The truth about legacy IT your COO wants you to know

Monday, May 20, 2019 - Philip Rashleigh

As a senior leader, you know technology plays an important role in enabling revenue growth, customer experience, cost savings and productivity gains.

With 50% of senior stakeholders stating that legacy systems are a barrier to digital transformation, you’re aware that outdated IT is holding you back.

But navigating a digital transformation takes more than engaging with an external software provider.

The best decisions are backed by meaningful data and transparent reporting. And with the reputation of your organisation largely riding on the efficacy of your technology, updating legacy IT systems in the right way is paramount to success.

How can you approach this and what do you need to consider? Here’s the truth your COO wants you to know. 

The business case goes beyond growth

Convincing and collaborating with stakeholders is central to the success of any project and it’s no different when replacing legacy technology. Your COO wants you to know this project has far-reaching benefits that will appeal from the board to the shop floor, helping you secure stakeholder interest.

Time and cost efficiencies

When you’re managing operations across multiple sites the implications of inefficiencies quickly add up. The automation and centralisation of essential processes can shave hours off delivery times and enable your workforce to focus on high-value activities.

For example, T-Mobile introduced automation back in 2014 and began running over 80% of test scripts on rote, freeing up precious mental capacity for its team to focus on high-growth activities.

AESSEAL, a global mechanical seals manufacturer, redeveloped disparate legacy systems into one centralised platform. Among wide-ranging benefits, the transformation reduced lead times from hours to minutes and quotation speeds became up to 72 times faster.

And Gleadell Agriculture, (now ADM UK), a major agricultural commodities trader, redeveloped its legacy trading platform. Integrating with other core systems, the new solution saw invoicing speeds become 12 times faster and processing time for cancelling truck movements reduce by 97%.

Replacing, upgrading or integrating new innovations drives down tech inefficiencies in both cost and productivity terms. Value that will appeal to operational and financial departments.

Talent attraction and retention

Attracting and retaining IT professionals demands a potent combination of culture, opportunity and location. Agile and DevOps approaches are expected as standard and the workforce is a passionate community of problem solvers who want to impact the world around them. Present them with outdated tech and no scope to evolve and you risk shunning the very people who could revolutionise your business.

And it’s not only the inventors, implementers or innovators who are choosy about technology. In-house end users are influenced by this too. When our personal lives are automated and enhanced by technology, we increasingly expect the same experience at work. Your COO wants you to know the business case for updating legacy IT is the business case for your recruitment strategy.

Digital transformation is everyone’s challenge - and it’s ongoing

Often, readying a business for future challenges requires more than smarter systems. It can require an entire reset of cultural practices, attitudes and approaches to work.

As a result, the work is rightly and necessarily incremental. Rather than viewing this as one large-scale project with wide-scale implications and interruptions, your COO wants you to know digital transformation is the constant, calm and measured pursuit of your technological potential.

Because technology is developing at pace, one of the key shifts in thinking is to consider improvement as a way of life, not just a short-term project.

A culture of innovation might be needed. This impacts how progress is funded in terms of both investment, time and resource.

Legacy IT can be leveraged

Vanson Bourne’s survey of 100 IT leaders at businesses with more than 1,000 staff found that 90% of businesses are held back by legacy IT. 

Which also means 90% of businesses are running on legacy IT and removing it isn’t the only path to success.

Leveraging existing systems with smart updates, apps and integrations can deliver the benefits, cost and time savings business growth demands. Simple digital enhancements can put a mobile app in the palm of a shop floor worker, an automated and accurate report on the desk of a senior leader, and deliver a security update that assures compliance.

Your COO wants you to know in many cases, legacy IT is perfectly viable. Integration may be the keycard to success and striking the right tech balance takes an optimal mix of applications and careful consideration of the latest innovations.

Don’t introduce tech for the sake of it

Stats and buzzwords proliferate the tech industry. Big data, blockchain, AI, VR ... even the phrase ‘digital transformation’ has become repeated to the point of saturation.

Implementing or integrating the latest technology must begin with a business need, not a fashion statement. It’s critical to evaluate which software solutions deliver key functionality to improve business processes and which will have the biggest impact on your growth strategy.

What are you trying to achieve and which technology will help you get there? And who do you need to help you on your way? Your COO wants you to know that however seductive the latest innovations, nothing is more important (or enduring) than a clear objective and a well-considered plan.

The truth about legacy IT your COO wants you to know

  • This project has far reaching benefits that will appeal to all stakeholders
  • The business case for updating legacy IT is the business case for your recruitment strategy
  • Continuous improvement is a way of life
  • In many cases, legacy IT is perfectly viable
  • Nothing is more important than a clear objective and a well-considered plan

How you choose to evaluate, replace, update or integrate your core systems will be driven by your business needs. But whether you build an in-house team or outsource to a specialist software development company, it’s worth considering how you’ll evaluate the success of digital change.

As Mark Raskino, vice president and Gartner fellow says: “You cannot scale what you do not quantify, and you cannot quantify what you do not define.” Despite this, half of CEOs have no measures for digital success. Read more in our article ‘The Stats CEOs Need to Measure Digital Transformation Success’.

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