People often complain that things today just aren’t built to last. Everything from cars to toasters, they will tell you, was manufactured better in the old days, and consumers expected to get many years of service from any item they considered a durable good.
Businesses tended to share this philosophy. Even today, there are companies that depreciate computers over five to seven years, depending on the method of depreciation. Given the rate at which computers have evolved, how many have a useful life that lasts longer than the depreciation schedule without major upgrades?
When it comes to software, the traditional thinking is even more dangerous. It is true that there was a time when a custom software could be expected to perform satisfactorily for five or even 10 years. That was before smartphones, the “Internet of Things,” wearable tech, laptops and tablets. With every new technology introduced, it became increasingly apparent that modifying the legacy system to handle a new device or platform was a time-consuming and costly experience.
There are still companies who have not grasped the reality that technology is changing so rapidly that software can be obsolete almost as soon as development and installation is completed. Many CIOs, however, have realized that adaptive sourcing provides a better solution.
What is Adaptive Sourcing?
CIOs who embrace adaptive sourcing accept that IT must be agile and able to offer IT solutions quickly in response to business opportunities and new technologies. Instead of “building to last,” they are “building to adapt.”
This approach typically requires an IT department that has two distinct modes. The first mode continues to handle the traditional elements of IT, while the second mode operates as an agile “innovation engine.” The bimodal approach allows for “business as usual” while quick solutions are found to new challenges.
Three elements are common when applying adaptive sourcing successfully:
- Personnel exhibit an innovative spirit, problem-solving abilities and a desire to provide business solutions while mitigating risk.
- Tools, processes and templates are reused whenever possible to reduce deployment time, mitigate risk or achieve desired goals.
- The use of security, risk and compliance gates are not used to slow the innovative process or halt adaptive strategies.
What are the Potential Consequences of Ignoring Adaptive Sourcing?
Companies that ignore advances in technology place themselves at a disadvantage. Companies that are willing to embrace technology, modernize their IT and adopt an attitude that welcome innovation will find better opportunities. They can be more competitive, nurture better customer relationships and grow their business. Companies who do not “build to adapt” face a number of consequences, but here are three of the most common ones.
- The best, most experienced members of the IT staff are more likely to leave to pursue other opportunities. Although exceptions exist, most IT professionals want the opportunity to innovate, acquire new skills, learn from more experienced peers and exercise their problem-solving abilities. When forced into a static, stale environment, these individuals frequently look for new positions that will allow them to expand their horizons. Furthermore, the company they left may have more difficulty attracting replacements with the same level of talent — people talk, and companies that get a reputation for having an obsolete approach to IT usually fall to the bottom of the list when it is time to send out resumes.
- The gap between the company and its competition will grow, and the distance will likely grow in a non-linear progression. Adaptive sourcing using readily available, innovative tools, such as crowdsourcing, gives companies the ability to leverage top-end experts from around the globe while reducing deployment time and development costs. Because innovation is a continuous process, having such resources allows the company to remain in the lead consistently.
- Companies without adaptive sourcing will have a field of vision that is far more limited than competitors who adopt the technology. It will be much more difficult to see what the competition is doing. Such companies are more prone to stagnation because it is impossible to adapt without knowing to what they should be adapting.
Adaptive sourcing represents change, and change is seldom accomplished without some level of resistance or the need to overcome at least one challenge. However, the benefits of adaptive sourcing far outweigh any difficulties that might be faced — and will ultimately prove more comfortable than facing the consequences of ignoring the concept.