A Dangerous and Expensive Addiction to Legacy Systems

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Sean Roche is former Associate Deputy Director of CIA for Digital Innovation. The Directorate of Digital Innovation (DDI) was created to accelerate the integration of advanced digital capability across all of CIA’s mission areas and is responsible for a wide range of espionage missions including cyber intelligence, open source collection, secure global communications, worldwide mission information systems, data curation, and data science. He successfully worked to overhaul the legacy personnel systems and practices to create CIA’s first digital workforce.

You can have greater cyber security tomorrow simply by purging legacy systems. The American digital workplace functions as a reflection of our overall society. Therefore, we must address the unique American propensity for irrational hoarding as well as the challenges we face with all forms of addiction – specifically our increasingly dangerous penchant for retaining legacy systems. Japanese organization and decluttering expert Marie Kondo became an overnight sensation by demonstrating that permanently shedding the legacy items that burden our lives and degrades our living spaces brings “immeasurable peace, happiness, simplicity and joy.” Applying this mindset to the digital world delivers three additional important advantages: enhanced cyber security, mission agility and significantly reduced cost.  Believe it, trust it, and implement it aggressively.

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