When Altus asked me to put together a blog on the last ten years of innovation in digital ecosystems, I’m not ashamed to admit I was pretty excited. I mean, ten years ago, the world was a very different place and there has been a wealth of innovation in the digital space since then.
Mobile phones are a great example. The year before the IPhone was first launched, the winner of Mobile Gazette’s phone of the year was the Sony Ericsson K800i. It had a colour screen, a camera, and even a decent music player. That said, I think it’s fair to say it doesn’t really hold a torch to the iPhone 6S or a Galaxy S7 Edge which are, depending on which ‘top trumps’ feature you would like to compare on (storage, screen quality, camera etc.) between 50 and 100 times more powerful.
So what of the noble K800i? Where have the once proud owners of these devices decided to display their possessions? Discarded at the back of a draw or in a sorry looking window corner of Cash Convertors is my best bet. They have become outdated and massively superseded, so consumers have discarded the devices.
And good on them I say. Embracing new technology brings with it fantastic benefits. So what does this matter for financial services organisations? Well, the simple answer is, they can’t just move on.
The technology estates of Retail Banks and Life Companies are riddled with a complex mesh of technologies from every imaginable era. There are original COBOL and iSeries/AS400 units from the late 1980s sitting alongside fragments of client-server architectures that were supposed to replace them. Surrounding these are newer n-tier architectures and cloud services from a cornucopia of sources feeding data in from across businesses and external sources (via any number of data transfer types).
All of these systems are supporting the numerous complex calculations which underpin products for retail clients which are designed to last a lifetime. There are active client books a plenty, and although they often have dwindling numbers, migrating customers away from these systems represents a significant challenge both operationally and technologically.
The reality is, regardless of the technical challenges, these legacy systems should have been shut down properly long ago with client books migrated to more sustainable platforms. This would have been the equivalent of sending our trusty K800i off to Envirofone. Instead, firms have decided to throw it to the back of the desk drawer and forget about it.
After all, decommissioning programmes are never as exciting as the put-in-new-technology programmes. They just save you money, simplify your processes and de-risk your estate.
I want shiny new stuff!
It’s all very well throwing your old tech to the back of the drawer but, after you’ve done that a few times, the drawer starts to look pretty full. You start to lose track of how many phones you have, which phones are in which drawers and whose numbers are in which phone. Firms need to get on top of this mess of technology or they run the risk of not being able to find anyone who still knows the unlock codes.
This blog was originally published in the Altus Consulting Blog. You can find the original blog, and many more great pieces here: https://www.altus.co.uk/consulting/blog/archive/digital-ecosystem-management-top-drawer-it-management/