Don’t Let Legacy IT Hold Your Business Back

Many businesses hit a wall during digital transformation. Legacy IT provides a big obstacle that businesses must figure out how to overcome.

The COVID-19 pandemic thrust the world into an uncomfortable era. As humans, we hate change, and COVID literally turned our world upside down. For businesses, this meant huge transitions and adjustments to how businesses operate. The majority of the global workforce is working remotely, which forced businesses to review their entire IT operations. If digital transformation was already on the radar, some businesses forged ahead earlier than scheduled. If it wasn’t on the radar, it is now, and if it was already in progress, the process was sped up. But it’s not all rainbows and unicorns, many businesses hit a wall when it came time to deal with Legacy IT.

If you’re a business owner and you’ve been paying attention, then you already know that digital transformation is a necessity to stay competitive. That means moving systems and processes from analogue and hard-copy processes to electronic. It means updating methods, implementing new procedures and modernizing everything. Digital transformation typically involves cloud migration, among other things, which is difficult to do with legacy IT.

At first, it may seem like your legacy IT systems, processes, storage methods, etc. are better off left alone. It’s less costly to maintain them than to modernize, and there are certain legacy items that simply will not fit into the digital space. This is when business leaders hit a stumbling block. Many of them will choose to leave that legacy item alone and deal with it “later” (which we all know never comes), others will find a way to make a digital process that (hopefully) comes close to mimicking that item, and still others will scrap the legacy item and go full-fledge into digitization.

This is not an easy quandary. We often say that hiring an expert is imperative in technology, even if you have the best team in the world. No one is free from error. Legacy IT is one of those things that you should definitely be working to solve, and bringing in a third party could prove useful. Not just because digitization may not be compatible with your legacy items, but also because legacy IT systems are called that for a reason. They are old, they’ve been around and used for 10+ years, and while maintenance has been done, systems become more fragile as they age.

Some business leaders will say, “Well, it isn’t breaking now so we don’t need to do anything. We can just keep maintaining this old system (that is on the verge of implosion) and deal with it later.” Except that when “later” comes, it’s because that system has broken. Now, not only has business come to a screeching halt until it can be fixed, but no one can get work done and customers can’t access what they need or make purchases. You end up with extra labor costs to fix the problem, plus loss of business for the length of time business is shut down, and also the loss of business from customers looking for a company that won’t let them down.

Yes, it can be expensive to modernize legacy IT or even to phase it out in favor of something new. It can also be scary to do those things because humans do not like unknowns. And making changes to legacy IT definitely comes with unknowns. However, no matter what the cost is, business leaders must remember that technology is limited in its lifecycle. Not only do we constantly have new innovations pushing old methodologies out of the way, but systems become fragile and break down. In order for business to run smoothly and without interruption, systems must be maintained and modernized.

If we can learn anything from the coronavirus pandemic, it is that humans are resilient and we have the ability to change when we need to. Now we need to take those abilities and apply them in different areas. It’s okay to change things, it’s okay to update things, and, in the long run, it’s going to save your business money. Not only by adjusting before something breaks, but maintenance costs will drop, security will be tighter and business will run smoothly and efficiently. 

Don’t let legacy IT hold your business back. There are ways to adjust legacy systems, to update them, adapt them or maybe it’s time to re-evaluate that system anyway and seek out something better. Bring in an expert to help you with the process, someone who can offer you outside-the-box solutions that still cater to your business needs. But the longer you wait, the more fragile your systems become. Don’t put your business at risk! Stay competitive and keep your business efficient. Get those old systems updated and digitized!

About the Author

Pieter VanIperen, Managing Partner of PWV Consultants, leads a boutique group of industry leaders and influencers from the digital tech, security and design industries that acts as trusted technical partners for many Fortune 500 companies, high-visibility startups, universities, defense agencies, and NGOs. He is a 20-year software engineering veteran, who founded or co-founder several companies. He acts as a trusted advisor and mentor to numerous early stage startups, and has held the titles of software and software security executive, consultant and professor. His expert consulting and advisory work spans several industries in finance, media, medical tech, and defense contracting. Has also authored the highly influential precursor HAZL (jADE) programming language.

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