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Digital Transformation

Overcoming Legacy System Challenges in Digital Transformation

10.10.2023

One of the conditions for Digital Transformation is that we need to look at the process holistically and end to end. If any process in the chain is manual or not real-time, it would be difficult to achieve a transformation. The other thing is that when we are attempting to transform, speed is very much of the essence. We need to be able to try out different things and fail early to arrive at the right path suited to the given conditions. In general, the capacity to transform is inversely proportional to the number of legacy systems. That is because it would be rare to have a real-time integration among all, and it would be difficult to change a process within a few days spanning many systems.

It is utopian to ask for a single system across the whole company. It is not uncommon to find upwards of say 20 systems all things considered, if not more running in an organization. So if it is not possible to have a single system, the next best thing would be to have some unifying platform that would make all of them act like one in real-time. This includes systems, Sensors, and people.

Legacy systems are very difficult to replace due to many reasons. One, they would have been customized to that particular organization and environment. This means that the system also has inbuilt the collective wisdom of the employees over the ages. This cannot be lost in a new system. Second, even though inefficient, the people, and sometimes even the customers and vendors are used to the system's requirements and response times. Making them relearn would be a huge effort. Thirdly, any new system that is going to be brought in, would not be having all these customizations which have been done and will most probably have to be redone in the new system. It would be rare for end users to let go of some nice tips and tricks which are there in the older system. Fourthly, given the large customizations, the new system implementation would take a lot of time, effort, and costs, making it difficult to justify the change. As time goes on this problem only becomes more severe. 

However, at some point change becomes inevitable. Due to changing customer needs, the front ends may change, and due to statutory requirements some reporting systems may be added, making the problem even worse. Finally, there comes a time when competition offers a product or a service which is an end-to-end revamped business model, and then change becomes inevitable, and an urgent requirement. 

This is where a platform that integrates everything into a process is required. Ideally, it should be possible to create a process from scratch and run it within a few days. In most projects attempting this, almost half of the time is spent by the end user figuring out the process and putting it in a document that the programmer can act upon. Then he also needs to envision the future changes he requires, without fully understanding what is possible. These come out as the “As is” and “To be” documents and can take a few months to arrive at this stage. Then the programmers go into a huddle, code, and hand over the system for end-user testing. This may or may not be as per the specs of the end user, or the specs themselves might have changed due to the business need. 

A low code no code platform can integrate disparate systems into one and include people and sensors into the process based on workflows. Since the system is designed and developed by the end users or power users, the time to go live is within a week or so. With a holistic approach to the process and a real-time response, it is possible to look at a business model change, paving the way for a Digital Transformation of your business.