The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Are legacy systems a drag on your recovery?

In a recent HP survey of 700 IT and application leaders, more than two-thirds said that their company’s IT technology strategy is constrained by their current applications portfolio.

brittle applications.png


This is a case of drowning in one’s own success, since all the application in the portfolio added value back when they were created. Businesses and technology change and the value generated may no longer exist. There are just too many apps and too little value. After a while it can be difficult to understand if an application still adds more value than it costs and even more difficult to “pull the plug” without an external mandate.


A few things happened in recent years that should have made organizations reach to yank the cord, like the downturn of the economy but some of the same responses to the downturn like removing “excess personnel” have made organizations fragile and unable to move out of the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mode.


Instant-On pressures are developing within organizations, as they look at cloud and other flexible business models. The time to “leave it alone” is coming to an end. Interfaces between systems are an expectation and master data management approaches will require organizations to look at:

  • the kind of data being held in systems,
  • how the data is being maintained,
  • what decisions are being made from the data by whom.

The slow recovery is going to require more flexible and integrated systems -- after all technology has not stopped its advances during the downturn. There are new customers and they have different expectations. There are also new automation techniques available that increase the quality while lowering costs.


The party's over and it's time to police the area…

My family and I are moving this week to a new house after living in the same one for 14 years. The moving process reminds me a bit of the application portfolio cleanup process that organizations periodically go through.


Apps rationalization is sometimes left for later in many organizations, sort of like the cleanup after a blowout party (or after living in the same place for too long). We all know what a chore that kind of thing can turn into, but if it is done a little at a time and the portfolio is kept neat and tidy there will be little need for the big budget cleanup effort.


I'd bet we threw away as much as we moved over the past month, since much of what was in our old house we hadn’t used in years. The same thing can happen to an organizations application portfolio.  Those things that remain behind can be polished up a bit and made more useful -- especially now that a cloud based approach is possible.


There will be a few posts on applications rationalization coming up over the next few weeks – definitely once I get moved in and have reliable Internet service working...

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation.