Megaphone announcement time to update on billboard
PHOTO: Shutterstock

Digital transformation is a complicated process with many different moving parts. Organizations that initiate a digital transformation strategy need to look at the enterprise, and all the different parts that contribute to its success, or failure, as the case may be. Enterprise leaders need to look at employee experience, customer experience, desired outcomes, existing infrastructure — and all that in respect of clear business goals.

Digital Transformation Needs

The principal objective with these strategies is to transform business operations and revolutionize customer service. The result is that digital experience and transformation spending is expected to approach $7.4 trillion between 2020 and 2023, representing a CAGR of over 17% during the period in question. 

One of the main elements that organizations will have to look at is their technology stack and investments in technology made over the years before digital transformation became a priority. Research from Columbus, Ohio-based Veeam, indicates that almost half of global organizations are being hindered in their digital experience and transformation journeys because of unreliable, legacy technologies with 44% citing lack of IT skills or expertise as another barrier to success.

The Veeam 2020 Data Protection Trends Report (registration required) surveyed more than 1,500 global enterprise leaders. Almost every company admitted to experiencing downtime, with one out of every 10 servers having unexpected outages each year — problems that last for hours and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars — pointing to an urgent need to modernize data protection and focus on business continuity to enable digital experience.

The finding is even more important taken in the context of Gartner research earlier this month that shows that 74% of CFOs intend to increase remote work at their organization after the coronavirus outbreak. To succeed in a world of increased remote work, the report reads, hiring managers should prioritize digital dexterity and digital collaboration skills. Human resources departments must consider how the context of remote work shifts performance management, particularly how goals are set and how employees are evaluated.

The subtext here also says that to enable this kind of change, existing technologies need to be able to support this kind of working. Does this all this mean, though, that legacy platforms, and collaboration platforms, do not have a role in the new digital workplace.

Adaptable Systems

Jonathon Wright is co-founder of UK-based QA Lead, a QA community for software development. He said that increasingly, they are seeing that legacy collaboration software is not going to be able to help us work much longer. If 2020 has shown us anything, it is that we need systems in place that are easily adaptable to anything that we might experience.

“The massive shift to working from home that we saw with the onset of COVID-19 is a great example of that,” he said. “The tools that we use to work need to allow that to happen in a way that doesn't impede business. Legacy tools, while great when people are at the office or for when one or two people aren't in the office, don't allow us to collaborate effectively when the whole company is remote.”

Platform Interoperability

There is a need for solutions that can exist across all platforms, from phones and tablets, to desktops and laptops.If we cannot effortlessly shift from one device to another, it does not work, Matt Erickson marketing director at Los Angeles-based National Positions, told us.Even something as simple as receiving a notification on your phone when a colleague has finished part of a project can make a huge difference.

Many legacy software stacks paved the way for demand and competition, but that is not enough. The legacy stack also has a responsibility to keep moving the goalposts forward if they intend to remain relevant in our highly productive world. If they do not, sooner or later a competitor will come on the market that will pull market share and may eventually sink the legacy product.

Consider all the tools — or even platforms — that Google has launched and then quietly (or not so quietly) eliminated due to low adoption or from simply missing the boat.  “There is a reason that big tech is making endless acquisitions,” he said. “It is easier to buy and apply the latest advancements than to keep building from the ground up,” he said.

Leaving Legacy Platforms in Place

For some people, though legacy platforms are not necessarily a bad thing. There is clearly an argument to be made on both sides, Yaniv Masjedi of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Nextiva told us. This is especially true where companies have invested heavily in expensive technologies over a long period of time. “We are aware that for some people the old legacy platforms aren’t a terrible option. Obviously we skew towards the more modern tools, but we are also acutely aware of the things against them,” he said.

Masjedi added that sometimes a bad tool that you know how to use can be better than a new tool that you will need to learn. An important incentive for many to stick with their legacy systems is that they may have already paid for those systems, meaning they are lower cost for those people. “If you are starting from scratch, always go with a modern setup, but if money is tight and you have an existing and paid for legacy system, don’t be afraid to use it,” he said.

Michael Miller is CEO of Portland, Ore.-based VPN Online. He agreed with Masjedi. “If you still have this legacy software and it still works for you, then, by all means, use it,” he said. “As they say, why fix something that isn't broken?”

However, it's different if you need software for a remote team. Then, it would be best if you get a new one. Legacy systems helped lay the groundwork, but these systems do not fit in with the needs of a remote workforce. They are already slow and obsolete, and with such a strain on infrastructure it would be better off with something new. Legacy systems are hard to integrate with new software. It will only slow you down if you insist on using legacy software. “Times have changed a lot. Speed and integration have been the focus in the last decade. Adopting agile tools is the name of the game now and if you still haven't taken the leap, then maybe it's about time,” he said.