Do you remember the last time you used a compact disc? If your answer is yes, then it was probably the time when you needed a coaster to put a glass on. Even though CDs may still work just fine, there’s no practical application for them, as they’ve not been compatible with most laptops for almost a decade now. Similarly, there’s little to no use for today’s businesses to hold on tight to their legacy systems.

However, many companies continue to depend on outdated technologies, despite the fact that there’s plenty of more innovative systems on the market. They keep saying that the system has been working well enough to handle most of the tasks, so there’s no need to change anything. The JatApp team disagrees with this idea and would like to explain why modernization is actually a wise decision to make.

Why do businesses still rely on legacy systems?

A legacy system refers to an outdated technology that still performs its primary functions but doesn’t allow for growth. Apart from that, maintaining such software doesn’t come cheap. 

 

Legacy system limitations

Legacy systems limitations 

 

Why is it still in use then? The answer is quite simple: some technologies are difficult to replace, particularly those that handle core business operations within an organization. Organizations may end up having their sensitive data getting corrupted or even lost. On top of that, some businesses may simply fear that employees would resist legacy transformation or fail to adjust to a new way of working.

At first sight, it may seem challenging to embrace application modernization right away, but making this step is important for benefitting your organization in the long run. Let’s discuss five major reasons why you need to modernize your business today. 

5 reasons to get rid of your legacy system

Why bother about fixing a technology when it’s not broken? In fact, there are many reasons to replace your legacy system. One of the main problems with obsolete software is that it literally kills your budget. In 2019, the US Federal government allocated eighty percent of IT resources to maintenance. Moreover, the outdated technologies miss out on innovations, don’t work with modern software, pose a security threat, lack support specialists, and, finally, fail to satisfy customers’ needs

Legacy systems eat up your IT budget

The cost of maintaining the US government’s legacy technologies reaches an overwhelming $337 million dollars annually. If you’re spending up to 80% of the IT budget supporting your software, chances are that you don’t have any resources to drive your business forward. What’s more, these expenses will only grow, because technologies, unlike wine, don’t get better with age. 

Legacy systems are usually monolithic, which means that you can’t easily update one system module. Even a small change may lead to numerous errors across the system. By contrast, modern software relies on microservices architecture. For example, one of our recent clients, Cunio, built a property management platform with microservices, which enables the company to update software components independently. This approach helps to save the business both time and money. 

 

Cunio notification microservices

Cunio notification microservices

 

If your business still depends on a legacy system, be prepared to spend a fortune on supporting its infrastructure. Unlike cloud-based solutions, it’s difficult to optimize the storage space, since the data is spread across multiple databases. Collecting and organizing such data manually is both time-consuming and expensive.

Additionally, you may also need specific skills and expertise to maintain your legacy system. An organization may spend months searching for a talent to meet their needs. Unfilled job positions resemble a leaky bucket, draining your budget every single day. If you aren’t lucky to find necessary specialists, reskilling new people who aren’t familiar with your technologies will also translate into high costs.

Legacy systems miss out on technological advancement  

By using legacy systems, you leave less room for technological advancement. Instead of focusing on innovations, you invest all your resources into aging technologies, thereby overlooking new business opportunities. In such a way, your rivals have more chances to win competition and take over your market share . 

As an example, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has an outdated infrastructure developed long before the mobile banking age. The IBM mainframes are no longer able to meet the rising clients’ demands. Payment processing errors and blocked account access have become a daily routine for many RBS customers. 

Meanwhile, digital banking fosters the growth in consumer lending and deposits, as reported by Citigroup. Tesco Bank, a Scottish mobile bank, presents a direct competitor to the RBS with its user-friendly website and lightweight mobile app. It’s no wonder that the bank is poaching more and more RBS customers. 

 

Tesco Bank app functionality

Tesco Bank mobile app functionality

 

The costs of making a banking transaction at a physical bank is considerably higher than in a mobile banking application, which results in missed opportunities for a business. This means that banks that depend on outdated technologies risk being stuck with ancient point of sale (POS) terminals and manual support, while their rivals are embracing legacy modernization strategies to interact with their clients. 

Legacy systems don’t work with modern tech

Modern technologies often depend on the third-party application programming interfaces (APIs) to seamlessly access certain functionality, such as payment transactions, geolocation, user authentication, and the like. Unlike legacy systems that in most cases have to hire developers to build certain functionality from scratch, modern solutions can get the same features much faster thanks to APIs.  For example, when developing a travel tracking application, the JatApp team used Apple Maps API to build its core functionality – displaying a travel route for users. Instead of reinventing the wheel and building our own mapping service, we simply used a proven solution at significantly lower cost. 

