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Outline compatibility issues resulting from situations including legacy systems or business mergers.


Teaching Note:

INT, S/E When organizations interact, particularly on an international basis, there may be issues of software compatibility and language differences.


Sample Question:



JSR Notes:

Compatibility Issues

What we mean by this is that one IT system does not work with another IT system. So, for example, a iOS app is not "compatible" with an Android phone. Or a video game made for Windows XP in the 1990s is not "compatible" with the latest Windows 10 operating system.

Often times a newer IT system, hardware or software, can be made to be "backward compatible", meaning that it is engineered to be able to work with both the latest system, and also older systems. So, for example, the latest Microsoft Word, which is made to work with the newest Windows OS can still work with two or three older versions of the the Windows OS.

But you will know from updating your Mac or your phone, that often an application or app which worked on the old phone doesn't work on the new phone, or vice versa. Obviously it's easier to make something backward compatible than "forward compatible", since the developer/engineer has no way of knowing what future systems will be like.

A. Legacy System & Compatility Issues

What is meant by "legacy" systems is older equipment and/or software that has been superseded by newer systems or upgrades. Along with legacy hardware and software we can even talk of legacy programming languages. Techopedia - Legacy Systems

It is important and useful to note that legacy systems are still able to work on their own, and with systems from the same generation of equipment.

Often it makes sense, or is necessary, to have both new systems and legacy systems running at the same time. But this creates many problems that have to be handled:


Problems Arising from Maintaining Legacy Systems



B. Business mergers (notably international ones) & Compatibility Issues

Mergers and Acquisitions - These are business terms which describe, in the case of mergers, two companies joining together, and acquisitions, one company acquiring another. Wikipedia - Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions are done for reasons of increased efficiency, and command of a certain market. So, for example, two banks might merge because one has a good presence in one half of a country, and another the other half, so by coming together, they can become a truly nation-wide bank. And in the process of doing so, they can reduce staff and resources that would be otherwise duplicated, and thus save money. But among other things, they will have to merge their IT systems.

Meantime, business acquisitions happen very regularly in the IT sector in particular, when a larger company spots a start-up firm that has developed a new technology, and so by buying out the smaller company, the larger company gets control of that technology, which they see as very useful to their overall strategy.

International Mergers and Acquisitions - this adds a whole other dimension to the potential compatibility issues. Different regions tend to prefer certain companies, operating systems, hardware and software, and may even use different protocols for different technologies. So these issues, along with "compatibility" issues among people, like language and customs, makes international mergers and acquisitions in need of even more change management than normal.

Gung Ho movie trailer example.


Compatibility Issues Arising from Mergers and Acquisitions

When considering possible issues, whether from old to new or from one part of the world to another, consider the same four major compatibility issues of an IT system:

Compatibility of Hardware - machines with different architectures may not be able to properly work together

Compatibility of Software - software from one OS or platform may not be compatible with another

Compatibility of Data - the format of data may not be able to be handled by various different software

Staffing "compatibility" difficulties - not only language, but national customs and work cultures can conflict, not just across borders, but due to other personal characteristics of various groups (the relaxed youth work culture of a company like Google might conflict with a more conservative company they take over)


Specific Example:

Compatibility issues implementing a region-wide hospital database:

- There can be both legacy software and legacy hardware compatibility issues (old software of one clinic doesn't work well with the new software of a new hospital)

- And there will also be issues of compatibility between different software systems of the same era, but different types/standards, and/or different operating systems (Mac/Windows).

- The sets of data stored different places will differ - some institutions may keep loads of data, and other not, or not for the same length of time.

- Even though there may not be language differences between hospitals (though this is possible too depending on the country), there may be unique database terms and titles and so on which differ.


Example: Microsoft buying Nokia. Issues: Nokia using Mac computers, Microsoft using Windows...

Example: Going from wired to wireless at a school. Issue: some of the "legacy" computers don't have the WiFi ability...

Example: Minecraft bought out by Microsoft: Issues: company ethos of Microsoft much different than the young vibrant culture of Minecraft geeks...



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