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Unleashing Tech Innovation: Transforming Technical Debt into Competitive Advantages

Technical debt and emerging technologies

Typically, the term technical debt is used to define and regroup shortcuts and workaround during software and platforms developments and even maintenance, potentially leading to long-term issues with regular software maintenance and, mostly, scalability.

Just to give a dimension to the readers without IT skills, it is helpful to distinguish technical debt based on the reasons why they have been generated:

Deliberately undertaken: issues or needs for delivery related to time constraints, no budget available

Inadvertently undertaken: when architectures are poorly designed and developed, with low skills and experience.

The cases below, which many of you will recognise and also remember, can give a better view of these kinds of issues and their impact:

  • LinkedIn, As for the platform’s initial development, shortcuts and temporary solutions in the initial social media stages created issues when LI registered a surge in new users. They undertook “Project Inversion” to solve these issues and improve performance.

  • Microsoft Windows. Their Windows operating system, during the years, went through a massive codebase and legacy elements that ended in a relevant technical debt. This required delivering more regular and fractioned upgrades. ( we know this, right?)

  • Twitter faced technical debt issues when their inflexible application, known as the “Monorail,” became difficult to manage and scale. A similar approach to MS was used when they had to break down the Monorail into smaller parts, always looking at better performances and scalability.

The bottom line is that technical debt means poor and inappropriate code quality. And this can undermine Digital solutions implementations. Other technical and IT issues and applications can be affected, too, with negative or poor performances and even security risks. However, it is relevant to understand the other strategic and design opportunities for companies to achieve competitive advantages and highlight additional elements which need to be considered in a Business case for RPA and Low-No-code solutions.

How can emerging technologies be of help in the Digital Transformation Journey?

RPA, for IT, can automate repetitive, manual tasks to fix technical issues (testing and deployment), reducing errors and saving time and effort. Most of all, avoiding the potential and related obstacles of old infrastructures to integrating legacy systems with RPA itself and Digital solutions and free resources for other technical implementations related to Digital transformation. ( see next)

Citizen developers’ capabilities, through low or no-code applications, represent an alternative way to avoid the cumulation of technical debt. They are pre-built templates, components and workflows, which can, within some boundaries, be personalised, avoid the issue of development on the fly and facilitate the analysis and development of new smart processes among developers, business analysts or citizen developers. ( employees).

Without adventuring into the methodologies and tools to qualify and quantify technical debt, what is crucial highlighting is that for RPA and Citizen developers, the connections are evident:

  • RPA will indubitably free employees from tedious, repetitive tasks and with an appropriate and focused upskill strategy, they can dedicate a more profitable time to DT initiatives.

  • Low and No-code solutions will require time from free resources, and they will be directed to improve customer orientation and direction without finding roadblocks in the IT activity, speeding up time-to-market and enhancing customer service, already improved with RPA.

This is why, when we speak about RPA, L-N Code and Citizen developers, we recommend adopting a holistic view of what tech issues and opportunities can be and making the choices with a strategic vision and subsequent planning when we think about how to exploit the company’s competitive advantages with Digital transformation.


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