 

Trip tracking feature

Trip tracking feature in the travel tracking app

 

API vendors usually offer support for modern programming languages, while outdated software often lacks such compatibility. Linking a legacy application to a third-party tool typically requires writing a custom code, which also costs a fortune. Besides, there’s no guarantee that the integration will work as expected. 

For instance, today there are many outdated Interactive Voice Response systems used for managing calls. Most of them were designed a decade ago and now present a standalone system. In order to add new features, like intelligent call routing or virtual queuing, contact centers need to spend a great deal of money on development. In some cases, third-party integrations aren’t even possible. 

Legacy systems pose a security risk

Legacy applications are more vulnerable to cyber attacks compared to modern cloud solutions. These technologies have been around for a long time now and, naturally, hackers could breach a system with decades-old security protocols without breaking a sweat. 

Another reason is that older systems usually lack vendor’s support. This means that no one makes sure that the technology is compliant with the recent security standards and requirements. Of course, you can try investing in security patches to maintain your software. However, this may get you into a vicious circle where you have new security breaches right after the previous ones were addressed. 

Software obsolescence was the main reason why a few years ago the US National Background Investigations Bureau was hacked. The organization has been operating without IT security workers for two consecutive years until the system was compromised. The legacy system couldn’t handle diverse data sources and increases in the mobile traffic, which affected its performance and led to the crash. 

The best talent doesn’t want to support legacy technologies 

The majority of legacy programmers who have been dealing with legacy software are now retiring. This means that finding relevant expertise can be quite hard and you’ll need to think of ways to attract the right talent. However, this also presents quite a challenge, as young and competent employees tend to refuse to work with technologies that fail to keep pace with competitors. From 2014 to 2019, organizations have lost 23% of their legacy systems workforce, from which a whopping 63% of job positions remain unfilled. 

 

Legacy developer erosion

Legacy developer erosion

 

The global pandemic has highlighted the weaknesses of many businesses that relied on legacy systems. For example, the increase in the unemployment rates in the last couple of years revealed the failure of the US unemployment systems to process a large number of requests. 

The system was developed more than forty years ago and has code written in a legacy language. The lack of legacy engineers has been one of the main reasons why it was hard to quickly introduce system changes. As a result, the ancient programs couldn’t tackle the cases of 13% of American workers who’ve lost their jobs due to Covid-19.  

 

Unemployment rate in the US

Historical statistics of unemployment in the United States

Our experience

JatApp has profound experience in transforming legacy software. We helped our Danish client to modernize an application for employee engagement. The company reached out to us with an almost-ready technology, which was poorly built and had numerous bugs. Even though the legacy code was incorrectly written and certain features, like GIFs and push notifications, didn’t work at all, the client refused to build the app from scratch. Instead, they insisted on refactoring this code and bug fixing. 

Refactoring is one of the legacy systems modernization approaches that allows to improve the internal structure of a software code without changing its function. It is a smart choice when you need to solve tech issues, alter the configuration, and make the existing code more efficient. 

Our team restructured the software code to make sure that the app features are working properly. As with most legacy technologies, the app lacked technical specifications. That’s why we had to figure out the problems in the code ourselves. 

 

Employee engagement app

Employee engagement app functionality

 

With our help, the client transformed its poorly working app into a fully functional easy-to-use solution. The app lets employees receive push notifications to rate how they feel during their workday and managers record videos to respond to workers’ mood. The application also has engagement surveys and gamification features to motivate employees to participate in these surveys. 

 

Working rating feature

Workday rating feature in the employee engagement app

Bottom line

Legacy software modernization will help you improve security of your business, take advantage of new market opportunities, have easier integrations, and cut down your maintenance costs. Last but not least, you won’t have to worry about finding tech talents who are able to update and support your software. 

If you’re on board with digital transformation, you’ll need to search for software vendors that can guarantee that your key data won’t be compromised or lost. JatApp has been re-engineering legacy software since 2015. We have clients from all over the world who report a 99% satisfaction rate. It’s not surprising that we have a five-star rating on Clutch and our projects last three years on average. 

You can have a free consultation with the JatApp team, so we can evaluate your current software and come up with a suitable legacy system modernization plan.