Aging Systems - Risks and Hidden Costs

No one is surprised when I try to draw every last ounce of value out of an asset or application.  I suspect you’re not much different, whether it’s your car, your PC or your phone.  In fact, assuming you have a dial tone, your phone system is probably near the bottom of the list of things you consider “end-of-life” and in need of replacement. Let’s be honest, we tend to take communications systems for granted because business phone systems are, what my colleague Jem calls, the “invisible technology” – they just work and therefore we don’t think much about them.

Incumbent communications systems age gracefully, quietly performing as expected beyond their anticipated life cycle, but age they do.  On the surface everything may seem to be in order, but legacy systems are vulnerable.  

Aging systems pose risks.  Many are subtle, some are not. Risks posed by an aging communication system can be divided into three types: Security threats, an inability to support new business requirements and system failures. 

 

Security threats

Your communications systems may not be the first thing you think about when someone mentions security. Yet, outdated security policies are as much a risk to your communications system as they are elsewhere. For this reason, aging Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems are prime targets for toll fraud, resulting in significant losses in a very short time. According to the eCommerce Times, toll-fraud is real and expensive, costing companies – most of them small or medium-sized businesses - more than US$4.7 billion a year, up nearly $1 billion from 2011.

 

New trends, processes and technologies

How much change has occurred since your business communications systems were purchased and deployed?  Now ask yourself how much your customer and employee behaviors have changed.  If your systems are less than three years old and your business has not changed significantly since that time, your communications enabled business processes (CEBP) are probably optimized, strategically aligned with your business model and most importantly, aligned with your customers’ expectations.  Congratulations, you are among a small minority. 

Business needs change and so do business models. Though more than adequate when deployed, your system may not be able to accommodate new standards or features – or even new users – and are not adapting easily to new mobility and contact center trends. 

While that may sound dire, it needn’t be.  Often, simple upgrades in licensing, system releases, or even hybrid-cloud overlays can quickly and cost effectively update your communications to meet evolving needs.  

 

System Failures

Nothing lasts forever. Left unmanaged, obsolescence is inevitable, or worse, it could result in a system failure.  As with any disaster plan, the goal is to be prepared by planning ahead because it is not a matter of “if” but rather “when.” The time needed to fix a failure increases as systems age, and becomes especially challenging if spare parts are no longer available. System downtime takes its toll both financially and on customer satisfaction.

 

Mitigating the risks

Every organization must adapt to market changes. They have to drive their success based on the products and services they use, but outdated and closed legacy application architectures act as a major barrier to benefiting the most from their applications, hurting business performance.

A successful enterprise addresses risk before it affects their bottom line. A recently published ALE whitepaper explains how organizations with aging communication systems can identify problems and act to avoid disruption and unplanned costs.  Proactively managed, a thorough analysis by internal stakeholders can identify internal and external problems, and provide a path for system transformation that mitigates risk and adapts as your business evolves. 

Identify the risks posed by outdated communications systems and minimize them now, because in business, surprises are rarely welcome.

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