Is legacy tech holding up your digital progress?

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

www.alkira.com

 

Ravi Malick, Global Chief Information Officer, Box Inc

www.box.com

 

Katrina Redmond, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Eaton

www.eaton.com

 

Amit Sinha Roy, Vice President, Global Head of Marketing & Communications, Tata Communications

www.tatacommunications.com

 

Tom Bianculli, Chief Technology Officer, Zebra Technologies

www.zebra.com

 

Link to the ‘Innovative networking strategies to accelerate your competitive edge’ webcast: https://www.businessinnovationleadersforum.org/events/innovative-networking-strategies-to-accelerate-your-competitive-edge/

 

 

 

By Guy Matthews, Content Editor, Business Innovation Leaders Forum

www.businessinnovationleadersforum.org

Guy New 300x265

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Book of the Month*

The Serendipity Mindset: The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck

By Dr Christian Busch
Serendipity is an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. To other people it looks like “good luck”, but it is more the ability to recognise and seize an opportunity, rather than have good fortune thrust upon one. Finding a wallet stuffed with money on the conference room floor is good luck, whereas holding it up and asking if anyone has lost their wallet might be the beginning of a valuable friendship – that would be serendipity.

Chance encounters, or strokes of fortune, feature in countless stories of business success. This book looks beneath the surface, reveals and teaches the mindset that can transform pure chance into opportunity. The author is director of the Global Economy Program at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, and a lecturer at the London School of Economics.

Serendipity is an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. To other people it looks like “good luck”, but it is more the ability to recognise and seize an opportunity, rather than have good fortune thrust upon one. Finding a wallet stuffed with money on the conference room floor is good luck, whereas holding it up and asking if anyone has lost their wallet might be the beginning of a valuable friendship – that would be serendipity.

The author says “This is a book about the interactions of coincidence, human ambition and imagination”. In the above example: finding the wallet is the coincidence; ambition is the desire to make something of the discovery; add imagination and you open up a whole menu of possibilities: from spending spree to earning a reputation for honesty – or even making a wealthy friend.

Business is typically forged on human ambition and imagination, but early success often feeds an appetite for control – and “control freaks” can be blind to the opportunities thrown up by the unexpected. They only see chance events as distractions. If plans go awry, they may blame the failure on “bad luck” rather than admit their own inflexible attitude.

The author himself admits to being “a German who is used to planning” and prone to feel anxious when something unexpected happens. That makes him an ideal teacher, because he has worked hard to discover and analyse the mindset that enables one to “connect the dots” and cultivate serendipity. He presents a goldmine of examples from science, business and life where an apparent mishap or failure lead to a breakthrough.

Indeed, studies suggest that around 50% of major scientific breakthroughs emerge as the result of accidents or coincidences. A well-known example is Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, launching the whole field of antibiotics. Other examples include X-rays, nylon, microwave ovens, rubber, Velcro, Viagra and Post-it Notes – where would we be without these!

The book goes beyond the ability to recognise and respond to opportunities in chaos, but the subtitle – The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck – is actually a bit misleading. True, he does show ways to develop better fortune, but it would be better to call it “inviting” or “encouraging” good luck. For example, he suggests better ways to start a conversation with a stranger – ways that will make it more likely to lead to chance connections or shared interests.

The publishers may have chosen the word “creating” to make the book appeal to the human desire to control – for control freaks are exactly the readership that would benefit the most from this book’s wisdom and practical advice.

For the rest of us, it offers a great way to rediscover the sense of play that is so important in life – and too often lost in business.

“Following the success of The Serendipity Mindset hardback, a paperback edition has also now been launched under the title “Connect the Dots”.

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