As I was walking my dog through our West Los Angeles neighborhood early this morning I couldn’t help to notice the large amount of fallen leaves on the ground.  As I glanced around at the trees on the street during my walk, nearly all of them were starting to drop their dead leaves in preparation for winter, which got me thinking about how everything in life has a cycle … birth, life and then death.  Technology is not different in any way, so it honestly surprises me when I speak with people who are still using systems such as a legacy marketing databases that were built over a decade ago.  Technology and legacy systems, including marketing databases, much like everything else in life have a very definitive end of life stage. 

Technology should be used to its full potential, thoughtfully and proactively maintained to ensure a long life, but then should be allowed to be properly retired and decommissioned when the benefit of new technologies far outweigh the time and expense of increasing proactive maintenance which can no longer sustain a system’s usefulness.  In the technology world we often use the term “sunsetting” when we talk about decommissioning a particular application or system.  It’s important to know that all systems at some point need to be “sunset” and replaced with newer, faster and better performing systems.

In 1965, Intel’s co-founder, Gordon Moore, described a trend in which computing power (specifically the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit) doubles every year.  This is known widely among computer scientists as Moore’s Law.  So even though power doubles every year,  people are still using decade old technology and systems in which they keep trying to resuscitate and push along with the expectation that these systems will perform as well as they did a decade ago.  This is a completely unrealistic expectation.  What this really means, especially to some who are running legacy marketing database technologies, is that the laptop I’m writing this blog entry on is probably more powerful and able to process faster then the systems that are currently housing your customer and prospect databases.  When you think about it that way, isn’t it time to do some research, look at some new database technology and ‘sunset’ those old systems?  Yes, I think it is. 
Birth, life and death are a guarantee for both people and systems, so stop trying to hold on to that legacy marketing database too long and give some serious thought about building a new and updated marketing database so you can give that old system some respect and retire it gracefully before it goes without your consent and also takes both your customer and prospect lists with it.