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Do Not Make The Same Mistake COBOL-based New Jersey & Kansas Unemployment Department Made

It may be because there is nothing on TV. It may just be general curiosity. Either way, I find myself consuming a bit more news than normal in these interesting times we currently find ourselves in. Much of that news is to be expected. Airlines in trouble. Oil plummeting. Stimulus packages created and then poorly managed. But then I came across something I wasn't expecting. The dire need for COBOL programmers.

The backstory is this. Due to the rise in unemployment, and a flood of unemployment claims, the antiquated system that utilizes a programming language few people know anymore is creating significant issues processing claims. So there is this urgent call for COBOL Programmers. But few under the age of 60 know how to program in COBOL. Why? Because COBOL came onto the scenes in the 1960s and hasn't really been taught since the 1980s.

But before we jump on the obvious lack of foresight New Jersey and Kansas have had, it is important to understand that what most tech companies don't understand about non-tech companies is that you rarely get the benefit of being an early adopter in an established, profitable, well-run organization.

That being said however, what non-tech companies don't understand is that they have to have a game plan to deal with their aging systems and processes. Credit can be given for not always being up on the latest and greatest because the latest and greatest is not actually the greatest for established companies, but they don't get a pass on waiting 50 years to update their system either.

You have to find a balance.

While the old saying goes, never waste a good crisis, it is by far more preferable to modernize before a crisis hits.

One of our customers recently capitalized on that. They are one of the few businesses that have stable growth in the good times, but have very rapid growth when things are bad. In theory, their main competition could do the same. But their main competition can't because they aren't set up for that. So while our customer can pivot on a dime - even remotely - and integrate insurance companies' systems into their system, and then their system into UPS's system, their competition is left with a very small piece of the pie. We are talking tens of millions of dollars left on the table.

But it wasn't in the crisis that enabled them to do that. It was 7 years before that when they realized their RPG-based (similar to COBOL) system was stuck in the 80s and it was time to modernize.

Times are tough now and they likely will be tough for a while. And whether it is helping your team work easier remotely, or cutting costs, or simply because the time to advance is when your competition is flat footed: now (yes even now) is the time to modernize. It's probably cheaper and easier than you might think.

Be better situated for the good times. Be better prepared for the bad times. And stay safe out there.
Need help with modernizing your antiquated system? It would be fun to discuss. Contact us.