End of life software: What’s the risk?

End of life software: What’s the risk?

Running your business on supported software, ERP or otherwise, is extremely important. Failing to do so, can have severe consequences - from security and productivity to compliance violations.

Nothing lasts forever… not even cold November rain. So goes the classic song from the American hard rock band Guns N’ Roses. And it applies to the world of IT too.

Technology, as we know, is ever-changing, both the hardware and the software behind it as well. Whether it is a simple software such as an antivirus used by millions of individuals or a more sophisticated one like an ERP solution used by several companies, it is but inevitable that these solutions will one day be obsolete, outdated, and go unsupported.

Take the example of Microsoft Dynamics AX, an ERP solution with a history that dates back to a couple of decades. While mainstream support for two of its existing three versions have already ended, the latest version is also set to witness the same on 12th October 2021.

So, what do you do when you are faced with such a scenario? Well, broadly speaking you have two options:

  • Continue running on the unsupported software OR
  • Upgrade to a newer supported software

While the first option could save you money, at least in the short term, the perils of running on an unsupported software are significant enough to make you think if the holdout is worth risking.

Let’s elaborate on some of the top risks you could face if you continue to run on unsupported software:

  • Lack of security updates – This is the most devastating of them all. Once support ends, you stop receiving the latest updates and security patches, making your systems more vulnerable to data breaches by malware and ransomware. Considering data is the new gold, imagine the loss you could incur if your company or customer data reaches the wrong hands.
    According to Security Intelligence, a company that empowers professionals to prove compliance, grow business, and stop threats, a person is more likely to experience a data breach of at least 10,000 records (27.9 percent) than catch the flu in the winter (5–20 percent, according to WebMD). Now that is something to worry about!
    And here are more numbers to baffle you. An IBM study says that the average total cost per data breach worldwide in 2019 stood at $3.92 million (the US had the most expensive average of $8.64 million) with 280 days being the average time taken to identify and contain a breach.

Curiosity leads us down new paths

One is more likely to experience a data breach than catch the flu in winter (WebMD)
  • Potential compliance violations – All businesses, irrespective of the industry or geography they operate in, have to follow regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) - on data protection and privacy. This is to ensure that businesses do not put at risk, the data they hold, be it sensitive information like credit card numbers and bank details or even personal information such as birth dates and residential addresses.
    By continuing to run on unsupported software, you are increasing your chances of a data breach, which in turn increases your risks of breaking such laws and regulations, leading to heavy fines and penalties.
  • Customer litigation - There are instances of companies facing lawsuits from customers for failing to protect their data. This has led to millions of dollars in settlements and legal fees.
    Like Walmart, the American multinational retail corporation. A Bloomberg report says that Walmart is currently facing a data-breach suit under California’s privacy law, for failing to protect customer data from an alleged hack. While Walmart is disputing the plaintiff’s allegations, if proven guilty of being incapable of protecting customer data, the company could be liable to pay $750 per customer.
  • No new features or upgrades – If the lack of security updates isn’t scary enough, you will also stop receiving patches, hot fixes, new features, and improvements on unsupported data. This could lead to anomalies not just in the software performance but also across some business processes related to the software. The result: the speed, efficiency, capability, and usability of some processes and functionalities will be affected, leading to an overall dip in productivity.
  • Inability to run third-party software – It is likely that every business runs on more than just one software. For instance, in addition to having a primary ERP software, a business could be running a couple of third-party software aimed at specific actions – to enhance the ERP or the overall productivity. Whatever the case may be, most third-party software vendors do not support outdated solutions, be it ERP or otherwise. Hence, it becomes difficult to run such software, especially if this third-party software is essential to operate your business, further affecting your productivity.
  • Greater IT costs and lesser time for strategic initiatives – When you are on unsupported software, your IT team has to fix all the related bugs and shortcomings. This could require hiring additional and/or better IT employees, leading to a significant spike in IT costs.
    It also means there is shift in emphasis from workload priorities – from business-as-usual activities and innovation to fixing bugs and enhancing internal support, leaving IT staff with lesser time for strategic initiatives.
  • Losing out to competition – When you are on unsupported software, you are at risk of all the points mentioned above. Now imagine you are up against competition that is using supported software. In such a scenario, you are likely to lose out to them in terms of productivity, efficiency, and even customer service.
    Now that you are aware of the risks, the question is – Would you choose to avoid them? If yes, we can help, starting with a free structured assessment of your business. Our experienced team will then provide you with options on how to proceed, with minimal risk and complexity and maximum possible benefits.

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