Editor's Note: Frightening Encounter With Legacy Monster

While shopping for furniture recently, Stephanie Stahl ran head-on into the dreaded legacy monster, which stands in the way of an efficient, productive, customer-satisfying experience.
I decided to do a little shopping the other day, and you'll never guess who I ran into. It wasn't an old friend or a work colleague. It wasn't the chatty soccer mom who's always talking my ear off. No, it was worse. It was frightening. It was obnoxious. It was worse than that guy at the office who thinks his jokes (circa 1980) are funny and who loves to play Monday-morning quarterback but doesn't actually know the names of any quarterbacks. It's worse than that person in the middle seat in desperate need of a breath mint. It was the DREADED LEGACY MONSTER, standing in the way of an efficient, productive, customer-satisfying experience.

I called to order a piece of furniture from a reputable brand. My order and credit-card number were taken. "So, when will it be delivered?" The person on the other end might as well have said, "It will show up when it shows up." I was told it would take a few days for someone to call me back to tell me if the furniture was in stock at the warehouse. At that point, I could get an estimate on delivery time but would be contacted later to set up a specific time. I'd then get a confirmation (via snail mail) indicating that my order was complete and my credit card would be charged. What century am I living in? Now, this piece of furniture is hardly a mission-critical, gotta-have-it-right-now kind of thing. But there really can't be room for legacy monsters like these looming in the back room and confronting customers with its big, ugly face.

I've heard Wal-Mart CIO Linda Dillman speak of amazing innovation in global supply chains. I've heard General Motors CIO Ralph Szygenda talk about how cars are collaboratively developed on multiple continents and brought to market faster. I see how efficiently my bank manages cash flow with nearly up-to-the-minute information on transactions. I hear business-intelligence vendors speak of the ability to make real-time decisions on operational data. So why can't I get information on a simple piece of furniture in a timely fashion? I intend to call the CIO of this company--not to rant, but to get a sense for how evil the legacy monster is there and what's keeping him or her from taming it. What's standing in the way of innovation? I hope those monsters aren't living in your organization.

Stephanie Stahl, Editor-in-chief [email protected]

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