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Are Legacy Systems Holding You Back?

Heather Mueller
March 2, 2021
Min Read

In many ways, we’re living in an era of accelerated innovation. Within a relatively short span of time, GPS apps have replaced maps, streaming services have made DVDs obsolete, and landline phones have become practically non-existent.

Yet at many enterprise organizations, it can be surprisingly difficult to bring new ideas to life.

How can this be?

Different experts offer up different explanations: an inability to map innovation efficiently, a lack of understanding when it comes to customer needs, an overemphasis on shareholder return. While these are all valuable viewpoints worth considering, the real underlying issue is sometimes much simpler. 

At a time when so many industries are moving so incredibly fast, the ability to innovate often comes down to technology.

When problems with legacy systems hinder productivity

Until a company’s technology empowers employees to do their best work, there will always be limits to how much creative thinking and innovation can take place. At the enterprise level in particular, this can be a big barrier.

An astounding 97% of surveyed IT leaders say legacy technology is holding them back. These systems are often cumbersome to manage and difficult to secure. They require constant updates and patches, and often experience significant downtimes.

In short, legacy systems slow people down. But the problems don’t stop there.

When legacy systems become too cumbersome and time-consuming, different departments will often respond by layering on SaaS apps and cloud-based services. And that results in some massive tech stacks.

The average enterprise now has 288 different SaaS apps in use across the business—an outsized number that’s clearly killing productivity and costing companies money.

One recent survey found that 69% of employees waste up to an hour of productivity each day just navigating apps. Another revealed workers switch between 35 job-critical apps more than 1,100 times a day, and that ineffective software and inefficient processes are severely impacting productivity.

It’s little wonder, then, that more than half of enterprise employees say they’re having a hard time getting essential work done—let alone finding time to think and create.

There has to be a better way.

Which is where digital agility comes in.

Digital agility improves cross-departmental collaboration and minimizes tech stacks by giving employees powerful tools that are flexible enough to fit everyone’s needs across departments.

Learn More: How Digital Agility Empowers Employees and Boosts Productivity

Choosing the right approach to modernize your legacy systems

For executives that want to secure growth through innovation, it can be tempting to focus on the big picture alone. But hiring consultants and analyzing processes will only take you so far.

If you really want to power productivity, it's important to look inward. And legacy systems are a great place to start.

Here’s why:

According to recent research, less than 10% of corporations are making real progress toward becoming more agile—and just 23% are actively working to change the way they operate. Although many large organizations are in the midst of digital transformation, it can be surprising to see just how many struggle to make the transition successfully and swiftly.

One potential explanation might lie in the need to simplify: Instead of expanding tech stacks further or focusing solely on integrating legacy systems, many organizations are finding success through digital agility. For example, rather than adopting different apps for different processes, many companies are instead focusing on finding a handful of no-code tools that are flexible enough to fit the various needs of multiple departments.

If that sounds like an overly simple solution, that’s because it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a legitimate legacy system modernization approach. In fact, we’ve seen something as simple as the decision to invest in a $50-a-month form builder end up leading to a $35,000 idea.

Bottom line: If you’re looking for ways to increase innovation and boost productivity, it pays to take a look at your technology. And there’s no better time than now. 

If you’d like to get a strong sense of where your enterprise currently stands on the digital transformation spectrum, take our digital maturity quiz to see what you can do to ensure your efforts are among the one-third of digital initiatives that succeed.


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Heather Mueller
Heather is a website copywriter and digital content strategist who loves helping brands generate leads through the power of the written word—especially when using Formstack. Connect with Heather on Twitter @heathermueller.
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