Innovation, Budget

Imagine that, after a financially stressful 2016, you pledge that 2017 will be different.

New year, new me.

In keeping with your New Year’s resolution, you sit down to look a good, hard look at your household finances. You discover that you can pay your bills, keep a roof over your head, clothe and feed yourself, but that’s it.

There’s no cash in the pot to do anything fun, buy anything new, nor any room for the kind of self-improvement that might land you a better-paying job.

You’re trapped in a vicious circle where you don’t have the time or the energy to do anything that might save either time or energy.

This situation mirrors much of the enterprise IT budgeting process that goes on at this time of the year. Huge enterprise budgets are being carved up, but large swathes of these are allocated to BAU. 70, 80, even 90 percent of budgets goes towards keeping systems running as they were last year. Software licensing, infrastructure costs, operational costs, BAU staff costs...all are spoken for by the first of January - just to keep things ticking along.  


You’re trapped in a vicious circle where you don’t have the time or the energy to do anything that might save either time or energy."

In most cases, these decisions will be defensible on paper, because those systems continue to have positive return on investment. It’s seems obvious that investing £Xm in running a platform or business process is a good idea if it returns £Xm+Ym in revenue. 

But, in reality, you’re slowly slipping behind. Because whilst things today seem fine, you’re locking yourself into a path that leads only downwards in the long term.



The problem is that the world isn’t static.

Whilst you are standing still in your current steady - and even profitable - state, the world outside is improving and moving on.  

As is the way of the world, new, more efficient tools, approaches and innovations are being developed that are much more effective and efficient.

Automation, Continuous Integration and Delivery, public cloud...these tools and practices can increase speed and agility hundred-fold, whilst saving millions, but require a sharp expenditure of effort and energy to get rolling. Energy that organisations that are overwhelmed with keeping the legacy lights on struggle to find.

No thanks - we are too busy.png

The kicker is that your competitors are adopting those innovations and efficiencies. And they are striding ahead with fundamental, strategic improvements to their business, even though you are very busy and - from the inside - seem to be maintaining your position.

Breaking out of the straitjacket of legacy

The pressure to undergo a digital transformation is rising as the business case for DevOps-style working practices and the cloud begins to verge on the insurmountable.

And companies need to much more aggressively invest in change, transformation and innovation.

But to do this, you almost first need to invest in reducing the cost of legacy systems to break out of the straitjacket of legacy.

Ask yourself some honest questions.

Why aren’t your legacy or heritage systems becoming easier and cheaper to run? What improvements are you overlooking? Where are the constraints? The inefficiencies?

Small, but effortful strategic changes - introducing new tools, migrating to new platforms, making changes to an inefficient system - can allow you to free up vital resources. Demonstrate small successes, and make the business case from there for a shift in emphasis towards innovation.

Over time, the effect of loosening yourself even slightly from the legacy straitjacket snowballs, as the innovation projects themselves generate better ROI than your legacy systems, allowing for more and more investment in transformative change.

  • Benjamin Wootton

    Co-Founder and CTO

    Benjamin Wootton is the Co-Founder and CTO, EMEA of Contino. He has worked with tens of enterprise organisations on DevOps transformation and is a hands-on DevOps engineer with expertise in cloud and containers.

    More Articles by Benjamin