Monday, 6 April 2009

Good old CICS and COBOL

Many of the meetings that I’m involved in with the different organizations that I deal with revolve around the benefits of some new piece of technology, and how an organization can take financial advantage of that new piece of hardware or that new software. Once the costs of the new technology have been estimated and it has been bought and installed, its value never becomes an issue again, and, over time, becomes forgotten about.

Similar findings came out of a Micro Focus survey in 2007. Worryingly, the survey’s results indicated that less than half of the sites polled had made any attempt to put a value their IT assets. It also found that 60 percent were unaware of what their software was worth!

The most recent Micro Focus research report – Safeguarding the Corporate IT Assets – points to the fact that, despite business leaders stating that skills to modernize core IT assets are the most valuable in a recession, global organizations are failing to plan for the essential skills required to manage and maintain these systems. The report suggests to businesses that, even in tougher times, they must remain focused on recruiting and developing professionals with the right skills to evolve core IT assets into the future.

The survey was carried out in September 2008, with 450 respondents across France, Germany, Italy, UK, and USA to discover what their organizations are doing to maintain and develop their IT systems.

The survey results showed that organizations are sitting on a what Micro Focus call a potential ‘ticking timebomb’ because of a failure to guarantee the evolution of the IT systems that are most important to the success of business operations. These are the core systems that have probably been in place for many years, but are considered by those polled to continue to deliver value to the business on a daily basis. When asked, both the IT and Finance departments confirmed that it was their core IT assets – their core systems and databases, which run on the likes of COBOL and CICS – which are the most critical to the successful execution of their business operations. They were rated as 15% more critical than ERP and CRM and 20% more so than newer Web 2.0 social networking technologies.

The survey concludes that global organizations are not devoting enough time, budget, and commitment to safeguarding the vital skills required to maintain and exploit their IT – a crucial business asset. Without this asset they would fail to function, yet they run the risk of insufficient resources to maintain and evolve core IT systems, potentially causing irreparable damage to the business.

Not surprisingly, the conclusion that the Micro Focus survey came to was that organizations should modernize their existing IT systems. The report also suggests that businesses need to tell educational institutions what skills they need, as opposed to the latter telling the former what sort of skills they can provide. Failure to develop the vital skills required to manage and maintain core IT systems could lead to the failure of major businesses long-term.

The full report will be published later this week.

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