Say Goodbye to Bad Tech
There’s a lot of movements in the tech industry taking hold — #MeToo, encouraging employment instead of contracting, discussing privacy and national security, wrestling with supporting political parties, and more. Even recently, Marc Benioff (Salesforce CEO) is leading an effort for tech companies to plant one trillion trees.
All of these movements are worthwhile to consider and even discuss. Gender equality in the tech industry (including in equality in pay), the types of workers technology companies hire, weighing privacy and security, and staying neutral to political parties are all worthy and all need discussion. We applaud Benioff’s challenge to help the environment, too.
But there’s one movement that should take hold and gain traction: saying goodbye to old technology that doesn’t work and adding new technology that’s desperately needed. Even now, Microsoft has said they cannot support Windows 7 beyond January 15, 2020. And yet people are worried, despite that operating system is now several years old.
It’s not just you. My husband — a tech-savvy systems engineer — has an Amiga in our garage that hasn’t been powered on since the 1990s. He’s fairly sure someone, someday will want it. (I’ll spare you the extra cables and other tech equipment we have.)
Why can’t we say goodbye?
Forget the pack rats, which may apply to my husband, who can’t get rid of old tech. Why people keep technology — at least at companies — is usually related to time, money, and resources. It takes budgets, people, and time to upgrade to new technology and dismantle old technology.
But there are costs, time, and money given to keeping up with old technology.
I’ve been working in web content management, with some development. I can tell you the bane of my existence was Internet Explorer 7 – 9. We were constantly adding new cascading style sheets and additional code to ensure the latest in web technology worked on old browsers. We wasted a lot of time.
But so do your system engineers, architects, and other IT resources. They’re jerry-rigging ways to give a faint heartbeat to your oldest equipment and software. When you think about: how much time are your employees spending on technology that needs to be replaced? The answer might scare you.
Some industries need tech more than others
There are industries where it’s clearly harder to spend money on technology. But sadly, many are the very industries that need it most. The financial services industry is behind, causing them to be overlooked by younger workers, for example.
Some industries are even vulnerable to “digital disruption” — changing the very way they serve customers and possibly threatening their existence. These industries need more help with technology to help them continue to exist. Jungleworks lists these as:
- Oil and gas
- E-commerce and retail
- Logistics and distribution
It’s time to get started
Instead of ignoring which technology needs to be replaced. It’s time to start planning for it, including allocating budget this year and for many years to come. It’s also time to allocate resources and time.
How can you start?
Get technology that meets your organizational strategy and your overall tech strategy. For example, if Microsoft is your platform, find ways to maximize it — leveraging and extending it. If your existence is threatened by digital disruption, consider ways to do that first. Innovate. Talk with employees for their ideas on ways to get that technology in your organization. For example, sometimes contracting are ways to get things done without overburdening staff. Your workers will have ideas about how to sacrifice, if necessary, too. What can your company do without?
Plan: review budgets and staffing models
Although it’s harder to understand where your budget will be over the next several years, your financial officers have a decent idea. Human Resources (HR) will also have a decent idea of needed staffing based on current turnover. Plan with existing resources, and contractors if necessary, what it would take to get new technology in or replaced.
Alongside your strategy, start to prioritize according to your strategy and budget. There’s a lot of systems at your organization that need replacing or adding. Start an inventory of that and begin planning out what that may look like given your tech stack. This will take several conversations, but it’s important to know what your 1, 3, and 5-year plans look like to understand true priorities. Again, if your existence depends on specific technology, add or replace that first.
For example, security is a real issue at many organizations. For some organizations, such as financial services, a security breach can destroy a company.
Use tech to communicate and plan
When considering priorities, you may want to add communication and planning software to help understand needed future technology. Intranets, discussion forums, and Microsoft Teams — for example — can help corral your resources and enable them to collaborate.
Goodbye, old tech — parting is not sweet sorrow
Sure, it’s not easy to say goodbye. Change is hard. We all have that sweater, furniture piece, or knickknack that is barely hanging on to life. And despite it all, we love it.
But technology is different. Technology is there to make us more productive. It serves a purpose. And as much as you like your vendors, you shouldn’t hang on it old tech just because of your relationship with them. If technology isn’t working, isn’t supported, and is physically causing your resources more time and work — where they’re taken away from priorities — it’s time to see so long to it. You don’t need to put it out of its misery immediately, but you should be making plans for euthanasia.
After all, replacing it and adding something that works for your organization, tech stack and strategy is better for everyone. It may even help your organization withstand disruption. New technology will help your organization survive. After all, your competitors may be doing it.
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