How to innovate beyond tired legacy systems

Many businesses perceive their legacy systems to be a frustrating blocker for growth; but this doesn’t have to be the case. There are still plenty of ways to adapt your current systems to continue innovating and unlock further revenue opportunities.

While your systems may have been efficient when first implemented, in reality they could now be causing more harm than good. It is true that outdated technologies can seriously limit your growth potential and create unwanted challenges; creating a less than ideal environment for success. 

According to research from Deloitte and McKinsey, less than 10% of businesses are making real progress toward becoming more adaptive and agile, and just 23% are actively working to change the way they operate. This is so concerning as legacy systems which are causing downtime for mission-critical server hardware and applications can cost organisations upwards of £50,000 per hour due to lost business and disrupted productivity. 

Could your tired technology be given a new lease of life?

Many businesses are now at a point where they have existing systems in place which are not ready for the future.

This means lost opportunities. Without access to this data, you may struggle to effectively target your customers and provide them with the personalised experiences or offers which are key to driving revenue.

Many legacy systems can also require manual data entry and processing which is time-consuming and can lead to human error.

For many businesses, outdated systems can struggle under high traffic volumes at peak times which can lead to system outages or downtime, more frustration for customers and businesses alike.

Without the capacity to support emerging technologies, such as AI systems, data lakes, or deep learning models, legacy systems may also be limiting your ability to innovate and stay ahead of your competition.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. So how can you breathe a new lease of life into your tied tech?

Identify the issues

The first step in moving on from legacy systems is to identify the specific issues that are holding you back. It could be one or a combination of the previously mentioned problems; either way it is vital to address these in order to implement effective change.

Assess the solutions

Break down your infrastructure 

Breaking down your legacy system into microservices; i.e. smaller, modular components that can be developed and deployed independently can deliver real impact. This approach can increase capacity and balance the load on your existing system, making it more manageable and flexible.

Create an interface or extraction layer

An interface or extraction layer can help you integrate legacy systems with newer web or app-based digital products. This approach helps to avoid the high costs and risks associated with a complete system overhaul while still providing some operational improvements.

Legacy Blog Diagrams

An example of legacy systems in place at a a multi-chain hospitality business

Legacy Blog Diagram 2

How a backend for frontend layer (in blue in this diagram) can still allow you to innovate with your existing systems

Performance optimisation

Additional services or instances can be added to improve the performance of the existing legacy system, ensuring it can handle the demands of both your business and your users.

Improving hosting requirements

Improving the hosting requirements of your legacy system can create more stability, scalability and capacity for your server to accommodate new products, services or AI systems. By doing this, you can handle higher traffic, while also adopting emerging technologies vital for staying competitive.

Total overhaul

In some cases, a complete overhaul might be your best option to address deeply rooted fundamental issues. While a complete rebuild is a more costly option, it is sometimes the best way to ensure your system is fully optimised to meet your specific needs and requirements.

Discover what works best for you (and your users)

Ultimately, your decision should be based on a cost/benefit analysis; you'll need to weigh up the restrictions of the tech you have against your budget and your desired end goals. The best way to do that is to undergo a discovery process or app audit (link to add audit page).

By going through the discovery process, you can fully analyse your existing systems and identify the key areas in need of improvement. This helps you to develop a plan of action, determine the most effective solutions for your business and how best to implement them. An app audit can also help you to assess the compatibility of your existing systems with brand new apps and service integrations.

Whether you choose to update, upgrade, or completely replace your legacy systems, taking action now can help you to stay competitive, improve user/customer loyalty, unlock new revenue streams and increase your product’s longevity.

Examples of brands who have innovated with legacy systems

We have helped our clients such as the NHS and Dunnes to innovate beyond their restrictive legacy systems. 

For the NHS, we saved money, time, and most crucially lives by overhauling their systems with the transformative DonorPath app. This overhaul also contributed to an improved employee experience for those NHS staff members who had been struggling with tired legacy systems that simply couldn’t keep up with demand. 

For Ireland’s huge retail chain Dunnes Stores, we worked on a digital revamp of the Dunnes Stores customer loyalty scheme, VALUEclub. This is a transformation that has delighted customers and created high business impact through operational cost savings - because vouchers no longer need to be printed and sent out to customers’ homes.

Ready to find out how you can innovate beyond your tired legacy systems? Contact us now to find out how we can help.

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