What's Your Competitive Position?
Updated: Sep 13, 2019
The picture says it all. You are way behind your competitors, and they keep increasing their technological lead. In today’s data-driven, automated world, a technological advantage over a competitor isn’t just an edge, or even a weapon – it is a force multiplier.
Many companies share a similar story: their technology is worn, old, and in desperate need of repair. Technology is often seen as a cost center (particularly in companies that have older technology), and there is a tendency to "just keep it going." Eventually, the technology breaks, or becomes an impediment to acquiring new business, products, or customers.
Many companies still rely on home-grow systems. When these systems were built, often 15-20 years ago, they provided the company a technological advantage, allowing the company's intellectual capabilities to be automated in such a way that they could outperform their competitors. What happened after was that the technology stagnated, with few major improvements and innovations being added. The continuum showed above kept moving to the right, pushing the company's tech to the left of the scale.
Many companies often wait until a crisis hits before making major changes to their technology (often accompanied by major changes to technology leadership). By then, it is often too late. Major technical changes should not be done under crisis conditions - the results are often unsatisfactory and divorced from the business. Technology is measured in dog-years, so a 10-year-old system is 70 years old in people terms, which is a little past retirement age. If your company is using 10-year-old tech, and your competitors are running Salesforce, Oracle or Microsoft, you are in trouble. They are getting new innovations, features and updates 3 times per year, and your last innovation was a long time ago. Not to mention their security is state-of-the-art and monitored 24x7 by a team of experts, and yours is...not.
My advice to my customers is this: PLAN to replace your systems. The best time to plan for a system's replacement is when it is still working well and not costing too much money in the way of outages, emergency fixes, or unplanned downtime. A CFO once told me that he liked his company's systems because the hardware they ran on was fully depreciated. I pointed out to him that the depreciation schedule he used (7 years) also happened to match the lifespan of the hardware, so if it was fully depreciated, it was at the end of its life span and needed to be replaced. Looked at in that light, he was facing an imminent multi-million dollar expenditure. Wouldn't it be better to to invest in a new platform rather than the old one?
A technology gap as illustrated above will have huge business consequences for a company, in terms of higher expenses, lost revenue potential, and reduced market share. Think about where your technology is in the continuum. Think about where your competitors are, and plan on how to get to the right side of them.