Are your legacy business applications shackling you to the past?

Many organisations still run legacy systems despite the clear and present momentum of digital transformation projects. Often these outdated applications are mission critical and are the backbone for how a business runs. Replacing these systems isn’t always straightforward and often sheer fear and inertia holds teams back from making a change.

The reality is that organisations have become prisoners to these systems that are simultaneously an asset and a liability to the business. In the majority of cases, such platforms are no longer supported by the software vendor and require skills that are not common in today’s talent pool. Furthermore, often these systems have been kept ticking over, but have lacked the real investment to enable them to support strategic growth.

Deloitte cites the example of a trading company that was still running an in-house system that ran on hardware from a company that went out of business in the 1980s. The company maintained this system by purchasing old computers on auction sites for spare parts. There is only so long this type of situation can last.

According to Stefan van der Zijden, VP Analyst at Gartner:

“For many organisations, legacy systems are seen as holding back the business initiatives and business processes that rely on them. When a tipping point is reached, application leaders must look to application modernisation to help remove the obstacles.”

Legacy systems don’t just hold organisations back from strategic imperatives. Here are some of the other problems and vulnerabilities that they pose:

Hand cuffed hands in the air against white background. Hand cuffed hands in the air against white background.

“For many organisations, legacy systems are seen as holding back the business initiatives and business processes that rely on them. When a tipping point is reached, application leaders must look to application modernisation to help remove the obstacles.”

Stefan van der Zijden | VP Analyst, Gartner

They are not compatible with the latest technologies and are not customer experience centric

Some people call this the age of the customer. A world where customers have more choice than ever and have the power and freedom to switch between providers. Customers have become accustomed to slick, on-demand digital experiences that serve them on their terms. Legacy systems were designed and built to be-stand alone. They don’t integrate well with the dizzying array of platforms that are needed to deliver a class-leading digital experience. Maintaining your competitiveness in the market may lead you to look for alternatives to your legacy platform or to find ways to make it easier to integrate with the latest best-of-breed platforms.

They are vulnerable to security breaches

As is often the case with legacy systems, the lack of vendor support (updates, patches and security improvements) can leave them vulnerable to security breaches. After all they were developed at a time when the level and type of security threat was entirely different. This means a legacy system can compromise the security of an entire network. Something to think about carefully as you appraise the pros and cons of moving away from your legacy platform.

Legacy systems are a drain on productivity

The likelihood is that your people are used to up-to-the-minute platforms with user-friendly GUI interfaces. Such platforms feature automations, that replace manual and laborious manual steps with just one or two clicks. The need to use older ‘green screens’ with manual commands can be both a drain on productivity and also people’s morale. The lack of updates to legacy systems can leave them clunky and unwieldy to use since they were designed for people who had very different expectations about their jobs. When you choose to update these systems or move to up-to-the-minute cloud-based platforms, you can increase productivity whilst also keeping team members contented too.

They could be the weak-link in your IT infrastructure

If the original software vendor is no longer supporting your system, then who is? How many people do you have in your organisation who have the skills and tenure required to maintain these systems? And how much are those niche resources costing you? What happens if they retire or move to another organisation, taking this knowledge with them. Given the level of IT budget available in your organisation, is a lion’s share of that budget being used just to keep your legacy system ticking over? And what is the opportunity cost of this? Could your IT spend be better deployed elsewhere, on strategic projects that lead to a better win for the business, for its customers, its people and its shareholders?

A lack of timely insights

In a world of business and commerce that quite literally moves faster, people across the organisation rely on up-to-the-minute insights that empower them to make informed business decisions. Without insightful dashboards and reports, reviewing data can be a bit like looking in a rea--view mirror. You’re assuming that the past will help predict the future. Modern cloud-based platforms come with a wealth of API, web-services and ready-to-go connectors that make it easy to connect data to business intelligence and corporate performance management platforms. How easy is it to connect your legacy system reliably and safely to one of these?

Legacy systems create an image problem — in an increasingly transparent world

The world of work has changed dramatically. Historically, employees were seen and not heard. Today, employees are a company’s best asset as advocates and ambassadors to the outside world through social media. The new workplace culture means sharing deep insights into your working day on platforms like LinkedIn and posting reviews about how much you love your job on Glassdoor. Think carefully about the impression that legacy systems make on talent in your business, especially the latest generation of recruits who were born digital. Then you should also factor in the costs of training people to use outdated systems. Any cost-benefit analysis or business case for change should take into account the hidden costs that training adds to keeping a legacy system running smoothly.

Break free from your shackles!

Whether you're in need of a new Finance or Operations platform to streamline your 'back office' functions to feel confident your dollars and cents are up to date and accurate, or need a better way to find, engage, and sell to customers — empowering your Sales Team to become revenue generating machines, or it's simply time to make the move to the cloud to ensure more robust business continuity and stronger security, talk to a trusted Business Solutions partner to find out what your options are, and how to build a business case to put your legacy systems lunacy to rest.

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