Is the Technology Running Your Website Obsolete?

In the last few months we have had to push a number of very small tweaks and bug fixes. This is not that uncommon as anyone who works with software code knows. But what’s interesting about these fixes is none of them were because of things that we broke or didn’t build properly. One problem was caused by a change at Apple, another by a change at Google and the third was because of Facebook. We had three large technology companies change things in their systems that broke minor things in ours.

As we rushed to make changes and push out fixes for each of these we took a little bit of time to reflect on the reality of the situation. I think there are important reminders and lessons that anyone responsible for technology can take away from our encounters.

Software is Always Going Obsolete

We have all heard that you lose the most value in your car the moment you drive it off the lot. Once it’s not perceived as new then it is instantly less valuable. I don’t think the exact same idea holds in the technology world, but it is pretty close. There is always a new laptop, smart phone, gaming device or whatever else coming out in the next few months that is faster, has more memory or a new and better operating system on it. This is just the nature of the beast that is technology.

In an analogy for our mapping platform the first version of our software was completely written and operating in Flash. We made the change a number of years ago to get our whole system and all customers out of Flash and into HTML5. There are many reasons Flash is a bad idea for web development today. And we also didn’t always have a mobile or Facebook version of our platform. Those have all evolved to make sure that we don’t become obsolete.

Fixes, Updates and Maintenance Are the Required Norm

This second idea really is an extension of the first. You have probably heard the saying “If you’re not growing, then you’re dying.” The more you think about this quote the more things you can apply it to like software development. Now I don’t think that growing always means your code base is getting larger because there will come a time when things get removed or completely changed, but the point is that with the rapid change of technology your knowledge of technology has to always be growing.

Pulling from our previous example, if we were still developing in Flash then we probably would be a dying or at least not growing company. Our relevance and value to the market would be diminishing. The same holds true for my other examples in adding mobile and Facebook. Just as five years ago we didn’t demand a phone that had a powerful web browser, could stream music and take great pictures. This sort of functionality is now the minimum barrier to entry for anyone considering a smart phone.

Technology is Always Speeding Ahead

This final lesson is probably the biggest one we have learned these last few months. If you aren’t staying up to date then you will get left behind. In each of our recent fixes related to Apple, Google and Facebook I don’t even think it was so much that we became obsolete, as that each of those companies found an improved way to make their browser or website work. By constantly innovating they cause some pieces to break. Because we are the David to their Goliath we have to keep up or our products will not work properly.

The Final Lesson

Updating, maintaining and fixing all have costs. For the most part, in the software world this cost is defined as time. It takes time to write or replace code. One of the greatest benefits of a platform like ours that works on the Software as a Service (SaaS) model is that we handle the updating, maintaining and fixing of the technology for you. Ultimately we look at it as a responsibility to provide this because if we aren’t consistently adding new value then you should leave us.

So think about the various technologies running your website. How often are you updating them to stay relevant? How have you added new functionality and features over time? Has your website become obsolete?