Legacy Systems in Business Slow Collaboration, Says AODocs

Posted by David Jones, Guest Blogger, AODocs

Jul 07, 2020


The software that your organization uses to manage information and processes is failing you. It has limited features, it’s hard-to-use, it’s costing a lot of money just to keep it maintained, and last, but not least, it’s becoming a repellent for young staff who don’t want to work with ugly, dated systems. 

So-called legacy enterprise software is now starting to look seriously dated, which isn’t surprising given that many of the applications people continue to use were designed and built in an era before mobile phones and cloud technology even existed. 

Back in the day, these legacy systems in business did do a good job when they were implemented but are now patently not fit for purpose. 

So what has changed?

New Technologies

Hand with new ram data for computerTechnology has something called Moore’s Law that, to paraphrase, says that computers double in speed, capacity and more every 18 months. The law was observed based on the number of transistors that could be squeezed onto a computer chip, but now can be seen to apply much more widely across the technology spectrum. The law is often used to illustrate the speed at which technology moves - incredibly fast, and increasing all the time. 

Just think about this for a second in relation to your corporate software systems. 

I’m going to guess that many were installed over 5 years ago, on in-house servers (aka on-premises), and are a pain in the backside to use. Not only are these systems difficult to use in the office, but COVID showed us exactly how fragile these on-premise systems are - many of them cannot be accessed remotely without expensive, bulky VPN setups, simply adding more legacy technology to the IT stack. 

Now consider how much technology has moved on since you installed those systems. Even if these systems were "best in class" five years ago, with Moore's law they are now 10 times less powerful (go on - you can do the math!) than the new best in class and will be 100 times behind just 5 years from now. 

Technician walking in hallway of server room

On the other hand, it is not practical to change your hardware on a yearly basis, which means that as long as your systems are on-premise, you are necessarily using obsolete technology. 

The alternative of course is the cloud. 

Cloud software runs on state of the art data centers, constantly updated and upgraded by the cloud providers, and offers instant access to applications from any internet-connected device, from anywhere in the world, at any time of day - it does not require you to be in the office, or even connected to the office via a VPN. The current requirement to work from home for many people due to COVID has brought this realization starkly into view for many execs who didn’t think cloud was relevant before - it certainly is now.

Add to that the fact that cloud technology stacks provide massive ROI and it becomes even more compelling. For example, consider our business of storing digital documents. To store 100 TB of files on-premises would require numerous servers, racks of disk arrays, disaster recovery, dedicated admin staff, and more. To do that in the cloud would cost well under $10K per year - a massive saving. Above and beyond the cost savings, cloud systems also provide real-time access and a level of redundancy that is hard to achieve with your own data-centers. As a result, your on-premises data-centers are just not good enough anymore.

New Workers

In addition to new technology, organizations are seeing a whole new generation of employees entering the work market. These digital natives have grown up using modern technology. In 2016, 58% of the devices shipped to primary and secondary schools in the US were Google Chromebooks, and by 2019 that translated to over 30 million students and educators. The students using those devices are now in the job market, and more will follow. 

260x230 growth

These users are, by definition, digital and have two really important characteristics:

  1. They expect applications that are easy to use, intuitive and accessible - oh and with mobile and tablet versions by default. 
  2. They are application agile - this means that if an application is not working for them, they simply delete it and move to an alternative. If that doesn’t work for them, they move on again - rinse and repeat.

These two characteristics are completely at odds with most traditional, legacy applications operating within organizations today. So something has to give. You either keep the legacy systems and run the risk of not being able to keep digital native staff or even worse, not being able to recruit them in the first place - or you modernize. Tough choice. 

Modernization is the Answer

We are now at an inflection point where modern, cloud-based systems can radically change the way in which we look at work. Areas such as enabling collaborative editing of documents, remote mobile approval of workflows, powering work from home initiatives, and ultimately ensuring we are attractive as employers to the current generation of workers are not part of the organization of the future, but requirements for the organization of today.

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David Jones, Guest Blogger, AODocs

David Jones is an information management professional with more than 20 years’ experience. As VP of Marketing at AODocs, David develops the global go-to-market strategy and execution plan for AODocs modern, intelligent Content Services Platform. David was formerly a VP of Marketing with Nuxeo, and has held leadership roles with AIIM, Konica Minolta and Hyland. David is Vice Chairman and an elected member of the AIIM Board of Directors.

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