Webster’s dictionary defines legacy as, “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.” However, when we think about “legacies,” we generally think about individuals or teams that left a lasting mark on the world. In sports, we think of Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Tiger Woods, Simone Biles and Michael Phelps. We think of teams that dominated their sport for periods of time or achieved a level of greatness never before achieved, like the 1980 U.S. Men’s Olympic hockey team, the Yankees (Bronx Bombers) of the 1950’s and the New England Patriots post-2000. When we think of our own mortality, we wonder about the legacy we’ll leave behind.
With these epic examples as backdrops, I wonder about an interesting dichotomy in the technology industry. It takes a term which in every other instance has a positive connotation – “legacy”— and turns it into something negative. So why does IT view technology legacy as a bad thing? Why do people believe that just because something is a new, bright, shiny object, that it will be better?
Early in my career, I made a conscious decision to move from one division of my company to another. My move to “Teradata” was driven by my desire to provide solutions to companies that drove significant business value over the long-term. And from my first client back in the 1990s through today, the successes achieved occurred on many levels, year-over-year and created tremendous strategic partnerships. I’ll never forget the conference 10 years ago when one of my clients presented how our solution enabled their organization to take over $1B of inventory out of their supply chain while still enabling them to increase sales (and that was just in their U.S. business). That’s bottom-line value. Conversely, I’ve seen clients pour millions of dollars into new technologies that promised the world, yet never delivered. Often, these investments were so substantial, that companies continued to pour good money after bad, trying to save face, ultimately, having to suffer huge write-offs.
One interesting commonality for all my clients has been the reliability and performance that they could rely on from Teradata. Day in, day out, the solutions just worked – processing hundreds of thousands of queries, enabling businesses to keep their supply chains optimized, their personalization solutions communicating effectively with their customers and members and enabling near-real-time analytics on hundreds of terabytes of data. From helping that first client “micro-manage” their financial turnaround, to empowering others to grow their data analytic infrastructures as they’ve grown – predictably, reliably, at a scale no other technology provider could accomplish - Teradata has been their great enabler.
Throughout my 3+ decades in the industry, there have been a litany of – I’ll call them – “bright, shiny, new objects;” the Teradata killers that were going to do things “better, faster, cheaper.” They’ve touted many architectures, pricing schemes and promises. Many have come and gone. Yet Teradata still grows, innovates and sets the standard in the data analytics world. Teradata pushes the envelope. Our global clients push us to constantly innovate and enable them to do more. We have been #1 throughout our history and we remain #1 today.
In Forbes article on Leadership Strategy: 5 Ways A Legacy-Driven Mindset Will Define Your Leadership, Glenn Llopis describes how “…legacy is not bound by age or time served. Legacy represents your body of work at each stage of your career as you establish the foundational building blocks and accumulate the required wisdom to contribute to growth, innovation and opportunity.”
Teradata as a company is not new. Our body of work is 40 years of providing extraordinary business value, enabled by great people and great technology. Teradata was all about big data before “big data” was a thing (just look at our company name). At each stage in our history, we’ve provided the innovation that industries needed to analyze and run their businesses, even in times of dramatic change. No time in my career has that legacy been more important. Businesses need to focus on new realities, new products, new services, etc. Now is the time to leverage that legacy.
Teradata’s solutions are so performant that they quietly support the business needs of the world’s largest global organizations doing analytics on hundreds of terabytes and petabytes of data, so reliable that technology teams don’t stress about SLAs because they just work, and they’re provided in a consistent way that people can count on, all while eliminating risk. Your legacy is your reputation – and in the data analytics space, I’ll bet on 40 years of delivery and innovation over the next shiny new object any time.