The Money In Cleanup

I have an acquaintance that helps migrate businesses off of ancient and inappropriate databases onto more recent ones. If you wonder how ancient and inappropriate let me simply state “not meant for industry” and “first created when One Piece the anime started airing” and you can guess. Now and then he literally goes and cleans up questionable and persisting bad choices.

In the recent unending and omnipresent discussions of AI, I saw a similar proposal. A person rather cynical about AI mused someone might make a living in the next few years backing a company’s tech and processes OUT of AI. Such things might seem ridiculous, until you consider my aforementioned acquaintance and the fact he gets paid to help people back out past decisions. Think of it as “migration from a place you shouldn’t have migrated to.”

It’s weird to think in technology, which always seems (regrettably) to be about forward motion and moving forward that there’s money in reversing decisions. Maybe it was the latest thing and now it’s not, or maybe it seemed like a good idea at the time (it wasn’t), but now you need someone to help you get out of your choice. Fortunately there are people who have turned “I told you so” into a service.

I find these “back out businesses” to be a good and needed reminder that technology is really not about forward. Yeah, the marketing guys and investors may want it, but as anyone who’s spent time in the industry knows, it’s not the case. Technology is a tool, and if the tool doesn’t work or is a bad choice, you want out of it. The latest, newest, fasted is not always the best – and may not be the best years later. Technology is not always about forward, even if someone tells you it is (before they sell you yet another new gizmo).

Considering the many, many changes in the world of tech, from social media to search to privacy, I wonder how much more “back out businesses” might evolve. Will there be coaches to get you to move to federated social media? How can you help a company get out of a bad relationship with a service vendor with leaky security and questionable choices? For that matter can we maybe take a look at better hosting arrangements and websites that aren’t ten frameworks in a trenchcoat?

I don’t know, and the world is in a terribly unpredictable state. But I’m amused to think that somewhere in my lifetime the big tech boom might be “oops, sorry.” Maybe we can say “moving away is really moving forward,” get some TED talks, and make not making bad immediate choices cool.

Steven Savage