Are you too busy ‘keeping the lights on’ to innovate?
‘Keeping the lights on’ is the term used to better explain the enormous amount of time and resources spent by
IT teams to just keep technology running on a daily basis. This can become overwhelming, especially when
dealing with aging or legacy systems that over time become increasingly riddled with bugs. Time spent by an
inhouse software development team fighting fire often outweighs the amount of time working on new
innovative projects or bringing about digitisation in some cases.
According to an IDG Connect survey in 2018, the majority of IT leaders (56%) agree that more energy and
attention is directed into maintaining strong operations rather than innovative business initiatives (33%). More
than 300 IT decision makers surveyed all agreed that innovation was on the backburner. Respondents
reported tasks like lowering IT spending (50%) and supporting business processes (41%) took priority over
strategic innovation (28%) and training staff on IT security (23%).
Beyond simply not having the resources to dedicate to new projects there are also underlying skills gaps. Such
as the pace of technological development that finding those with the experience in new emerging
technologies like building cloud-based applications in a microservices architecture, are hard to come by. Even
those with over twenty years’ experience may not have been able to keep up with the pace of change – and
keeping-the-lights-on often means that there isn’t time to learn new things – personal development is on the
Many of the CTO’s that we speak to suggest that they barely have time to focus on their actual job role having
been internally recruited to help the business digitally transform whilst constantly trying to deal with legacy
issues. In this scenario, what happens to innovation? It’s not overly dramatic to suggest that a failure to
innovate in our digital world can result in commercial obscurity. There are many high street names that have
gone due to their failure to innovate and move with change – Blockbuster, Woolworths, HMV – to name just a
CTO’s face a plethora of other industry issues too such as finding and retaining talent, keeping abreast of the
looming IR35 legislation and assessing the competition – all of which work to derail them from their innovative
priorities. As globalisation and digital native startups threaten incumbent players, the need to re-balance and
liberate inhouse developers from ‘keeping-the-lights-on’ becomes more critical. Thinking ahead of the curve
rather than obsessing over the daily tech challenges should be the priority of a CTO. IT is no longer a support
function – it is the basis of competitive advantage.
Working with an organisation like Godel, senior software developers have the skills and knowledge to remove
the daily tasks from the to-do list of the inhouse team freeing them up to innovate and digitally transform the
business. Removing that focus on legacy issues has a positive effect on the team as they are also presented
with more opportunities to work on exciting projects and develop their skills further. Overall, working with an
outsourced partner means that your business can compete faster, more efficiently and cost-effectively,
working with senior developers whilst keeping its inhouse team happier. A win all round.