In business, experience means a lot. Over the years of working with people, you can better understand their needs and expectations and adapt your services to reach better customer satisfaction. The use of technology allows bringing the interaction between business and customers to an entirely new level. Modern software solutions can collect, store, and process customer information which helps to develop new insights and make data-driven decisions. The bad news is that, unlike your business skills, software systems don’t get better over the years.
If your company has been on the market for a significant amount of time, most probably, it’s time to ask yourself if your software systems are out of date. The application you are used to over the years of work may still perform required daily business tasks. Still, functionality hidden from human eyes behind interface elements can be a source of problems that you don’t even think about.
Nowadays, it’s all about the information. The system you’re using may have been designed in such a way that some of the data you use is redundant, outdated, or has minimum to zero value to your current business needs. Fortunately, you don’t have to start from scratch if you use a legacy system. In most cases, you can rely on legacy system integration that can allow you to leverage modern technologies without significant efforts and relatively small investment.
When to Start Worrying
First of all, let’s determine if there’s a real need for legacy app integration. In the case of software solutions, we consider a product as a legacy system if its functionality and design don’t match the industry’s current standards. As you can imagine, due to the fast pace of development in IT, the path from a cutting-edge solution to a vintage piece of software doesn’t take much time. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to clog your head with legacy system integration issues every year after adopting a new software system. Luckily, things don’t get old so fast. But if you are using a system that’s been around for decades, probably, it’s time to think about breathing new life into it.
Legacy systems can cause confusion in your work due to outdated business processes and data standards that were part of the mainstream at the time of their appearance. It’s pretty hard to imagine a modern company whose operations don’t rely on software systems. As a result, legacy solutions that use data processing approaches from the past decade and are the very backbone of business processes can cause multiple issues. For example, poor data security and lack of compatibility with other applications can become a real headache.
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Legacy system integration is a solution allowing to overcome described drawbacks. The main idea behind legacy system integration is to expose your current system’s data to the enterprise-wide software solution or the cloud that can be achieved through APIs. The increased compatibility of your legacy system with new applications can also allow you to transform previously collected information into the currently used formats. This feature of legacy system integration can facilitate the usage of earlier unavailable data and enable the application of AI and ML algorithms.
Legacy system integration can bring dozens of benefits. For example, you can be assured of better performance. In addition, cutting-edge technologies allow building apps that work smoothly on desktops, smartphones, and tablets, so you’ll never face lags or freezes again. Or, at least, the probability of their appearance will be relatively low.
In legacy systems, some critical info may become unavailable and forgotten due to design flaws, so your organization will lose the ability to recognize some basic patterns. However, legacy system integration can be a solution that allows reconsidering the current approach to using information and focusing on what’s really important in terms of current events and historical data.
Suppose you don’t entirely rely on legacy systems. In that case, there’s a lower chance that when you decide that it’s time for integration, you face the necessity to find a specialist who can write code in ancient programming languages. On the contrary, if you follow the latest trends in software development, there are more chances that you won’t experience any efforts if there is a need to expand your system’s functionality in the future.
If you deal with sensitive information, legacy system integration can be a considerable step towards data compliance standards. Say, if you work in the healthcare industry in the US, the laws strictly define how you should collect and process the data and what rules your system has to follow while providing users with access to the data. Besides, unobstructed data flow can simplify integration with third-party tools and applications.
Problems You May Encounter along the Way
Unfortunately, sometimes not everything goes as planned. In some cases, during the legacy system integration process, you can face some unpleasant surprises. The good news is that they’re well-known, and there’s a well-tested solution for almost all of them. For example, if developers will have to deal with a decades-old system, there’s the chance that they face a lack of necessary documentation. Without the strict knowledge of the architecture specifics and changes made during the years of patching, the only way to avoid possible problems is to develop a set of standards and processes for the future.
Some systems have a modular structure that allows separating the overall functionality into a set of modules, each with its area of responsibility. As your needs grow, developers can build new modules and add them to the system so it’ll better fit your needs. However, legacy system integration can bring new challenges caused by their monolithic architecture.
In such a case, the system can’t be divided into a set of pieces, each of which makes a tiny part of the job, which leads to additional integration complexities. The possible workaround is to perform an architectural audit whose main aim is to select the parts of your legacy system that you’ll prefer to keep rather than implementing this functionality from scratch. But, of course, it’s also essential to plan how developers will make these parts of a legacy system work with the new software solution.
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Once again, if you work with sensitive data, such as your clients’ personal information, it’s essential to pay due attention to security issues. The use of legacy systems is a vulnerability in itself. The integration process exposes the data stored in the system and transfers it to another app or cloud storage. As you can imagine, it can be fraught with some dangers. If you don’t want to risk your reputation, make sure that you deal with a developer with enough expertise in legacy application modernization.
Some think that if a software system works, there’s no reason to invest in upgrading. After all, there are more valuable investments in business than legacy software integration—for example, advertising, marketing, or improving your supply chain strategy. In fact, legacy systems are no less important than any other asset you have at your disposal, so paying due attention to their current state is a must. Timely integration can help you avoid data leakage and enable the development of new insights thanks to the implementation of data processing techniques that follow the latest trends.
If your business suffers from using a legacy system and you want to change that, please contact us.