With the constant changes in technology and the need for having to keep up or risk lagging behind, IT departments have to make sure they are ahead of the race in terms of software capabilities. The role of IT managers now relies on synchronising legacy systems with modern workspaces to optimise all processes and ensure seamless operations.

To remain competitive in the fast-changing digital world, organisations need to modernise their legacy systems that just aren’t sufficient anymore. Many may hold back from doing so due to reluctance to change. However, modernising legacy systems is crucial if you want to keep up with customer demands, centralise your operations and enhance overall efficiency.

What are legacy systems?

Legacy systems are synonymous to the type of business. In most cases, you’ll find a mixed bag of old systems linked to software tools that are more modern. Some organisations choose to update their systems bit by bit. Others may still be stuck in the dark ages using both old systems and old software.

To put it simply, legacy systems are “old” systems. But, this doesn’t always refer to the actual age of the system or software. Legacy systems can refer to any system that hinders performance rather than optimising it. Legacy systems do not allow for growth, flexibility or adaptability.

But what’s the difference between legacy systems and legacy software? Well, legacy systems have a lack of IT support and cannot meet the growing needs of the business. Legacy software, on the other hand, does not have the ability to integrate with new systems or processes. Both of these hold organisations back from modernisation and growth.

Why should you modernise legacy systems?

Let’s start with the issues organisations are likely to experience if they fail to modernise legacy systems. The organisation will experience complications related to:

  • User experience
  • Support
  • Maintenance
  • And the ability to integrate systems.

To stay efficient, and remain at the forefront of managing customer expectations, there is a need for legacy modernisation. Through modernisation, you’ll be able to gauge both customer and employee satisfaction through the use of performance and user experience standards.

You’ll be able to recognise growth opportunities and go above and beyond in meeting the expectations of customers. Modernisation also makes it easier to gain new customers by providing better customer experience.

It allows you to streamline processes and become more accessible. This allows for better performance with the reduction of risks.

Modernisation creates opportunities to advance the bottom line. It mitigates financial risks that come with legacy systems and make way for simpler integration that spans across a variety of CRMs.

Improved, up to date systems and technology mean better security as well. You can alleviate the risks of internal security breaches and external threats – keeping your business and sensitive data safe. In Accenture’s 2018 report on the State of Cyber Resilience, they identified legacy infrastructure as having one of the biggest impacts on damaging cyberattacks.

With modernisation also comes an opportunity for innovation and agility for future system and software changes. This means that you can remain competitive and continue to grow and adapt your business in the fast-changing digital world.

The implications of not modernising your legacy systems

Cybersecurity becomes a huge risk. Older systems do not have the same protection as newer systems do. As such, they are easier to hack, which can result in costly data breaches.

In addition, older technology usually isn’t supported by the vendors that created the software or systems. You run the danger of not having the ability to maintain or take care of the software regularly. This can result in poor functionality and vulnerabilities associated with data security.

Legacy systems also provide less insightful analytics. Data insights are so important for business decisions. Without insight into trends, it’s difficult for businesses to predict consumer behaviours or identify areas of business they need to improve.  

Most of the time legacy systems become outdated rapidly. This then results in systems that stifle productivity, just because they cannot handle the needs of the organisation.

Like Stefan Van Der Zijden, VP Analyst at Gartner says:

“For many organizations, 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 modernization to help remove the obstacles.”

Why do organisations still have legacy systems?

Quite simply put, it’s because they aren’t easy to change. Even more so if they are the backbone of an organisation’s business processes.

Risk aversion and migration challenges

If organisations are risk-averse and they believe it’s easier to do things as they have always done before, then it’s difficult to implement change. If legacy systems are full of technical processes and stored data, it is also a challenge to migrate everything onto a new system.

Resources for adoption and training

While there are obvious benefits of modernised systems, organisations still maintain legacy systems because IT managers and staff would need to coach employees on the new systems. This takes time and costs money.

Fear of the unknown

Many people are uncomfortable with the unknown and reluctant to learn new ways of doing things. Organisations also face the risk of losing certain data or critical business processes by migrating. This is a major reason why some organisations still use legacy systems.

Complicated integrations

Legacy systems contain integrations and business processes that make it complicated to integrate seamlessly. Organisations can therefore not avoid the costs related to modernising legacy systems and this is often a complicated hurdle to cross. For some organisations, it’s often a deciding factor between going ahead with the implementation or opting to remain stagnant.

However, in the long term, it’ll be financially beneficial to modernise legacy systems. It will enhance business processes and make it easier for organisations to adapt to growing and changing demands.

Workspace 365 Ultimate guide to digital transformation

How to modernise legacy systems

There are a number of ways in which you can modernise legacy systems depending on your business needs and readiness to evolve. There’s an option to replace your legacy system. This means discarding the former application completely and reinstating completely new systems.

Redesigns & API’s

Another option would be to extend features that carry the same functions and data – made accessible through an Application Programming Interface (API). Alternatively, you could redesign integral applications from scratch while maintaining their functionality and specifications.

Rehosting

Rehosting is another option. This would mean redeploying the application to alternative infrastructure. You can do this virtually or through the cloud while still maintaining its original functions. There’s also an option for conversion to new applications, altering the code to explore better efficiencies.

Migrate to a new platform

Another option is to migrate to a platform that allows for a better runtime, minimising changes to the code and at the same time making the change more manageable. The existing code can also be restructured to enhance characteristics that are non-functional.

Use a hybrid model

One of the simplest, and most effective, options is to use a hybrid model. You can use your legacy applications as virtual applications through a browser. This hybrid approach means that you can still use your legacy systems, but they become more accessible and organised.

Your legacy system migration does not need to be as drastic as redesigning the entire thing. Simply keep things more up to date and enhance usability by modernising them to work through a browser.

Modernising legacy systems in Workspace 365

Workspace 365 offers the possibility to unlock the power of your workforce by simplifying and integrating legacy systems into an adaptive workspace. You can easily integrate your web and legacy applications, uniting everything you need to work in one place – both the old and the new – and enabling a gradual transition to a completely modern workspace. Workspace 365 delivers a simple and personalised experience that automatically adjusts to any environment.

The aim is to simplify legacy system migration through app management, document management and remote desktop applications. These all allow for seamless transitions to take place in a hybrid workspace. With the availability of Micro Apps for each process, it ensures more coherent organisation of data and enhanced accessibility.

You might still wonder if it’s best to modernise or to migrate. This depends on your desired outcomes and capabilities. Consider an example of organisations moving over to Office 365 while it’s still tagging along with legacy file servers and applications.

The solution presented by Workspace 365 is to bundle these into one hybrid workspace. This means that customers and employees can easily unite and access all applications and data they need in their workday.

To sum it all up

When deciding on the best approach to modernise your legacy systems, you need to be clear on your business needs as well as what your existing infrastructure is able to handle internally. Your business goals are directly associated with your current software systems and the desired outcomes. So, you need to ensure that your systems can handle growing business demands so that you can meet your goals.

Yes, the focus may be on IT departments to roll out the modernised changes. But, ultimately, it’s a bigger business decision that will steer the need for modernisation. While it may be costly to migrate legacy systems initially, in the long run, it will only benefit your employees, customers, and business overall.

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Georgien Modijefsky

Georgien Modijefsky

Master of Content

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