“New isn’t always better” many say; however, when it comes to digital technology, that may not be the wisest advice to pass along professionally.
Yet despite warnings, many continue to protect and defend the status quo of systems and processes long outdated for the sake of comfort and cost savings. “It is what we’re used to,” comes the reply, or “The software moved to a subscription model; why pay every month when the old version is just fine?”
We live in a world of exponential technological change, where new developments in software or systems aren’t always just for the sake of something new. From cybercriminals getting smarter to computers and devices operating faster than ever, the cost of using outdated technology will eventually far exceed the amount you’re saving in avoiding an upgrade.
Old Systems Can Be Dangerously Costly
At one point or another, every organization’s knee jerk response to the need to implement an entirely new technology or software is to avoid it, especially one that directly relates to the product or service they offer.
However, putting off that technology upgrade can cost your organization far more than money. Let’s take a look at two completely different examples of legacy technology negatively impacting organizations in ways never thought possible.
A large-scale printing company I worked with recently is in the business of graphic design, so its go-to software is Adobe Illustrator and, moreover, the Creative Suite. One of the owners, being very conscientious of their bottom line, decided to pass on upgrading to the Adobe Creative Cloud, a cloud-based subscription system that takes care of keeping all design programs updated for the customer without said customer having to go buy the new version each year.
Unfortunately, as Adobe implemented new tools and features in their Creative Cloud software, this large-scale printing business started to struggle to open files sent in by clients, and eventually, Adobe actually discontinued the company’s ability to use the legacy software! Its employees came to work and literally couldn’t do work, which resulted in a loss of clientele as they scrambled to sign up for a corporate Adobe account and install the software on all employee computers.
Even more recently, an article was published that highlighted the fact that government agency systems were actually turning 50 years old! The very government that oversees everything in our free nation is using legacy software, and in the past has actually spent nearly $35 billion to maintain these legacy systems.
If this makes you cringe, it should! But cost aside, a government of any kind trying desperately to protect and defend the status quo of their legacy technology has far more costly risks to it than just a wasted budget in the billions, if you can believe it. These issues include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Data breaches. Legacy technology is extremely susceptible to cybercrime, and as machines get smarter, so do cybercriminals. Not only is vendor support usually completely nonexistent, legacy technology has no improvements to its security measures, and its operating system has gaps that newer technology has fixed, which furthers security risks.
- Compliance issues. Much like the healthcare industry and HIPAA compliance, government agencies must remain compliant in their operating procedures. This certainly includes operating systems of software, especially as it has to do with the sensitive data of every American citizen. Several legacy systems either lack compliance or, worse, are completely non-compliant and open to data breaches.
- Unreliable systems. Many organizations believe that legacy systems still “work.” However, what “works” will eventually misfire, and when it does, it will render certain workflows completely useless.
Legacy Technology and Legacy Thinking
While there is inherent danger in clinging to legacy technology and outdated software, there is actually a direct correlation between legacy technology and legacy thinking.
Legacy thinking goes far beyond just clinging to outdated software and computers from a decade ago. The practice of legacy thinking is rooted heavily in protecting and defending the status quo; a solely agile mindset that is proficient in putting out fires caused by disruption rather than getting in front of it using anticipation.
What I teach in my Anticipatory Organization® Model is to implement my Hard Trend Methodology, where you separate the future certainty of Hard Trends from the future possibility of Soft Trends and use them to become the disruptor of your industry rather than the disrupted.
New technology systems that replace the legacy technology many organizations are so accustomed to is a Hard Trend; it will happen and is happening every day, even more so now with subscription-based software like the Adobe Creative Suite. Moving beyond legacy thinking that takes comfort in complacency is implementing an anticipatory mindset.
Learn to Say “Yes” Instead of “No”
Saying “no” to updating legacy technology or systems can easily be justified due to the possibility that an upgrade can be costly, take time and even run the risk of failing, putting your daily business operation behind.
However, as digital exponential change increases, especially after COVID-19 forced so many of us to change in many ways, having an anticipatory mindset is the best way to move forward and say “yes” to improving your systems and mindsets, moving beyond legacy technology.
Change is the only constant, so understanding what Hard Trends are shaping the world around you using anticipation to change with the times is how you and your organization can move beyond legacy technology, legacy thinking and costly disruptions.