Friday, May 16, 2014

From the IOS Mailbag

By Brian Kopack

IOS,

I would like to discuss some ideas on how best to proceed with my current situation.  

In my new position, I am responsible for managing our aging information management system.  The system is old and its functionality is limited.  To keep up with the information needs of our department managers, we have been forced to create several manual workarounds to compensate for our system’s restrictions.  We have to retain hardware and technicians specifically dedicated to maintaining the system.

I know we need to do something, but I need some direction on how to do the analysis to prove it. 

Any help you can provide would be most appreciated.

By the way, I enjoyed watching your videos.  

I chose to respond to this question publicly because we get some flavor of it all the time.  Technology is constantly advancing and the information needs of businesses are increasing dramatically.  Budgets are tight and time to squeeze in another project is scarce.  Put all of that together and it is easy to understand how companies get frustrated.

If you are considering upgrading / replacing the current system, I think you need to know exactly how much it really costs to operate in the current environment.  The real cost is more than whatever software licensing fees you pay.  The older the system, the more your business is leaking time and money.

Maintaining a legacy system can be expensive.  You might be in a “high rent low living” situation because to keep your current system going you need to maintain hardware and compatible, older-version software.

You might be employing extra employees to muscle through tasks you can’t automate.

You are probably spending time reviewing / auditing / correcting information that you can’t control within the software – again, maybe with more additional employees.

And, depending how integrated the systems within your business are, rewriting links to the disparate programs every time anything is upgraded or patched or replaced can vary between expensive and really expensive.

If you look at it honestly, I think you will find you aren’t getting any real value for your effort.

A new system might come with a healthy price tag, but when you consider the total cost of ownership for your current (old) system, there isn’t really a comparison.

One last thing – I think the videos are pretty great too.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Waiting for Take Off

By Brian Kopack

I have been traveling my share lately.

Travel enough and you are assured of a lot of things: early mornings, long lines, expensive food, that awesome TSA message about carry-on bags and….delays.

During my last delay (3 ½ hours in Dallas) I was so bored I sat for a while and watched the ticketing agent explain to one crabby person after another why the flight was delayed and when she thought we might actually leave.

Then I saw it.  Actually, I heard it. A dot matrix printer with an endless supply of continuous-feed paper attached to it.  It just kept printing and printing and printing.  Very strange.

Right there in the middle of this enormous, zillion dollar terminal was a dot matrix printer ripping through page after page.  Giant flat screens, restaurants, retail stores, massage chairs and a dot matrix printer.  Which of these just doesn’t belong here?  You can get through security with a fingerprint and board with a ticket on your smartphone, but they are using Mary Tyler Moore’s printer behind the desk.  Nice.

There are probably two different perspectives here.  Let’s explore.

Maybe you think it’s great this relic has found a way to stay relevant when everything around it has given way to evolution.

Or…

Maybe you can’t believe the printer is still around in the midst of all the progress.  Everything about it screams defeat, stuckness.

How you answer probably says something about you, but we’ll save the psychoanalysis for another time.

Now, imagine the printer is a metaphor for the content management systems you use in your business.  Are they old and out of date?  Has everything grown up around them?  Are they just sitting in the corner making noise?  If the answer to any/all of these is yes, why?

Even though change is difficult and scary, the alternative, doing nothing, is worse.  What could be more terrible than watching your business become irrelevant right before your eyes?

You can’t fear the future.  More data doesn’t mean less knowledge.  More technology doesn’t mean less control.  Being more connected doesn’t mean you have less freedom.  That’s urban legend created by people’s overactive sci-fi imaginations.

Think about it this way.  A little old makes you retro.  A lot old makes you antique.  Older than that and you are a museum exhibit.

Systems exist today that can create opportunities you probably never imagined.  State of the art technology combined with process automation can have a transformative effect on how you do business.

A little effort plus great advice from an expert partner is all that is standing between your business and the future.

If you commit to the effort, I know some experts.