The difference between digital and analogue businesses is all about speed. It’s the reason that cheeky upstarts have left well-resourced, powerful established businesses in the dust. Taxi businesses haven’t been able to defend against Uber and Lyft, retail giants have been sinking into the primordial soup behind Amazon despite opening themselves up to e-commerce, and vehicle manufacturers aren’t managing to squeeze through any cracks in Tesla electric vehicle market share.
To stay on par with the former, it is essential to eliminate anything that hinders speed – and that’s your legacy tech. Legacy refers to outdated software and hardware systems that were once widely used but have been surpassed by more advanced and reliable technologies. These legacy systems pose challenges due to their obsolete architecture, poor security, lack of compatibility with new technologies, and the need for costly and time-consuming upgrades.
Legacy software and hardware
Legacy can manifest in both hardware and IT systems. In the case of hardware legacy, the main issue is that these long-standing foundational structures directly hinder compatibility with Industry 4.0 processes.
While not all older items are considered legacies, it is crucial to assess the compatibility, scalability, and longevity of hardware resources, particularly those with lifespans of 20-50 years.
This also refers to deeply entrenched systems and code that are resistant to change. Upgrading to newer, more efficient systems can be challenging due to the cost, training requirements, and potential disruption to regular operations. Legacy code written in older programming languages can be difficult to maintain and update, further deterring organisations from upgrading or changing their software. Developing interfaces between existing and modern systems can also be costly and time-consuming.
Legacy tech is holding back growth
Legacy processes within Industry 4.0 can impede progress, as they tend to clash with new technologies and hinder the adoption of digital workflows and processes. Transitioning to Industry 4.0 requires careful planning, identifying processes to keep or replace, considering cost and compatibility, and addressing the challenge of retaining legacy processes while embracing Industry 4.0 advancements.
These systems were designed to meet the needs of a different era, and their limitations can impede a company’s growth potential. Here are some key reasons why legacy system modernisation is crucial for business growth:
- Embracing Technological Advancements: Modernising legacy systems enables businesses to take advantage of the latest technological advancements. New technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics can revolutionise operations, streamline processes, and unlock new opportunities. By upgrading legacy systems, businesses can harness the power of these technologies and stay competitive in their industry.
- Enhanced Efficiency and Productivity: Legacy systems often lack the efficiency and productivity features offered by modern solutions. Outdated software may have limited functionalities, slow response times, and complex workflows. By modernising these systems, businesses can streamline their processes, automate repetitive tasks, and improve overall efficiency. This, in turn, leads to increased productivity, reduced operational costs, and improved customer satisfaction.
- Scalability and Flexibility: Legacy systems are typically rigid and difficult to scale or modify. As businesses grow and evolve, they need systems that can adapt to changing requirements. Modernising legacy systems allows for scalability and flexibility, ensuring that the technology infrastructure can support business expansion and easily accommodate future changes and innovations.
- Integration and Interoperability: Legacy systems often operate in isolation, making it challenging to integrate them with new technologies or external systems. This lack of integration hampers data flow, collaboration, and real-time decision-making. Modernising legacy systems enables businesses to achieve seamless integration and interoperability with other systems, applications, and platforms. This integration facilitates data exchange, enhances collaboration, and enables businesses to leverage the power of connected ecosystems.
- Enhanced Security and Compliance: Legacy systems are more susceptible to security vulnerabilities and may lack the robust security measures required in today’s digital landscape. Outdated software may not receive regular security updates, exposing businesses to potential breaches and data leaks. Just the other day, MLC Life Insurance got hit with a $10 million fine where the failings of their legacy tech played a key role in the finding against them. Modernising legacy systems ensures that security measures are up to date, protecting sensitive data and ensuring compliance with industry regulations.
- Talent Retention and Attraction: In the modern job market, top talent seeks opportunities to work with cutting-edge technologies. Businesses relying on outdated legacy systems may struggle to attract and retain skilled professionals who prefer working with modern tools and platforms. By modernising their systems, companies can create a more attractive work environment and retain top talent, driving innovation and growth.
- Customer Experience: The digital era has transformed customer expectations, demanding seamless and personalised experiences. Legacy systems often lack the capabilities to deliver the level of customer experience customers now expect. By modernising systems, businesses can leverage data analytics and automation to gain insights into customer behaviour, provide personalised services, and deliver exceptional experiences that drive customer loyalty and growth.
Don’t chuck it all in the bin just yet
Overcoming legacy tech is very complex and involves strategic approaches. One of the reasons that ‘upstarts’ are getting ahead is because they don’t have established tech and can start off with the most cutting-edge solutions. It’s the difference between building a brand-new house and renovating a historic one.
But rebuilding from scratch, although tempting, must consider risks and deployment timelines. An alternative is gradually replacing smaller pieces of the legacy system, focusing on inter-tangled parts and defined interfaces. Another option involves integrating new systems with existing legacy ones, reducing complexity over time.
Legacy systems are still in use due to the need for access to certain data or applications, customisation to business needs, or cost considerations. However, maintaining and updating legacy systems can present challenges related to outdated technology, security vulnerabilities, and lack of modern features. Modernising a legacy system can involve transitioning to newer technology or replacing the system entirely.
In summary, legacy processes pose significant challenges to Industry 4.0 upgrades. Companies must understand their existing legacy processes and navigate the risks associated with them to successfully transition. Strategies such as internal upskilling, process integration, legacy software management, and automation can help overcome these challenges. By embracing Industry 4.0, businesses can achieve increased efficiency, productivity, cost savings, and improved customer service. The best part is that overcoming legacy processes and modernising presents incredible opportunities for companies willing to take the necessary steps to upgrade!
Let our MSP in Melbourne deliver the tech you need to grow
At Otto, we’re not here to sell you an IT product – we’re here to be your IT department and find the right ways to use IT in your business. We’ll design a system within your budget and designed for your operation, training your team, and making sure you have the best IT protection for your business. If you’re running legacy systems and want to understand your options, talk to us today.