays the running back position for the Dallas Cowboys, when he came into the National Football League in 2012 he made headlines for more than just helping elevate his team’s performance on the field. Morris, despite having a million-dollar-contract to play football drives a 26-year-old Mazda 626 sedan.

The car originally cost him $2.

Why does Morris continue to drive his Mazda, even though he could easily have a garage full of brand new vehicles?  “It just keeps me grounded, where I came from and all the hard work for me to get to this point,” Morris said in 2012.

The Mazda is Morris’ legacy vehicle and he swears that he’ll continue to drive the car until it physically cannot be driven any longer.

Let’s change context now and highlight office legacy technology. If a piece of technology still works after 26 years and every member of the team must use this technology to perform their job functions, there is a very good chance it’s a steaming pile of junk.

Even if it technically works, that doesn’t mean it’s effective or efficient. There is a reason we don’t have to use MS-DOS anymore to navigate through our computer systems. Extreme examples aside, how do you know when it’s time to consider technology upgrades? This is a question our clients often wrestle with because every business has a different tipping point when it comes time to upgrade.

The Tipping Point

Change is good in business and when new managers are promoted or hired, they look to implement changes that can help increase productivity, profitability, and efficiency. Doing things “the way they’ve always been done” is safe but rarely helps a company take the next leap in terms of growth.

The adoption rate for new technologies tends to follow an S-curve, meaning that some users are quick to change while a lot tend to take on new technologies during the middle and some are late to the party. This is primarily because it takes a while for companies to find out and be convinced about new technologies and when they do, it takes even longer for staff to assimilate and use it effectively.

Another reason legacy technology tends to stick around for longer than it should it because businesses often develop unique processes for problem-solving. An intranet that facilitates communication and problem-solving for one organization might be completely useless for another.

Savvy managers might consider advice from the Harvard Business Review when it comes to assessing whether new technology can help improve organizational capabilities:

Managers constantly try to fit new market needs to existing processes and routines. Sometimes they are a fit, but often they are not. They can even require cultural change, which is difficult for established organizations.

Is that server housing important customer data still functional? Or is it functionally obsolete? The same article outlines the argument like this:

The first thing they should do is distinguish between “functional” and “economic” obsolescence. Functional obsolescence occurs when an asset does not support competitive capability. Economic obsolescence means your depreciation schedule, which is set by local tax law, says the asset is at the end of its accounting life. The challenge is not to let residual book values of equipment get in the way of having the most competitive capabilities.

Don't Be Resistant To Change

It can be tricky to determine when is the proper time to kick your old technology to the curb. But the truth of the matter is that at some point, on a long enough timeline all legacy technology will need to be decommissioned for the business to stay competitive. New technology and new systems come at an expense – but becoming irrelevant in your market is the biggest expense of all.

Throwing good money into bad systems will result in a cost that exceeds the total of adopting new systems. This is a surefire recipe for insolvency.

The breadth of options for businesses that exist in cloud computing makes knowing the answer easier, even if the path to getting there is unclear.

Consider these questions when it comes to outlining an argument for jettisoning legacy technology:

  • Why are we in business?
  • Why was this company started in the first place?
  • Why should our customers or clients buy from us?
  • What is our competitive advantage?

Seek Help

Outsourced IT solutions can be a tremendous asset for small and medium-sized businesses who know they’ve reached the tipping point, but are unsure of how to move forward. We’ve helped thousands of businesses around New Jersey and throughout the entire world implement custom technology solutions which include ditching legacy technology for cloud-based solutions.

The good news for you is that cloud integration and security has never been easier. When you have a technology partner that is invested in your success, you’ll never feel like a number. We can help you set up complete virtual networks for your company that can help eliminate the need for storage or cooling costs. Say goodbye to frustrating legacy technology for good.

Remember the anecdote about Alfred Morris? We wanted to finish off this article by mentioning that he was able to jettison some of the “legacy” components of his car.

Mazda offered to ensure that Morris stayed safe during his commutes to practice by improving the infrastructure of the car he refers to as “Bently”:

Bentley did get bit of a makeover to help it continue shuttling Morris to and from practice. In 2013, Mazda offered to refurbish the car for Morris, and he readily accepted. The company gutted the sedan, stripping it down to its skeleton and installing a new engine, new interiors and a GPS.

Like technology upgrades, sometimes you don’t need a new model. You can improve the insides of what you’ve been working with for years and get better results. These improvements can help take the performance to the next level.

Continuous can help provide customized solutions for your business technology and be there to provide support every step of the way. Stay ahead of the competition and continue to thrive with some help from us!