Executives making substantial investments in new technology platforms and capabilities have a not-unreasonable expectation that their investments will have a lifespan of over a decade or more. This is particularly true for leaders of organizations whose businesses are not rooted in the constant change and turmoil of the technology industry.
Unfortunately, such reasonable expectations run counter to the reality of cycle times in the IT industry. Technologies come and go, become fashionable and then become irrelevant over periods as short as six months or a couple of years. Software and technology platforms, development tools and architectures are born, thrive and die – or are replaced – within a decade.
How then should we square the need for sustainable returns on new systems investments with the countervailing cycle of constant technology disruption?
The answer involves understanding three core concepts: iteration, abstraction and…Legos.