What does a comic masterpiece from the 1930’s has got to do with retirement technology? How does the life of a tramp caught up in the inescapable machinery of the industrial revolution apply to record keeping systems? The answer may not be obvious at first. In fact, it may not even be obvious the second time or even the third time. That is until you are given with the unenviable task of evaluating your technology platform and modernizing the critical components of it.
The answers at first seem simple, but once the details are established, the complexity of the task in hand begins to emerge. Some recognize it but many others don’t see it. They embark on a 3-year journey thinking it is a 6-month trip. Some bring in consulting firms who after a long evaluation period, come up with what they already know; It’s going to be painful and expensive. But more and more recordkeeping firms are postponing the inevitable or worse they embark on an ambitious journey to modernize their code but end up putting together an elaborate Band-Aid.
It takes many years for Recordkeeping software to mature, to be ready for production and to be embraced in the market. So by the time a “new” product hits the industry, the underlying technology is probably 5 to 10 years old, if not more. Changing business landscape, adjusting the platform for new client requirements, keeping up with the government regulations are some of the top priorities. Rewrite and modernization are low in the pecking order. However, technology departments in most recordkeeping shops will now have to contend with their aging systems, as newer Hardware and Software infrastructure no longer support them.
Recently at a user conference, one of the newer software providers were show casing their product. It had all the bells and whistles of the new-age technology. The ease of managing adjustments, the rule based engines, seamless integration with cloud-based systems; etc. But the presenter was asked by one of the prospective clients. “Why should we take the risk of buying your product? What makes you think the risk is worthwhile?” To which the presenter went on about risk assessment and how they are building a roadmap for it. A better response would have been, “The risk is much lesser than staying on your existing 25 year old platform.”
The challenges and the need for modernization is real and we will examine different perspectives in a series of blogs titled “Modern Times”. We are certainly not making any comparisons to the tramp, but merely drawing parallels with the journey of that poor soul as he navigates through this sometimes inscrutable array of emerging technologies. Maybe these snippets will provide some insights that managers can relate to within their own firms. They may or may not be helpful but at the very least, should provide a brief relief to that poor manager who is bent out shape by the workings of the machinery called Retirement Recordkeeping System!