New Jersey governor

As the coronavirus is making its way through the US, states are trying to deal with the virus in the best way possible. Every piece of infrastructure will undergo a lot of pressure since they are a critical factor in maintaining some sort of control over the situation.

Over the weekend, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy put out an open call saying the state is looking for tech experts or developers who have experience with the programming language COBOL. The New Jersey state’s unemployment systems has to endure a lot of load during this crisis and runs entirely on this programming language. 

What is the problem?

The systems used by the New Jersey state are more 40 years old and run entirely on the programming language COBOL.

COBOL (which stands for Common Business-Oriented Language) made its first debut more than 60 years ago. The language is still used in business, administrative and financial databases and gained popularity, back in the day, because of its human-readability. If you wan to add something to your code, you write ‘ADD’.

The problem is that the COBOL programming language is no longer taught to computer science students because the language is old and outdated. Schools focus on new programming languages that are being used to run new infrastructures. This means there are not many developers left who can manage these systems.

Whether New Jersey will be able the balance the load placed on the state’s unemployment system, completely relies on finding COBOL programmers. The state is no longer in control over the outcome of the situation. 

How did it get this far?

Buying infrastructure, an online platform or a digital tool is a big investment. Especially when your entire organization must adapt to a whole new way of working because of that investment. So, You want your investment to be worth it.

In this case, we see that New Jersey made an investment 40 years ago and have not made changes ever since. A mistake that many organizations tend to make. Even after a huge digital transformation process, when everything seems to be going perfect, it is important to keep on analyzing your business’ environment.

Your business changes all the time, so does society or the way people work and think. Often organizations think ” if it is not broken, it is good”. The New Jersey case shows us that a working system isn’t always enough! Keep your digital environment up to date. 

Don’t let a good investment become a bad one! 


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