Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Technical Debt

Love this from Gartner. "Gartner Estimates Global 'IT Debt' to Be $500 Billion This Year, with Potential to Grow to $1 Trillion by 2015".

NetworkWorld ran a quicky version of the story. Gartner: Global 'IT debt' hits $500 billion, on the way to $1 trillion.

ComputerWorld -- to be proper journalists -- have to get a balancing quote. Their version of the story is this: Gartner warns of app maintenance 'debt'. The balancing quote is the following:
"There are many good reasons to NOT upgrade/modernize many applications, and I believe Gartner is out of line using words like 'debt' which have guilt associated with them,"
"Guilt"? That's a problem? Why are we pandering to an organization's (i.e., CIO's) emotional response?

I'm not sure that using a word like "debt" is a problem. Indeed, I think they should ramp up the threat level on this and add words like "short-sighted" and "daft" and perhaps even "idiotic".

Anyone who doesn't believe (or doesn't understand) technical debt needs only to review the Y2K plans and budgets. A bad technology decision lead to a mountain of rework. Yes, it was all successful, but it made IT budgeting difficult for years afterwords.

The rest of the organization was grumpy about having their projects were stalled until after Y2K. IT created it's own problems by letting the technology debt accumulate to a level where it was "fix or face an unacceptable risk of not being able to stay in business."

How many other latent Y2K-like problems are companies ignoring?