When buying new technology, are you looking to the future or shackled to the past?
Many executives make the mistake of being swayed by software systems of their past. And it’s an easy mistake to make. If you know a brand, you are more likely to trust it.
It’s less risky, right?
Not exactly. Just because the vendor has been around for a long time doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for your future goals. Nor does it mean it’s the safest option.
In fact, buying the past can hold you back and even create unnecessary risk to your organisation.
It comes down to the lifecycle of obsolescence.
Every piece of software – legal or otherwise – travels through a lifecycle with four stages:
1. Development: The software is developed, marketed, adopted or sold. There may be a pilot stage where the software still has some small glitches or limited features. Innovators who take a chance on software at this stage will likely play a role in the big features that get added next.
2. Growth: Awareness of the software grows, it becomes more reliable and enters a growth phase. Sales accelerate, and there may be more updates and features added.
3. Maturity: Peak sales are reached for the software, they are the tried, tested, and trusted solution for most of the industry. Ongoing support for the software continues but major updates and feature additions typically slow down or stop.
4. Decline: Sales go down, either because there’s no longer any real need for the software, a new competitor is offering something better, or the needs of users have changed.
No matter how brilliant that software was at the start, by the time it reaches the fourth stage and is in decline, the vendor no longer needs to keep producing or supporting it.
There’s only one way the software can go from here.
First, it reaches End of Sale, meaning the vendor no longer sells the software.
Then, ultimately, it reaches End of Life (EOL).
Is End of Life really as ominous as it sounds?
In short, yes.
EOL means technical support and bug fixes will stop, online support documentation or forums may be archived or removed entirely, official training may no longer be available…you get the gist.
Ultimately, this means your legacy software – the technology that has been so reliable until now – becomes a risk to the business. The business will face compliance issues, security vulnerabilities, and lower IT flexibility, amongst other issues.
Avoid risk. Look to the future.
Looking to the future doesn’t mean you need to use a crystal ball to predict the next ground-breaking innovations or super-cool tech start-ups.
Think about it like this:
What you are buying is not the technology but a future relationship with that tech vendor.
Don’t get us wrong, the solution still needs to be one that satisfies your requirements. But focus on the vendor. What is their future potential as your partner? What value will they bring when solving your business challenges now and into the future?
To answer that, ask these questions when vetting tech partners:
- How many game-changing features did they ship last year?
- What is their roadmap for the future?
- How much have they increased their R&D budget in the last two years?
Now, consider a SaaS partner.
Buying SaaS means you are not only buying the millions of dollars’ worth of R&D that the tech vendor has already invested, but also the millions of dollars they will continue to invest over time.
This is a far more compelling proposition than either buying software built by a law firm that never gets updated, or getting your IT department to build you something bespoke, which will demand resources for continuous maintenance and updates.
Over to you
The reality is software vendors of the past aren’t meeting future needs. The pace of innovation in technology is accelerating fast, yet the innovation that used to come out of big software companies isn’t keeping up. And software customers also risk falling behind the competition if they tie business operations to a sinking software-vendor ship. Looking to the future, not only of the technology but the vendor itself, is a sure-fire way to reduce risk and take your firm into a brave new world.
Interested in learning more about legal transformation? Learn about current trends, measuring and communicating legal value and how legal leaders are building influence within their organisations. You can also speak with one of our Legal Transformation Consultants: