The advent of a new year causes many of us to become contemplative, looking back on the successes and challenges of the past twelve months and forward to what may lie just around the next corner. Alas, while we crane our necks to gain a glimpse of the future, the crystal ball tends to turn up foggy. However, one thing that we can predict with certainty, particularly in the realm of technology, is change. Former methods of doing business, once standards in the industry, give way to the latest developments in communication, marketing and gadgetry. Technology that is currently state of the art will be rendered obsolete while a shifting economy alters the shape of your business practices and your customers demand modes of service that most of us haven’t yet imagined.
As change is inevitable, it is incumbent upon businesses to remain sufficiently flexible to keep up with whatever comes. So the question is: Is your IT organization future proof? If you’re already a little behind in the tech race, it might be time for IT modernization. The following are a few questions that may be helpful in making this determination:
- Is your technology scalable? o Yes o No
If new markets for your products or services should open unexpectedly, does your IT have the capability of expanding to make the most of the opportunity? If your company should acquire other businesses, will your IT be flexible enough to rapidly incorporate customer records and historical data from a variety of software packages and hardware platforms?
- Is your technology cloud compatible? o Yes o No
Are your company’s valuable data locked into a particular device? That’s a lot like being tethered on a short leash. Today, cloud computing is allowing businesses to store their data (everything from inventory to customer records) on the internet, where it can be accessed on the go from any device. If your sales force or executives have a smart phone or tablet, they can obtain the company information they need whether they’re in their cars or in a hotel on the other side of the world. However, most legacy systems are not compatible with the cloud. Don’t let your competitors with modernized systems get ahead of you.
- Is your IT organization prepared to adopt emerging trends in technology? o Yes o No
Today, communicating via social media is taken for granted by your customers. Just a few years ago, however, tweeting, pinning and posting to Facebook walls did not exist. Can you state with confidence that your IT systems are agile enough to ride the next great wave of technology without wiping out?
- Are your systems well integrated? o Yes o No
Are you running modern business software side by side with legacy systems left over from another era? Chances are that your legacy systems can’t communicate with your modern programs, resulting in inefficient manual processes or valuable data that is no longer accessible.
- Are your systems well supported? o Yes o No
As decades go by, businesses often find that their legacy hardware and software is no longer supported. You may be wasting resources just to keep your old systems running (if you can even find employees with skills in the programming languages of yesteryear).
- Is your technology protected from security breaches? o Yes o No
Thousands of businesses around the world still rely on legacy systems for storage, retrieval and manipulation of data. If your company is one of them, your valuable information may be exposed to the predations of hackers and the prying eyes of the competition. Not to mention that potential exposure of your customer’s data may cause you to be tapped on the shoulder by corporate governance. The last thing you want is a data breach that results in privacy violations, identity theft, negative publicity in the media and perhaps even legal liability.
If you answered “no” to one or more of the above questions, it may be time to look into IT modernization. This does not necessarily mean that you need to scrap your legacy systems. Expertise is available from vendors such as Mulesoft that specialize in smoothly integrating your systems into a single agile system that is ready to take on new technology and business opportunities — whatever the future may bring.