The Cost of Tech Debt: 48% of Orgs Have Suffered a Cybersecurity Incident Due to Legacy Technology

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Kodie Dower      

It’s no secret that the last year was one of the most disruptive and consequential periods for business all around the world. Businesses that survived, or even thrived, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic can likely point to big investments in technology as their vehicle for success. However, even though digital transformation initiatives are at peak demand, managing holdover legacy technology could be slowing innovation and creating more cybersecurity risks.

In NinjaOne’s new report on IT technical debt, we found the cost of managing legacy technology to exceed $25,000 a year. While IT teams are growing in number, demanding more budget, and contributing in meaningful ways to creating business value, the maintenance of aging and outdated IT hardware should be viewed as a key roadblock to continued growth. The new report, Global IT Technical Debt in 2021: How Legacy Technology Threatens Post-Pandemic Growth, surveyed 1,000 IT decision-makers in the US, UK, Australia, Germany, and France to better understand the impact of technology debt among IT teams.

IT Modernization is Essential for Greater Impact

The impact of IT is widely felt throughout most organizations. In the survey, IT leaders said IT’s ability to increase the efficiency of other departments and stay compliant with security and regulatory compliance were the most impactful aspects of IT. But for some, IT is seen as fundamental to the business itself — 44% say it helps them deliver products faster and 34% say it’s a key differentiator for the business.

IT modernization is a priority for IT decision-makers, and for good reason — about one in five report their hardware and software is more than 10 years old. Nearly half of respondents (48%) indicated their organization had a cybersecurity incident due to insecure legacy technology. 

Outdated technology and unpatched applications are frequently exploited by cybercriminals and represent a serious threat IT leaders should take seriously. Despite this, respondents have positive outlooks on their organization’s ability to manage tech debt and modernize their IT environments. In the last year, nearly three-quarters of respondents say their IT budgets increased, and more than half hired more IT professionals. 

From the report, we learned that the biggest drivers of IT tech debt inside organizations were outdated IT infrastructure and obsolete technology. Following that, a lack of IT documentation was cited as a driver of technology debt. Proper documentation of IT infrastructure, update policies, and special procedures are all needed to make technology management easier and prevent downtime due to misconfigurations. Respondents also stated the biggest challenge to maintaining legacy technology were managing new and existing security vulnerabilities, and staying compliant with security and data privacy regulations. 

Outdated Technology Hurts Efficiency and the Bottom Line

Aging hardware is a widely felt issue. Nearly half of respondents note that their organization users hardware and software that is more than 5 years old. And about one in five admit that on average, their hardware and software is 11-20 years old. When it comes to technology that’s critical to the business 19% rely on technology that is more than 10 years old, and 4% are using software that is at least 20 years old. That’s an eternity in tech and depending on the devices and software being used, they could be leaving money on the table when it comes to increasing efficiency. 

Legacy IT technology can be a serious drain on organizational resources and lead to bloated budgets. On average, organizations spent approximately 17 hours per week just maintaining legacy technology, accounting for nearly 42.5% of a typical 40-hour workweek. With the average global salary of an IT specialist at $61,200, maintaining legacy technology can cost organizations more than $25,000 a year.

Paying Down Tech Debt

Just like financial debt, IT technology debt needs to be properly managed to work for the business. Some technical debt may be too costly to modernize right away, but even small steps, like transitioning from on-premise software to cloud-based software, can deliver dramatic efficiency gains in a short amount of time. Managed services providers are key players with no lack of experience in this area, and a resource that even businesses with internal IT teams can call on. 

As a cloud-native, multi-tenant solution, NinjaOne can be used to help improve IT management and reduce tech debt by replacing traditional on-prem software and offering a single solution for monitoring and management, backups, and IT documentation. Learn more at https://www.ninjaone.com/ or download the full report here. 

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