To succeed in a world of digital transformation and next generation networking and compute solutions, you must first release yourself from the clutches of legacy IT investments. This, at any rate, often appears to be the message being beamed at CIOs from all quarters. Digital innovation can only deliver if legacy is dead. Get rid of the old if you are serious about maintaining a competitive edge.
But let’s consider the matter in more depth for a second. Is it really true that whatever an enterprise’s good intentions around innovating in networking and moving to digital platforms, they will always be held back to some degree by legacy technologies that they might find hard to chuck away? Do they really have to start all over again and just put up with the cost and disruption?
Would it not in fact be a better, more sensible approach to simply find a way of accommodating legacy investments within a forward-looking digital plan? After all, every new generation of technology that comes along inevitably renders what precedes it to some degree to the status of ‘legacy’. Nobody can afford to start from some drastic Year Zero every time a new idea comes along. True innovation isn’t arguably about cutting all ties with the past, it’s about adding the best of what’s new to the best of what we already have and finding new ways to make it all work.
Methods need to be found to integrate new digital solutions with existing technologies, because let’s face it the majority of ICT deployments will always be brownfield ones. Only start ups can afford to go 100% digital from a standing start. Forward progress cannot just mean getting rid of what you have and starting again, like a greenfield deployment. The job is to pick a digital solution that has the ability to integrate with legacy built into it. It must address this integration in a clean fashion, and not present you with a raft of extra expense and hassle.
Some would go further than this and question whether there has ever been an instance of a legacy technology truly holding back innovation. They might even point to instances where an ‘innovative’ digital investment has actually held back legacy technologies from realizing their real value. Others will cite examples where the cost of deploying a new idea has ended up outweighing any net benefit. That might be going to the other extreme, but there certainly seems to be no reason to suppose that we should all move on from old ideas every few years as a kind of ritual purification. Life is more complicated that that. The success of digital transformation may depend on taking a more nuanced path.
This area was just one of the topics explored in a recent online discussion called ‘Innovative networking strategies to accelerate your competitive edge’.
The conversation was in fact a major first, the opening live event of the Business Innovation Leaders Forum. Chairing the session was Erin Dunne, Director of Research Services with independent analyst firm Vertical Systems Group. She was joined by the following panellists:
Atif Khan, CTO and Founder, Alkira
Ravi Malick, Global Chief Information Officer, Box Inc
Katrina Redmond, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Eaton
Amit Sinha Roy, Vice President, Global Head of Marketing & Communications, Tata Communications
Tom Bianculli, Chief Technology Officer, Zebra Technologies
‘Innovative networking strategies to accelerate your competitive edge’ webcast: https://www.businessinnovationleadersforum.org/events/innovative-networking-strategies-to-accelerate-your-competitive-edge/
Business Innovation Leaders Forum:
By Guy Matthews, Editor of NetReporter