While many companies continue to use legacy systems to deliver specific functionalities, over a third of enterprises believe their on-premise platforms are a barrier to compete in an increasingly connected world. This understanding arises from an increased awareness of legacy design challenges and other research that confirms the indisputable advantage of modernization such as MIT CISR’s discovery that companies who achieve digital transformation tend to enjoy margins 16 percentage points higher than their industry’s average.
However, deciding on the right modernization approach is not easy, especially for companies who can’t retire their current IT systems that serve as the backbone of their business. This is where API integration can help organizations realize the full value of transformation without compromising the integrity of existing legacy infrastructure or requiring additional capital expenditure.
Legacy systems, which are often decades old, tend to be integral to mission-critical operations. But because they were built in a different time, they do not support the implementation and adoption of modern applications and technologies like the Cloud, Big Data, or IoT. And that makes it increasingly difficult to compete in a data-heavy, connected world. To illustrate this challenge, legacy systems struggle most with three core design areas:
Companies bound to legacy systems are unable to adapt their technology to changing customer demands, increased connectivity needs and rising competition. Because they run on outdated code, it becomes hard to maintain, support, improve, and integrate with new systems due to incompatible design. Attempt to change one module or update one component and you risk creating a myriad other conflicts across the system. This creates a significant barrier to digital transformation and business agility.
Legacy software was designed to serve a specific purpose. And while the system may still be able to carry out that specific functionality, it can be highly unstable due to lack of compatibility, vendor support, and maintenance. For example, since most legacy software is no longer supported by the vendor, it doesn’t receive regular updates to fix bugs and stability issues. What’s more, the generation of IT professionals who know how to patch the system have likely moved on or retired, leaving the company vulnerable to security breaches.
Our world is becoming increasingly more connected. Today, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data using numerous applications and devices. And as a result, businesses are needing to find systematic ways to connect and process that data in order to unlock information critical to their business, their market, their product, and their customers. Unfortunately, legacy systems are not fit to meet today’s data needs which makes it especially difficult to accommodate the rise of the mobile workforce. If you cannot access business applications when and where you need them most, you’re at risk for losing customers and revenue.
What should a company do about their outdated legacy systems?
Legacy systems are integral to the operations of many companies. They’re highly unique in their functionality and can differentiate one company from another. That makes them extremely difficult to retire given their size and complexity. As such, businesses must weigh their options when choosing how to modernize and stay relevant in their market. Choosing to do nothing about their legacy systems could render a company irrelevant or obsolete. However, making the wrong choice could lead to more pain, money, and IT complexity.
Point-to-point legacy system integration is a very basic, but rigid integration method. It’s often used as a quick fix for infrastructure problems; however, it can easily lead to an IT mess with the addition of more custom code. The more architectural components you need to integrate, the more complex your IT system gets. Point-to-point integration also tightly couples each component and never reuses them which means that fixing a single problem or replacing something can collapse the entire system. Consequently, this approach makes it impossible for companies to scale and accommodate emerging IT requirements.
To achieve digital transformation, do you need to completely replace legacy systems? That’s the big question that has major cost implications. The short answer is no. Not all legacy products can even be replaced which means that remodeling your core processes to accommodate a new full-stack purchase is not necessarily wise. It is far more cost-effective to explore ways to make existing IT assets more responsive. So, while staying competitive requires you to change aspects of your operations, modernization does not require a complete transformation of your IT stack.
Solving legacy system challenges with API Integration
In order to resolve the challenges of outdated infrastructure, you need a cost-effective solution that enables you to securely and quickly access and process essential business data from any device. And you need a solution that makes it easier for you to adopt new technologies and platforms in order to maintain a competitive edge in your market. That’s where API integration can help.
Application programming interfaces (APIs) are the key to giving new life to legacy systems. And that’s because they’re more than just a technical interface that sits on top of your database; they function as a complete business model that empowers your company to stay agile and utilize emerging technologies without needing to rip out and replace existing legacy infrastructure.
Benefits of API integration
These are just a few ways that API integration helps companies address their legacy system challenges and achieve modernization without abandoning current IT investments. In addition to these benefits, the role of a sound API strategy in digital transformation can unlock more opportunities for growth. For more insights, read our previous post, Accelerate Enterprise Digital Transformation with a sound API Strategy.