11/11/2016

Antiquated Technology: Infrastructure from Boon to Bust

by Alexander Birger

Technology is integral to running a company in today’s business landscape. Technology serves to connect businesses to clients, automate meticulous processes, and manage vast amounts of data, among other critical functions. Essentially, technology serves to benefit and grow businesses. What happens, though, when the opposite is true? What happens when the technology that once promoted more productivity and business growth begins to slow down or fail to scale with growing business needs? Many businesses are hesitant to approach the problem of antiquated technology, but serious consequences can arise from a failure to update their aging systems.

How does a company’s trusted infrastructure go from providing necessary support to causing the business to hemorrhage money? Every company’s system is different, but in general the path to frustration and financial encumbrance passes through several common phases:

  • Birth of the System
    • Within the company employees spend time and effort generating reports on paper and keeping paper records
    • Someone has the great idea to build a simple software system to help with those manual tasks
      • As a result, productivity increases and the system benefits the company greatly
    • The software is written on a single computer that is used by all employees as the sole terminal to the system
  • Growth, Improvement, and Hotfixes
    • As the company grows, improvements are added to the technology
    • One by one, new features are added to fix old problems, often times by different developers or system administrators
    • As more hotfixes and features are implemented, the architecture of the system gets more complicated
      • Employees learn to work through the kinks and quirks that are required to run the system normally
    • As time goes by, temporary solutions become permanent and routine
  • Problems Arise and Old Workarounds and Hotfixes Are No Longer Effective
    • The technology ages and relies on an outdated operating system
      • It is forced to use unsafe, old versions of software
    • Data within the system is difficult to alter, expand, or rework
    • Due to years of unorthodox cataloging, data can become difficult to reach
    • The code was written using previously unknown, exploitable methodologies that were never updated to prevent or counteract the danger of exploitation once those dangers became preventable
  • Problem Persist and Become Preventative of Growth and Disruptive of Business
    • The system becomes glitchy, sometimes fatally so
    • Some usual operations require users to log out in order to function
      • Sometimes only a single machine can perform certain critical tasks
      • Sometimes a single account can lock out other users
    • Data is corrupted by
      • Software freezing while it was saving data
      • Technology limitations
      • Power outages
      • Incorrect or invalid data input (the system expects one format but receives another)
  • Action is Required
    • The technology is a complete hindrance to continuing business
    • Something must be done to either fix or replace the old system
    • By this point, business has been turned away and money lost due to the old system and its problems

The solution to an antiquated system is not always simple. Many companies cannot just ask the original developer to rewrite the system with updated technology. Sometimes a product is available on the market to replace certain functions within a system, but cost is always a factor when licensing a solution off the shelf. Furthermore, changing working procedures and adjusting the business model is not something that anyone wants to do just to accommodate a software fix; changes can often incur more risk than any benefit received from an off-the-shelf product.

Once a system gets so bogged down by antiquated technology that it is a hindrance to business, there is only one sure shot way to move forward effectively to fix all issues and provide the support needed for a full recovery: outside help. Custom software development is an opportunity to finally be free of the burden of a slow, laggy, glitchy, or convoluted system that is preventing your business from reaching its potential. Limping along while dragging your ancient infrastructure behind you is no way to thrive when custom software can remedy the problems while seamlessly integrating with your business model, something you will never find out of a box. Do not wait until your system is losing you money in the form of lost customers, unproductive employees, delayed reports, lost data, or any of the other symptoms caused by maintaining antiquated technology; seek professional help and get your business back on track.

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