Written by Sumit Sethi on Wednesday 13 September 2017
Apple unveiled their latest iPhone range yesterday to mark the tenth anniversary of their iPhone series. The range includes the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, with the top marque being the iPhone X. For the last few weeks, I have been busy making the decision on whether to upgrade or not without knowing the official specs, features or even the look of the new iPhone, and following yesterday’s unveiling, I regard the iPhone X as the new iPhone.
During this time, I came to reflect upon the similarities between my decision process and that which an Insurance Company faces when deliberating on replacing or upgrading its legacy software. For the real InsurGeeks out there, it effectively became the iPhone & I90 conundrum, with I90 being a proxy for legacy insurance software and mainframes in general.
The first of my many I90 encounters began in 2009, and I have come across its many instances with three employers and various client engagements, including a range of screen colours (green, orange & even purple)! I must admit a soft spot for the ERP legacy software, which continues to perform uninterrupted across the UK on those highly-reliable AS400s, nearly two decades after its supposed heyday……‘I90’.
I purchased my current smartphone, the Apple iPhone 5s in 2013, on the day that it launched. I chose not to queue for it, but I must admit to queuing with great excitement for the iPhone 4 in 2010. As you can tell, I am somewhat trapped in the iPhone fanfare but I need to decide within the next 10 days whether I upgrade to the iPhone X, the iPhone 8 / 8 Plus, defer or buy another non-Apple phone. On the surface, you may overlook the similarities between me buying an iPhone and an Insurer deciding on the future of its legacy system, but here are eight truths:
- Selection locks you into an ecosystem; my phone functions in the iOS ecosystem, which ties me into its App Store and hardware, such as my Apple Watch. There are many occasions when I am left looking enviously towards my Android friends (not to be confused with actual Androids who are also my friends)
- A myriad of purchasing and licencing options add complexity: I can spend more upfront by purchasing my iPhone X outright together with a cheaper monthly bill via a sim-only deal, or I can spread out the upfront phone cost through a fixed-term contract but with a higher monthly bill
- Product configuration is vital to BAU: I always make the mistake of getting a lower-memory model and even after supplementing with iCloud, storage issues remain. This leads to the ‘Storage Almost Full’ battle, as even after deleting apps, pics or vids, there are no real sustainable options
- Stick to a setup that suits you: I choose not to jailbreak my phone because the risks and potential inconveniences outweigh any potential benefits. I remain happy with the SDLC of the iPhone because being Apple’s flagship product, investment for features ‘out-of-the-box’ are guaranteed
- Not all product features are of value: sorry to say this Siri, but we hardly talk, even though I like the idea of you! I have found my Apple Watch a better method for interacting with the phone and whilst I use Apple Pay and the Touch ID functionality with delight, other new features are often little used
- Updates are extremely crucial: being a member of the Apple Beta Software Program, I get access to all major and minor software updates ahead of their official releases, and I apply all App updates daily (if not twice). This has kept my 4year-old phone both secure and functioning smoothly
- The product does have an end-of-life: Apple now have an annual iPhone release cycle every September and many have accepted that whilst they hold back on releasing new features to sustain this cycle, there is planned obsolesce. Even Apple estimate a 3year lifespan of iOS devices for first owners
- The TCO varies according to your strategy: sitting next to a Technical Architect in 2015, who professed the mantra of ‘sweating your assets’ for IT investments, I was compelled to review the product feature set for two iPhone releases (iPhone 6s and iPhone 7); I elected to remain with my iPhone 5s
Beyond potentially coining the phrase InsurGeeks, the above 8 truths are equally relevant to an Insurance Company when strategically deciding on the future of its legacy systems. The absolute financials are worlds apart and the implications are far-reaching, not only to the operation of a business, but to the success of it. And it’s this fundamental aspect of success where Insurers need to take a considered view by understanding the TCO of such systems to avoid false economies and ensure a best fit for their strategy.
In Part 2 of this article, I will outline my TCO-centric approach in deciding whether to upgrade to the iPhone X or not.
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