5 Ways Smart Companies Overcome Legacy Technology Lock-in

TIBCO Connected Intelligence
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The pace of new technology is ever-growing, with little chance of slowing down. As a result, enterprises that invested heavily in new systems—even as recently as the last few years—now find their systems out-of-date even before they have paid them off. And worse, they can’t just scrap them and start over with a new approach because of technology lock-in (also known as vendor lock-in, proprietary lock-in, or customer lock-in).

A recent survey reports that two-thirds of CIOs would prefer to use cloud services from several different vendors, but 71 percent of them still rely on only one cloud provider. And companies that have a multi-vendor strategy still spend an average of 95 percent of their cloud budget with one provider. 

What Is Technology Lock-in?

Technology lock-in is when you are dependent on a single vendor, product, system, or application because—having sunk a lot of time, effort, and money into one of them—switching to a competitor would be incredibly difficult, expensive, or time-consuming.

Closed, proprietary software or systems purposely encourage technology lock-in, ensuring long-term customers and revenues while discouraging innovation. It’s an all too common problem in the corporate world because the business model is so effective—many executives 

really don’t want the hassle and just tolerate legacy systems. But there are additional costs you may not be taking into account.

The Hidden Costs of Vendor Lock-in

Doing nothing about a company’s subpar apps or systems can do serious damage to a company’s profitability as outdated technology:

  • Reduces employee productivity
  • Decreases employee morale
  • Increases employee turnover

Old technology decreases productivity (and increases frustration) by making employees have to work harder to accomplish a given task. And the knowledge that better ways to accomplish a task exist—but aren’t being implemented—decreases morale. Plus, frustrated employees tend to look elsewhere, taking knowledge (that they learned at your expense) with them. Hence, companies have to keep hiring and training new people, costing extra money over and over again.

Companies that adopt and use new technology not only get increases in productivity but also gain happier employees and reduced training costs—all of which pay dividends over time.

However, Forbes notes there can be some benefits to sticking with one vendor: “In fairness, there can be benefits to vendor lock-in. Going all-in with a single vendor may allow you to simplify things and become more agile, potentially achieving better quality as single-vendor solutions are often better integrated.” So if you’ve found a vendor with a cutting-edge technology stack that’s affordable and agnostic, great! If not, you might face vendor lock-in down the line.

5 Ways to Avoid Legacy Lock-in

If you’re looking at adopting new technology, here are a few ways to avoid the negative aspects of lock-in:

  1. Avoid knowledge-based lock-in: Consider hiring IT professionals who have experience using different vendors, instead of training your staff on one platform; if you ever decide to switch, your team will need to relearn a whole new system.
  2. Consider subscription-based platforms: Going month-to-month gives you more flexibility, but keep in mind, that your costs might be higher.
  3. Align with open-source standards: To switch vendors easily, your IT workloads should support non-proprietary alternatives, meaning no application is platform-specific.  
  4. Implement a multi-cloud strategy: Many companies rely on two or more public clouds, as many as 89 percent according to Flexera; with multiple clouds, you have multiple vendors and can balance workloads between clouds as needed.  
  5. Use DevOps tools and processes: Containerization helps isolate software from its environment; DevOps helps maximize code portability and makes it easier to deploy to different environments.

TIBCO Can Help You Overcome Legacy Barriers

Many companies continue to stick with a vendor and its outdated technology even though it lacks the scalability and functionality needed to support a modern mobile and global workforce. If you’re already locked in, you can use open, app-agnostic vendors to help modernize your technology stack. TIBCO is technology agnostic and can quickly increase your existing products and services’ value with improved capabilities.

Have an expensive, unruly data warehouse? Consider TIBCO Data Virtualization to virtually integrate data from multiple sources.

Need help connecting to your private or public clouds? TIBCO Cloud Integration is designed to provide self-service integration capabilities that empower anyone to quickly and easily connect information assets no matter where they are.

The options are endless. Contact us today to get started.

This blog was originally published by Peter Crosby on 5/13/2014.