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Copy of Security isn’t the only risk of your legacy software

By Anderson WilliamsSeptember 21, 2020

Modernizing your architecture is modernizing your business. In the words of General Eric Shinseki: “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”

Software is supposed to enable business, so the risk of legacy software should be understood in the business context and not just in the context of technical vulnerabilities and security breaches.

Here are a few business risks from your legacy architecture:

Operational Risk

The Prioritization Game – Legacy software leads to what one of our partners calls the “prioritization game” in which a request, for example, for a new development environment, has to make its way onto and through the various competing priorities within the company’s IT, DevOps, and Application Development teams. It’s ultimately a simple, inexpensive task that can actually be made quite complicated and take weeks and many expensive and wasteful conversations to make happen.

Inefficiency – But, it’s not just the software that causes the prioritization game. It’s that we have built our companies and organizational structures around our legacy software. In other words, we have institutionalized the inefficiencies in our technology as de facto business structures. So, we treat IT, DevOps, and Application Development, for example, as three separate entities with three separate budgets and with three distinct sets of priorities and leaders. Where do the business priorities live?

Market Risk

Resilience – If you didn’t recognize it before the pandemic then surely you do now: markets are changing and changing fast. All companies regardless of vertical are being impacted by more frequent economic shocks, climate disasters, and of course pandemics. We have to build more resilient organizations and more flexible software to adapt to these realities (current and future) and their impacts on our customers and markets.

Innovation – Even in the best of times, without fires and floods and pandemics, the rapid evolution of most of our markets means that we have to invest more in innovation just to stay relevant. This requires the flexibility to test ideas, iterate, and invest in R&D without a massive amount of overhead. So, our software cannot be monolithic or support only a single, monolithic concept of our market. It has to support rapid innovation.

Business Risk

Customer Retention – Because of the rapid evolution of and increased competition in markets, most companies have to do more and faster just to retain their existing clients. It can be very difficult to rationalize significant new investments in your architecture or software processes just to deliver what seems like the same value. Until it’s too late. Responding to customer demands today and retooling for the customer demands of tomorrow are two sides of the same business coin. It’s both-and, not a tradeoff.

Growth – In other words, investing in retention of customers today should be done as part of a larger strategy to modernize your software and processes to grow your customer base tomorrow. Whether you are losing customers because your software offering isn’t staying relevant or your performance isn’t up to snuff – or you just aren’t winning new ones for the same reasons – doesn’t make that much of a difference. In either case, your business is in trouble and it’s because your software is no longer enabling it.

Here’s how to do it:

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