Modernizing IT: Three things companies should do instead of ripping out legacy systems

A recent story in WIRED described how towns across the U.S. are un-paving roads they simply can’t afford to fix. The town leaders know that new roads would be best, but don’t have the cash to fix them. They see a dirt road as a better alternative to a road riddled with potholes. 

The folks in charge of enterprise systems today – CIO’s, IT directors, etc. – are facing a similar problem. They have outdated, legacy systems that make it difficult for workers to find the information and complete the tasks they need to do their jobs. New systems – namely from SaaS providers – claim better efficiencies, cost savings, and a better environment for innovation, but the investments are simply out of reach for many IT teams and the reality is that they really do not offer a better experience than existing solutions. Just like roads filled with potholes, there is now a decision to make: should companies fix them completely, upgrade them, tear them down, or do nothing? 

We’ve seen this time and again in our discussions with IT teams, CIOs, and business leaders. The director of ecommerce at a major retailer used legacy systems that forced store buyers to look up every SKU across every store in a green screen terminal to determine each store’s inventory. The process took two weeks. After they got a better grasp of store inventory, the buyers would then send emails to store managers telling them what to mark up or down based on the results. The process was incredibly time consuming and outdated. 

In this instance, the company simply didn’t have the option to rip out the ‘roads’ they had previously built complex workflows and data for thousands of items across hundreds of stores were stored in the system. They started using Sapho as an alternative, which sat on top of their existing systems and allowed the company to automatically surface real-time notifications to store buyers when inventory had changed beyond a certain threshold. Buyers could then simply push out a markup or markdown based on inventory to all of the stores. What was once a manual, two-week process became instantaneous. Now store managers get a notification when they should change a price (or if a shipment is delayed) instead of waiting for a biweekly email. And all without having to rip out and replace old systems. 

Many companies are faced with a similar situation to the above retailer. Their systems and processes are too complicated and time-consuming for an employee to get work done quickly. But how can companies modernize their legacy systems and update these workflows, without completely ripping up the road they’ve already laid out? Here are three things companies can do: 

  1. Break down information siloes. Information silos keep employees from getting a complete view of the information they need to do their jobs. Often times, related information sits across multiple systems and employees must log into each to pull the data they need. In addition each department in an organization has its own applications, which often prevents outside employees from pulling important information. Even when employees ask another department for a report they need – which can take weeks – they might get the report back and have to restructure all of the data so it’s aligned with the data they already have.
  2. Become more predictive. Outdated software doesn’t anticipate what users will need: it simply stores data and events that have occurred and forces employees to use the software to find out if anything interesting has happened. Modern enterprise software that leverages machine learning has the potential to analyze trends in data and predict what’s next. For example, it can anticipate that when the HR team removes a job listing, the IT team should be notified that a new hire will start soon and will need a new computer, company logins, and training.
  3. Embrace push computing. Pushing relevant and personalized data and actionable activities to employees is essential to making legacy systems easier to use as employees no longer need to access these system to find what they are looking for. By aggregating important data and tasks, pulling it into a simple, actionable newsfeed, and pushing it to relevant employees, employees can now easily take action, rather than letting a request sit for weeks. 

When it comes to dealing with legacy systems, IT teams don’t have to rip them out and start from scratch. IT modernization solutions can go a long way in saving money and improving company workflows – and thus making employees more productive. By breaking down information silos, implementing machine learning, and transitioning to a “push” paradigm, IT systems will be a tool that your employees will actually want to use because it will save them time and effort and enable them to make the best decisions for your business. 

Want to learn more about how IT is using Sapho Modern Portal to modernize their legacy systems?


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Natalie Lambert

Natalie Lambert is the Vice President of Marketing at Sapho. She joins from Citrix where she held multiple product marketing leadership positions. Before that, Natalie was a principal analyst at Forrester Research where she was the leading expert on end user computing.

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