I really think that businesses have two basic ways of thinking about business software and technology. Either it is a glorified typewriter and bookkeeping system or it is a strategic asset that will help reach goals.
Most businesses say it is the latter (a stairway to their goals). Think with me for a minute about that, though. Some of the very same businesses that would agree with the idea that ERP and operational software is a strategic asset would also admit that their software is 10, 15, or perhaps 20 years old. Some companies we’ve worked with have software that still forms a critical core of their business processes that is older than this.
Twenty years ago, overnight delivery was in its infancy. The internet was not yet widely known. In fact, many small and mid-sized businesses still kept books manually.
A car that is 20 years old (say 1992 model) might or might not have air bags. Until 10 years ago, most low-end vehicles didn’t have airbags as a standard feature. Ten years ago, most cars sold did have airbags, but second-generation airbags (the kind that don’t break bones and cause internal injuries) weren’t mandated on cars until 1998.
Here’s the bottom line: a computer system that’s even 10 years old is out of date. A business that believes it is taking advantage of the newest and the best that has a computer system that old is kidding itself.
It’s interesting that most businesses we work with that have old ERP, accounting, or operational software systems also want to revise their processes. They recognize that their business software is holding them back. Perhaps they’re worried about the Gladys Principle. Or maybe there is another reason.
So I ask you: Why do businesses do this to themselves? One reason is cost. Ok. I understand that. But as someone said about education, “If you think education costs a lot, you should try ignorance.”
Another reason is simpler than most businesses will admit: inertia — “A body in motion tends to stay in motion in a straight line until acted upon by an outside force.” Change is hard. Sorry. It is in our DNA.