The Prisoner's Dilemma
Delivering the future while neglecting the pass is a recipe for eventual failure.
The pace of technological change is accelerating, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for IT organizations to keep up with the latest developments. This is particularly true for organizations with significant technical debt. Technical debt refers to the accumulation of outdated or inefficient technology that can lead to increased costs, slower processes, and higher security risks. In such cases, IT organizations may find that they have painted themselves into a corner, unable to make progress on new initiatives because they are spending all their time taking care of what is already in place, or far worse, neglecting what is already in place to deliver the next “critical business initiative”. This article explores the challenges of advancing cyber security in such organizations and what can be done to address the problem.
One of the main challenges of advancing cyber security in organizations with significant technical debt is that these organizations are often behind the curve in implementing new security measures let alone maintaining the old ones. The technology landscape is constantly evolving, and new threats are emerging all the time. Unfortunately, technical debt can make it difficult to keep up with these changes. IT organizations may be so focused on keeping the lights on that they have little time or resources left to address the latest security threats.
To address these challenges, organizations need to stop digging the hole deeper. They must acknowledge the problem of technical debt, quantify it, and then develop and manage a plan to reduce it. This means investing in modernizing and updating systems and infrastructure, which may require significant upfront costs. However, the long-term benefits of improved security and stability far outweigh the initial investment.
Shifting the paradigm from short-term business technology priorities to long-term business survival in the face of cyber threats is crucial. By acknowledging the reality of their situation, companies can work their way out of the hole that they have dug themselves into by devoting just enough resources to keeping the lights on, and investing their spare capacity in reducing their tech debt through retirement/replacement of obsolete systems, applications, and technology. Only the most business-critical new initiatives should be undertaken in this environment in order to keep the focus on repairing the foundation before adding the next story to the building.
The phrase, “Pay me now, or pay me more later” is never more relevant than it is in the world of technology, considering the rapid pace of technological evolution and obsolescence. Companies would be wise to heed it before they find out just how deep the hole they are in really is.
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