Legacy Modernization


In this rapidly digitizing world, legacy systems can become a bottleneck for your organization’s growth. The issue is because these systems are outdated, require a massive budget for maintenance, and most importantly, aren’t competent enough with modern solutions. On the other hand, new systems save costs in the long run, unlock new business opportunities, and improve customer experience.

Still, many organizations stick with old systems as they believe legacy modernization is expensive, takes years to give results, and many more myths.

In this article, we will debunk five myths on legacy modernization and discuss why it is essential.

Let’s dive in!

Debunking 5 Popular Myths of Legacy Modernization

Firstly, let’s understand what legacy modernization is.

Essentially, legacy modernization is the process of converting, replacing, or transforming your old IT infrastructure to modern systems.

So, why is there a need to modernize legacy systems?

Let me ask you, why do you replace your computer with a new one or why upgrade a software application?

To improve efficiency, unlock new features, and much more, right?

Similarly, legacy modernization improves the overall efficiency of an organization giving better customer outcomes. Apart from this, it saves costs, makes the IT infrastructure more secure, and unlocks new business opportunities.

You must wonder how legacy modernization improves business performance?

Say you are an e-commerce store. You upgraded your supply chain management system to deliver products the next day. Thanks to this, more customers will buy from your store to get faster delivery of the product.

Not only an e-commerce store but a payment service can also upgrade their systems to settle remittances as early as possible. Also, a healthcare service can serve patients better by upgrading its legacy systems. There can be many such business examples.

Long story short, legacy modernization will help you serve your customers better.

Now that you know the benefits of legacy modernization, let’s discuss the popular myths around it.

1. Legacy Systems Are Too Expensive to Modernize

What’s the first thought in your mind while preparing a legacy modernization plan for your organization?

Budget, isn’t it?

Yes, legacy modernization requires capital. But guess what, when you do the math, the cost of upgrading your existing IT infrastructure is significantly lesser than maintaining your legacy systems over time.

And most importantly, you can control the costs of modernizing your legacy systems. For example, some organizations go for an entirely rip-and-replace of their existing legacy systems. On the other hand, many prefer a gradual replacement, augmentation, or continuation (not recommended). You can choose amongst all such modernization strategies depending on your goals and budget.

Let’s discuss these strategies one-by-one.

Incremental Replacement refers to gradually reducing your dependency on legacy systems using popular methods like Strangler Fig Application. Slowly transferring your in-house database to the cloud is an example.

As for augmentation, it is a method where you adopt a new system that runs alongside your IT infrastructure legacy. Here, you can choose to run your new system independently or orchestrate it with your legacy system. For example, you can use GraphQL while keeping all your existing systems running.

Lastly, another not-so-suitable approach for legacy modernization is the continuation. In this method, you make gradual improvements to your older systems and keep them running.

2. Legacy Modernization Is Not Needed At All

Unfortunately, many executives still believe that legacy systems are utilities. Therefore, there is no need to modernize the existing IT infrastructure. Nonetheless, legacy systems are the most significant barrier to success in this digital-first and competitive landscape.

Imagine you stick to legacy CRM systems that cannot communicate with each other. What happens next? Your customer base starts dwindling due to poor customer service. Your customers will now prefer your competitor who has upgraded their CRM infrastructure.

Still skeptical?

Here are three primary reasons for you to modernize your legacy systems.

  • Lack of workforce

Legacy systems use languages such as COBOL or Natural. As the world evolves and new, more efficient programming languages are gaining popularity, hiring people for outdated coding languages is becoming difficult.

Take this recent incident, for example — During the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey’s unemployment numbers skyrocketed, and residents had a tough time filing insurance claims online as the system crashed. Not to mention, the insurance filing systems were outdated and over 40 years old. As a result, Governor Phil Murphy had to appeal for experienced COBOL developers to restore the system.

  • Maintaining Legacy Systems Is Expensive

Legacy systems can drain the bankroll of your organization as they are expensive to maintain. The operations and maintenance of the legacy systems cost are about $80 billion of the total $100 billion IT expenditure in the U.S alone. That’s a whopping 80% of their IT expenses.

  • Cyber Security Threats

According to an IBM report, the average cost of addressing data breach issues in 2020 was 10.1 million CAD for the healthcare industry, 8.2 million CAD for financial services, and $7.1 million in the tech industry.

Considering such massive costs of cyber attacks, it only makes sense to modernize legacy IT systems. The problem is because older technologies are impossible to protect against specific cyber-attacks.

3. Legacy Modernization Takes Years to Achieve Expected Results

There is no denying that every organization has unique IT requirements. However, no matter how ambitious your modernization goals are. You can always reduce the time-to-value factor by properly implementing your IT system while modernizing how you work. Efficient workflows must accompany new approaches to achieve better results.

To answer your question, it doesn’t take decades or costs a fortune for your new systems to give desired results.

Here are some fundamental principles to follow to reduce the time-to-value factor of your new systems –

  • Include both the functional and technical teams of your organization while upgrading to new systems.
  • Well-outlined customer outcomes should be your modernization plan.
  • To achieve optimal results, define success for your new system (results you anticipate) and deploy fast feedback loops.

4. Legacy Modernization Is Just a ‘Tech Upgrade’

Some organizations take legacy modernization initiatives as a pilot project like just another tech upgrade. Also, as the modernization plan is a test run for many organizations, they don’t allocate enough resources to succeed.

Nonetheless, you should know that modernizing your existing IT systems has several benefits. These include cost savings in the long run, enhanced business opportunities, improved overall productivity, and, most importantly, robust security. Keeping this in mind, you should not consider legacy modernization as just a tech upgrade. Instead, it would be best if you treated modernization as the need of the hour to sustain an ever-evolving tech space.

5. We Should Wait Until Our Modernization Plan Is Perfect

Modernizing your old systems will take forever if you focus on technical perfection instead of achieving the desired customer outcomes. In this digital landscape, technology is evolving at a never-before rate. So there will always be a better technological solution every passing year. Thus, waiting for the ‘perfect system’ or a perfect modernization plan is not wise.

Instead of searching for a perfect system, you should go for flexible ones that can meet your organization’s scaling and other requirements in the future.

The Bottom Line

Legacy modernization is worth your investment. It will significantly enhance your business performance while saving costs in the long run. Also, you can choose your style of modernizing your legacy systems. Be it totally replacing your old systems or incrementally upgrading them, and you can upgrade depending on your requirements and budget.

Contact Us if you are looking to modernize your legacy product.


Deval Patel