How Deprecated Tech Sinks the ROI of Your New Software

Written By: Trey Roady | 12/9/22

How Deprecated Tech Sinks the ROI of Your New Software

When you’re investing in new enterprise software, the last thing you want is for employees to ignore your new solution and stick to old habits. Today we’ll explain why old tech is so persistent and what you can do about it.

Imagine you’ve spent millions developing a state-of-the-art software experience for your organization. It’s versatile, easy to use and opens new levels of visibility into complex workflows. It feels like the future—and it’s here.

Several months after roll-out, though, all is not as you’d hoped.

You walk by Joanne’s desk. She’s a manager who’s been there forever, fearlessly adapting to challenges with calm and good humor. You talk a little shop, and you get a few gushing compliments on the new platform you’ve implemented. But as the topic rolls around to Joanne’s projects, you spy her old notebook with colored flags sticking out from all sides. It turns out that while she’s using your new platform for most current projects, her old methods persist—especially for older projects.

In short—your new tech isn’t being adopted as much as you’d hoped, even after the considerable investment you made selecting or building it.

So why is it that even someone who’s totally on-board with the new-and-improved method still persists in their familiar habits—and what does this mean for your organization?

Legacy & Deprecated Technology

"Legacy technology” is the old method or tool for performing a task. At ChaiOne, we regularly help clients transition their legacy systems with complete organizational digital change. This requires a rock-solid understanding of how problems were previously solved.

“Deprecated technology” describes legacy technology that’s no longer dominant in an organization but continues to enjoy dedicated supporters. There may be a new way to do things, but some folks choose the old way, despite its recognized flaws.

Why is deprecated technology so persistent?

People use tools for a variety of reasons: efficiency, comfort, cost, experience and even just familiarity; while the disposable ballpoint pen is in every single bank and doctor’s office, some people revel in a fountain pen’s ability to experiment with a variety of inks.

When transitioning from legacy technology, it’s not enough for a new product to be visionary. It must be a good match for the new business strategy and fill the essential needs of its users. Poor fit prevents your organization from fully realizing the benefits of your new software initiatives and can easily split your culture into siloed camps.

3 ways deprecated tech refuses to be replaced

  1. Users hold onto deprecated technology to fill critical gaps, even if they might otherwise prefer to use the new solution. One of our previous clients updated their old, .net-based tracking system to the web. While the web version was well received, many employees kept both versions because the .net version was better suited to data entry.

  2. Deprecated technology can continue to develop or crop back up, particularly as needs change. For instance, with greater emphasis on decarbonization in shipping and logistics, future cargo ships may incorporate old technology—sails in particular—to decrease fuel dependence.

  3. Deprecated technologies persist because they fill needs in a unique way. If usage is surprisingly sticky, it’s always a good idea to figure out why. If you’re making novel products, take a close look at their predecessors to see what aspects you might have overlooked.

We all want to build solutions that cause meaningful change, but unfortunately, most enterprise software projects fail due to low user adoption. And it’s not for lack of new approaches. More often, it’s due to a failure to learn from past solutions; look backward towards legacy solutions and workflows. Identify the most persistent features and behaviors so you can make use of the elements your users actually care about.

Remember that your new technology is competing with old solutions for limited time and attention. If your new tech can’t wipe out the competition, your adoption rate and ROI will never be where you want them to be.

Not sure how to successfully implement a new software solution guaranteed to have high user adoption? We're here to help you take the guesswork out.

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