September 18, 2020

4 minutes

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IT mistakes over the decade and how to avoid them

Over the past decade, what mistakes have been made in the IT industry and how have we learnt from them? How can we avoid these mistakes in the future?

Failed IT projects, especially in large-scale enterprises, rarely escape the notice of the press. However, these mistakes are not unique to these large organisations. Below, we look at the most common mistakes that have been made in the IT industry over the past decade, and ask what the industry has learnt from these mistakes and what can be done to avoid repeating them?

3 Common IT industry mistakes:

1. Technology driven, not customer led:

There is no surprise that there has been a recent emphasis on “customer-first” initiatives. Why? Too often, development has been driven by technology rather than the needs or requirements of the end-user. This may have stemmed from the desire of IT teams to investigate the “art of the possible” with new technology. It may be that they believe they know what clients want; or need to address immediate business concerns. Such concerns may be “burning platforms” or dwindling profit margins. However, the most successful solutions, and therefore businesses, are those that directly meet the needs of the customer.

For a recent example of technology-led (rather than customer-led development), we need look no further than the recent mass development of Coronavirus-related apps.  In a short space of time, apps were built worldwide trying to identify individuals testing positive for the virus and tracking the contact that they have had with others. These apps were built to address an immediate need; however, many suffered low uptake due to concerns surrounding their personal information such as location or credit card transaction data.

If we look to another industry, such as the insurance market, only 47% of UK consumers believe that technology is used to improve customer experience and fewer than 40% believe that it is used to reduce their insurance premiums or improve the quality of service. In fact, this digital insurer report highlights that “service is seen as a hygiene factor and of lower priority than investment returns and pricing.”

Despite this, there is a positive move towards improving customer experience. Nearly half of all companies say improving customer experience and customer satisfaction are the leading influences to start a digital transformation.

2. Following the latest development craze:

Technology has advanced considerably over the past ten years. This has led to a rise in new tools, frameworks and platforms for businesses to choose from. But with this, comes the trap of falling for the lure of the latest “shiny” technology rather than reviewing the key benefits that it will bring. These technologies may be quickly usurped by others or fall out of favour with users, vendors and the wider community.

Microsoft’s Silverlight, for example, is an application framework similar to Adobe Flash for writing and running rich internet applications that stream multimedia, graphics and animations. Unfortunately, web pages using this technology did not work on the Windows Phone or Windows Mobile versions of IE. As early as 2011, there were predictions that the solution wouldn’t succeed. Four years later, development ceased and support will finally be terminated in October 2021.

What can we learn from this? Whilst choosing the right technology for your platform is difficult, businesses need to avoid pinning all their hopes and endeavours in a new, single technology – as its future success is unknown. To mitigate this risk, businesses can either wait to see what uptake the technology might have or ensure that their development plans take into account future obsolescence.

3. Choosing the wrong delivery approach:

Many organisations have tried a “big bang” approach to achieve their digital transformation, looking to deliver the entire modernised platform at launch. The downside to this approach (and highlighted in our previous point) is that, due to the length of time taken to prepare the whole system and the speed of change in IT before the system goes live, the technology may have already become outdated, unsupported or proven unsuitable before “go-live”.

The public sector is under pressure to overhaul large, highly complex systems whilst addressing growing expectations, “wicked problems” and providing uninterrupted services. As a result, many public sector organisations, such as those in healthcare and government, have fallen into this category.

To avoid this, organisations have now started to employ microservices and a distributed architecture that enables them to develop and release parts of their new system into production. This mitigates the risk whilst also delivering faster benefits and Return On Investment. Together with systems such as Kubernetes which automates the deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications, organisations can rapidly scale whilst avoiding the mistakes of the past.

If your organisation is carrying out a technology project or multi-year technology programme and require support, Jumar provides a range of consultancy and development services.  For more information, contact us.