A future-proof approach to IT sprawl? It starts with looking to the past

At the close of the 19th century, there were nearly 11,000 hansom cabs operating in London. For every hansom cab, figure one horse. For every horse, calculate anywhere between 15 and 35 pounds of manure a day. The weekly total? Between 550 and 1,348 tons – all needing to be moved out of a densely populated city.

Inefficient, to say the least. Inevitably, manure began piling up on empty lots, spreading odor and disease. Things became so bad, The London Times predicted that in 50 years, every street in the city would be buried under nine feet of it.

Of course, that didn’t happen. In the panic of envisioning a city overrun by excrement, the prognosticators didn’t consider one important factor: continual development. By 1912, Henry Ford’s automobile – not horses – was the favored form of transportation. Thus, the problem was solved.

As IT leaders, we’re often faced with similar dire warnings. Act now or you’ll be buried under a deluge of data from which there is no recovery. Tame IT sprawl now or your systems will buckle under their disconnected weight. However, if the past has taught us anything, it’s that the future may be quite different than predicted.

So how do today’s IT leaders find ways to deal with increasing amounts of data without letting problems pile up?

Look for continual development

In searching for a content and information platform that can grow into the future and rein in IT sprawl, look to the past. How has the solution changed over time? What does the company invest in to ensure the solution continues to adapt and evolve? How often does the company update the solution?

Things will inevitably change after you implement any new software. The question is whether your partner will actively manage the altering landscape with you or not. The more the developer invests in the platform, the more your organization will be able to grow with it and better control the spread of system complexities.

Consider your user base

Cloud and mobile – not to mention millennials – have reshaped the face of the workforce. People work differently today than they did 20 years ago. Period.

Then there’s your company. It’s also transformed over the years, adding new users in some departments while perhaps shifting them away from others. When your user requirements evolve, what will it take to update your platform? Will the vendor need to be involved? What about developers?

The freedom to update your platform on your own terms, without lengthy or costly investments, will enable it to run more efficiently – adapting to future users while also minimizing data silos.

Ask if it’s the right fit

In the span of 20 years, horses were no longer the right fit for the city of London. Yet the underlying infrastructure, including roads and bridges, adapted to the new kind of horsepower.

In scrutinizing a content and information platform, consider how well it has worked within your industry over time. A platform that is already in place, in organizations of all sizes and diverse industries across the globe, is a good indicator of future success.

Do you have a future-proof foundation for addressing IT sprawl? Take our quiz to find out.

Bill Filion

Bill Filion

Bill Filion is the vice president of software development for Hyland. Bill manages all development of OnBase and sets the strategic vision for continuing the education, advancement and maturation of Hyland's development teams. When he joined Hyland in 1997 as a Senior Developer, Bill focused his development around the OnBase file I/O infrastructure, the database software layer, export/publishing and all facets of CD/DVD Authoring. In 2001, Bill was promoted to manager of the OnBase Thick Client Development team. Bill was promoted to Vice President of Development in 2006. Prior to joining Hyland, Bill worked as a software consultant in the Cleveland area for both CAP Gemini Sogeti and Compuware. He received his B.A. in Computer Science from Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio.

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