Today’s pace of technological advancement is fast. Scary fast. For the IT professional driving the technological equivalent of a Ford Pinto, every road is an entrance to the freeway and one look in the mirror is enough to send shivers down the spine. Obsolescence has a lead foot. It's got the pedal to the metal (so to speak) and it's bearing down on your legacy system like a Mack truck with the high beams on.
You can't outrun obsolescence. But you may be able to outsmart it. First, you'll need to know what you're dealing with. As Sun Tzu said in the Art of War, “Know yourself…know your enemy…and fight a hundred battles without danger.”
Defining the Problem: Two Types of Obsolescence
Obsolescence is the biggest threat to the long-term viability of your benefits administration system. And there are two distinct types: technical and functional obsolescence.
Technical obsolescence occurs when existing products and technologies are outperformed or replaced by newer counterparts; or, alternately, when they are marooned by companies who cease to support them. This is the kind of obsolescence that gives you serious tech envy. (You’ve experienced this. Remember when you bought the first-gen iPad and then the very next year they offered a slimmer, better design with FaceTime capability? You couldn’t even look at your old iPad anymore, could you?)
All kidding aside, it can be a serious issue trying to Keep up with the Jones. Especially if upgrading isn’t an option. Incorporating new products and technologies into an existing system can be costly, time-consuming, and challenging. Even if new pieces are successfully incorporated in one area, they may cause unforeseen consequences in others. This can lead to performance loss, system downtime, and serious headaches for your IT staff.
Functional obsolescence, on the other hand, occurs when products or technologies can no longer perform the duties required of them. Let’s look at an example. More and more people nowadays are using the internet, and not just to search for videos of kittens but for other important stuff like banking or managing their pension or unemployment benefits. Suddenly, the market demands online self-service capabilities. Does your system provide that? If not, you’ve got a whole lot of upset members on your hands.
This problem is further compounded by the fact that when outdated versions or products suffer problems, there is nobody around to fix it. Sure, you may have a system that’s served you well over the last 20 years, cobbled together piece-by-piece, circuit board-by-circuit board, by your one-man IT superstar (let’s call him ‘Gus’). But what happens when Gus retires? And meanwhile, your system breaks down? You’ve got a Frankenstein's monster on your hands and no doctor to revive it. You'll wonder, "Is it alive...ALIVE?!" Nope. It's dead. DEAD!
What to Do About It?
OK, now that we know what we’re dealing with, is there anything we can do about it? Well, obviously there are strategies. Some are better than others.
You can overcome these challenges through digital modernization strategies which improve the efficacy of service delivery and reduce costs at the same time. Having a digital modernization vision and strategy is crucial for success. Digital modernization is not a “project.” It’s a continuous process that requires you to build a culture around disrupting the status quo to achieve dramatic outcomes.
Many organizations might have already taken a few steps in the direction of digital modernization:
• Some have transformed their strategy for security and data.
• Many have reduced paper and manual processes by replacing legacy systems and automating processes.
• Others have provided at least some online self-service options to their customers.
• A few have focused time on business process re-engineering and management for better efficiency and
If that sounds like your organization, you are ready for some of the next steps: consolidating shadow IT, improving integration to create a digital ecosystem, and developing a DevOps and continuous improvement culture.
To take it to the next level, you must embrace low-code/no-code development platforms for the foundation of your technology. These platforms provide visual development environments helping minimize or eliminate traditional programming to build complex applications. In addition to enhancing customer experiences and improving ROI, low-code/no-code development can help you with:
- Avoiding Becoming Obsolete: Low-code/No-code platforms evolve with technology, they are decoupled from your business logic, and they are easy to make changes to. This flexibility helps your systems remain current and not become obsolete.
- Speed with Purpose: The ease of development with low-code/no-code platforms helps bring production apps to the organization quickly and cost-effectively.
- Flexibility to Continuously Improve: Consolidating shadow IT and orchestrating all your business processes through a simple interface helps you decide when and where modernization is needed.
- Scalability When You Need It: Think big, start small, and scale rapidly by turning containerized prototypes into deployable cloud-native apps with a few clicks.
Read more about low-code/no-code platforms, like Sagitec's Xelence, and how they can help you and your IT systems not become obsolete.