Spotting Signs Your IT is Out of Date

Focus on the four primary levels of evaluation

The evolution of IT technology is advancing at breakneck speed. This evolution not only keeps the IT department in a constant state of change, but also dramatically changes the way the overall business must adapt to stay competitive.

IT technologies have rapidly morphed, including the way users consume them. Companies that hesitate to adapt will quickly fall from market leaders to laggards depending how effectively they embrace digital transformation.

But how does a leader know if the company is leading or lagging, and if its IT is out of date? While there are numerous ways to evaluate, let us focus on four primary levels, including infrastructure, applications, mobility and workplace IT.

Infrastructure

When we talk about infrastructure, first thoughts typically go to the cloud. The cloud, in essence, is a change of paradigm, not a technological change. Your company, in the past, purchased servers typically housed in your own data center. This model was based on periodic capital investments.

The maintenance might have been done by internal or external teams. Depending on a company’s approach, there was often an operational expense to support the data center too. The challenge is data centers can become outdated quickly, and you must maintain ongoing hardware investments to maintain effectivity.

If you have not already, an evaluation of completely moving to an operational model in the cloud should be conducted. Oftentimes, companies are forced to do so because some aspects of their infrastructure and applications require the cloud.

Keeping a data center on your company’s premises is a clear sign of outdated IT and not using the cloud at all is another one.

Applications

You probably have a combination of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) business and legacy applications as well as some developed ad-hoc for your business (bespoke applications). When we talk about COT, there are two signs your systems are outdated. First, the version you use is no longer supported by the vendor, and there is not an easy way to upgrade the version.

This situation, sooner or later, will trigger tough decisions that will require an important, and potentially significant, investment. When we talk about bespoke applications, an important sign of obsolescence is when the technology used to develop your application is not used anymore in new applications and it is hard to find developers to maintain them.

The final point to mention here is licensing. Licensing models are moving more to SaaS (Software as a Service) where you pay for the whole package including software and hosting. If most of the applications you have follow an old licensing model, this might mean you are not moving at the right pace and need to rethink your applications strategy.

Applications versions, licensing models and technology used in your development will guide you on how outdated your applications ecosystem is.

Mobility

With mobility, we refer to how employees or customers can interact with the company via mobile devices. This is typically the area of greatest obsolescence in companies. In the most common failings, your employees are not able to manage their work from their mobile devices or your customers are not able to access your website in a mobile friendly way. Consumer use of mobile has overtaken the use of desktops to access services. Businesses must adapt instead of relying on laptop use.

If mobile is not a core part of your IT strategy, this means your IT has been outdated for a while already and you should define a strategy to catch up.

Workplace IT

The last, but not least, indicator of outdated IT we want to highlight is workplace IT. This addresses desktop PCs, laptops, mobile phones and workspace applications like email, telephony, video/audioconferencing, etc.

It is well understood you need a plan to renew your devices, which is usually every three years for mobile phones depending on your specific needs. You also need to have your operating system up to date to run modern applications. If you do not have an update plan, it’s a sign that the workplace is outdated. Another clear sign is if you use a hosted email system instead of a cloud system or if you still use old telephony devices instead of IP ones.

For a non-IT company, IT is becoming a service rather than a duty that the company itself manages. That can sometimes feel uncomfortable and perceived as a loss of control. But it really means IT is managed by highly specialized companies so your company can focus on your own business and customers, surely much more exciting than IT itself.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of Security Today.

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