Adapt Or Die: The Dangers Of Hanging Onto Legacy Technologies


Steve Olenski

June 9, 2016

(AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

Despite the research that illustrates the benefits of digital transformation, many companies are still hanging onto their legacy systems as if their lives depended on it. When, in actual fact, the inability to adapt could eventually mean that their lives as companies will be put at risk. With the emergence of new companies that offer the digital tools and processes to transform, including, and Insightly, more companies are starting to understand the inherent opportunities in updating their technology frameworks.

The old adage of “adapt or die” that has its roots in Darwinism states that if an organism does not adapt to its environment, it will die. Only the fittest will survive, and those are the ones that transform themselves to live with a new environment. The same goes for companies and the changing technology environment around them that is now directed at the Digital Age.

Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends 2016

What’s So Bad About Legacy Systems Anyways?

While many companies are interested in digital transformations, including moving to the cloud, using IoT, or delivering software as a service, they assume that all they need to do is transform their computer resources. However, there is so much more to do, especially when a legacy system is standing in the way that is tied to network architecture, processes, skill sets or the company’s culture. Beyond changing the physical equipment, the legacy aspect goes deeper and requires you to rethink processes and retrain people in a well-planned, coordinated way often while continuing to operate within the old business model.

Don’t make these comprehensive changes and your company essentially dies, according to Christine Heckart, Chief Marketing Officer for Brocade.

More than 80% of the Fortune 500 companies from 20 years ago are no longer on the list. Many failed to make the transition to an Internet-based business in the late 1990s. Now, many companies on the list didn’t exist 20 years ago and were born as Internet-based businesses. The same fundamental transformation is happening but it’s a shift to digital business models and modern digital infrastructures. Companies that don’t make these changes will most likely lose relevance and suffer the same fate as those from the 1990s.”

Inherent Organizational Challenges And Stubborn Mindsets

The challenge with this transformation is not so much reluctance on the part of marketing organizations to change. Heckart noted it was the overall idea that change is hard and people may not have the skills, processes, and systems to support that transformation. Making it harder is the fact that she has seen that most sales organizations are even further behind, so marketing is struggling to transform since other groups they support are also stuck in the past .

However, some organizations like Google, Amazon, and Facebook have taken prime mover positions and already transitioned, gaining an advantage in terms of cost, business capabilities, security and innovation speed. They illustrate why companies must transition from legacy systems to digital technologies, providing the chance for competitiveness when the next wave of digital business hits.

Pathways To Digital Transformation

To assist companies make a complete transformation while still operating, Gartner has looked at what it calls bi-modal IT. One group keeps the lights on for the core business while a different group begins to operate in a whole new way, using new systems and networks, new automated processes, and new skills. This second group essentially supports a whole new business model.

In a similar way, Brocade developed a five-step model to help companies move along this curve. Heckart explained, “You can’t get to the innovative end state in one step. Instead, you have to move along the curve one step at a time.” A good example is Brocade’s work with AT&T, helping the company transform its network. As Andre Fuetsch, Senior Vice President of Architecture and Design at AT&T, explained, “As one of our vendor partners driving our network transformation, we are working toward satisfying customers’ demands on the network for virtual reality, IoT, and 4K video. Also, virtualizing the network is fast, efficient, and scalable. It lets the hardware ride the cost and performance curve of Moore’s Law. Lowering the cost to deliver a megabyte of data is one of the reasons we were recently able to bring back an unlimited data offer.”

The other part of the digital transformation equation does rely on the country’s need to upgrade its own legacy systems that frame our economy but are now running on a 20-year old IP network architecture that is not designed for a modern business era. The country is running on a system not cut out for IoT, big data, cloud computing and mobile nor can it accommodate the significant amounts of data that is now in use.

The Payoff For Digital Transformation

Other organizations, including sports teams like the San Francisco 49ers, are currently experiencing the payoff for their efforts to transform from legacy systems to digital technologies, according to Ethan Casson, Chief Operating Officer for the NFL team.

Technological enhancements have improved the at-home viewing experience for football fans and all televised sports so it’s critical for us as venue operators to respond to that public demand. We emphasized the use of an advanced technological infrastructure into the design and construction of Levi’s Stadium, enabling our fans to stay connected to the Internet at all times within our venue. Consistent, fast Internet connectivity was the key to unlocking a new world of in-stadium enhancements designed to help the live event experience incorporate advantages of the in-home experience, such as in-seat food and drink delivery, real-time instant replays on their personal devices, access to out-of-town scores and fantasy football stats, and the ability to chat with friends on social media.”

The team has also completely digitized ticketing and parking platforms.

The results of such a digital transformation have been incredible. According to networking partners and industry experts, Levi’s Stadium became the first venue to transfer 10TB of data over a Wi-Fi network during Super Bowl 50. In fact, by halftime, Levi’s Stadium had already passed the previous standard for most data transferred at any sporting event. Fans alone used more than 9.3TB of data during Super Bowl 50 while media covering the game used 453GB of data on their dedicated network.

Levi’s Stadium also set Super Bowl records by registering 27,316 unique Wi-Fi users and a peak of 20,300 concurrent users, topping the previous Super Bowl records from last year set at 25,936 and 17,322, respectively. With an official attendance of 71,088, Super Bowl 50 saw more than 38% of attendees utilize the Levi’s Stadium Wi-Fi system with a concurrent max of nearly 29% of all fans in the stadium using Wi-Fi at one time.

Overall, app adoption was a record at 46% of fans at the Super Bowl. Game Center usage, which included video replays and Super Bowl commercials, was a record 55% of all users. Food and beverage orders totaled 3,284, a 67% increase from the previous record. All mobile merchandise inventory was sold out before kickoff, with average order revenue of $212, compared to the previous best of $77 set at a concert event at Levi’s Stadium.

This is just one of the many compelling reasons why it makes sense to lose legacy systems and adapt to digital technologies that support your audience’s preferences , provide access to new customers and revenue opportunities, and enhance the competitive advantages of companies and the country. Adapt, transform, and thrive like AT&T and the San Francisco 49ers or don’t and add your company’s name to those from the 1990s that disappeared.

This article was written by Steve Olenski from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Comment this article

Great ! Thanks for your subscription !

You will soon receive the first Content Loop Newsletter