As we approach 2020, the inflation on technical debt continues to exponentially accelerate, and organizations may find it increasingly difficult to fund and manage the investment required to eradicate debt.
- Difficulty establishing current state. Information Technology departments have chronically lacked the time and dollars to invest, maintain and leverage configuration management tools, ergo rely on tribal or individual knowledge to understand current architectures and inventories.
- Difficulty understanding the broad change required to leverage “the cloud.” There continues to be a lack of understanding that “cloud” requires a new IT business model, not just a new technology. Vendor management, annual budgeting, service management processes – these and more require overhauls.
- Difficulty with interstitial cost of “as is” vs. “the cloud.” Change costs money. Many organizations have one foot in long-standing on-premise data centers, another foot in SAAS applications, and have stuck a toe in public cloud. This requires multiple models of operational management.
- Difficulty with funding and fortitude needed to deal with the change. The debt (tech, talent, process, leadership) grows exponentially as months/years go by – organizations who defer $ investment in digital transformation end up with more $investment needed, while customer erosion risk gets higher. In other words, the inflation on tech debt may exceed the ability of a company’s ability to acquire and retain customers with experiences dependent on legacy technology.
- Difficulty finding the talent (employee or alternately sourced) to deliver the change. The competition and price point for quality employee- , consultant – or contract-based talent coupled with the continued paucity of college graduates in the related fields.
Conclusion: Organizations with material technology debt are at risk of being unable to afford the $ and time it could take to digitally transform within the existing organizational construct.
A solution for CIO/CXOs who have material technology debt in their IT departments could consider “green field” delivery of contemporary digital solutions starting with the most urgent to gain/retain market share (customers). Acquire the organization and platforms necessary to deliver new tech completely outside of existing IT, then grow the “green field” while starving existing legacy AND protecting existing talent. “Green field” should not lead to uncomfortable personnel decisions; up- and re-skilling existing talent should be part of the “green field.”