Business man pressing on a screen displaying 2021

Why Legacy Systems Are Holding Your Business Back

The Problem With Legacy Systems

Businesses have had to adapt to cloud computing to allow personnel and staff access to important company information, files and applications. While the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation among businesses across a variety of industries, some are still not realizing their full potential.

Think of legacy IT systems as an old t-shirt. No matter how comfortable you are with it, eventually it start wear out, fade and tear. Eventually you’ll need to consider replacing it with a newer shirt.

The same goes for legacy IT. Your legacy infrastructure might feel comfortable and reliable because it has worked for so long. However, there will come a time when the flaws and inefficiencies become more apparent. You are going to have to choose between modernizing your business, applications and infrastructure or be left behind by those who do.

What is a Legacy System?

A legacy system is an outdated hardware or software that is still being used by an organization. A legacy system isn’t necessarily one that no longer works but one that isn’t scalable. In fact, the reason why legacy systems are so tempting to keep is precisely because they still work.

For some organizations, investing in IT has developed a system that allows their business to run effectively. So there are instances in which legacy systems are a cheaper and more convenient than migrating to a cloud based service.

However, for many companies, their IT investments are starting to become expensive and inefficient nightmares. For these companies legacy IT is a huge financial burden. Consider the fact that about 75 percent of the $35 trillion spent on technology since 2010 has gone toward maintaining existing systems.

Furthermore, there are many hidden costs associated with slow software and hardware due to the impact on productivity. As previously mentioned, legacy systems might function well but your IT infrastructure is filled with interconnected parts that depend on one another to function. Eventually, your business will need to update applications and programs to operate properly.

Whether it’s because of new compliance protocols, or changes within your industry. Those applications might be incompatible with your legacy systems and that could heavily influence level of productivity.

Poor performance is a big problem with legacy systems as a whole. With businesses modernizing to better suit mobile devices, the ability to access apps at anytime from anywhere improves operations and productivity. Those stuck with older legacy equipment might suffer from lack of compatibility with mobile apps.

The problem with legacy software is that it can’t be accessed from anywhere other than an office computer. Businesses operating on legacy devices had to learn this the hard way when the pandemic hit and they were forced to work remotely.

How to Evaluate Change

Even if it is the case that your legacy system is meeting your business needs, you have to consider how your industry is changing. It’s about anticipating your customer’s needs and ensure you have an innovative strategy. Think of all the companies that found success on the cloud. Capital One, Amazon, Netflix, Google and others have changed their respective industries by redefining customer experience.

At the very least, businesses that keep up with industry demands will have a competitive edge on the one hand but just as important you’ll have the systems in place to operate under any circumstance.

Look at what happened when the 2020 pandemic struck. Businesses that had put off cloud migration were at once forced to incorporate it in order stay afloat. The companies best positioned to thrive during the pandemic had the technology required to adapt quickly in a pinch. Cloud computing, remote capable infrastructures, robotics, or online commerce are all examples of tech that helped businesses stay open.

Those able to use this technology emerged as the victors and gained the upper hand over companies slow to adjust. Even as the economy returns to normal, these technologies will continue to reshape and define how businesses operate for the foreseeable future. These changes that were seen as temporary solutions are quickly becoming permanent as employers, workers and customers begin to see the benefits of cloud and remote work.

Think about the technology customers use today. If you’re still using incompatible legacy systems you’ll stagnate and suffer as competition pushes you out.

Security Risks

Legacy systems present major security risks to any businesses or organization that uses them. In fact, many government agencies have experienced major data breaches as a result of outdated, poorly protected legacy infrastructure. There was even a piece of legislation introduced to modernize all government legacy systems to better prepare for cyber threats.

Legacy systems generally don’t receive regular maintenance. As a result, they don’t undergo the updates required to stay secure in a modern world. Rapidly advances in technology are driving business practices and productivity. Cyber criminals exploit the vulnerabilities found in legacy systems to extort them and hamper progress.

How to Transition to The Cloud

In the case of older business, there is plenty of older data you want to have access to. That is why a gradual approach toward cloud adoption is preferred by most.
Organizations can slowly transition to the cloud through a hybrid Co-management solution. If you aren’t comfortable relinquishing your IT team or control, you don’t have to. Co-managed solutions allows you to keep your existing IT department and use a managed services provider (MSP) as a backup. Giving them control over duties and processes your IT department is too busy for.

Many MSP’s offer IT consulting services and help businesses develop a detailed plan of action regarding the application of cloud technology. In any case, MSP’s can add much needed structure and organization to your new IT systems.

There were many lessons to draw from 2020. But the biggest one for businesses is the importance of adaptability. This coming year make it a priority to review your legacy systems and evaluate their effectiveness. Organizations can move to the cloud and experience profound changes by adopting newer applications and infrastructure. In the meantime, businesses will continue to experience difficulties as they fail to recognize the inefficiencies that come with keeping legacy systems in place.