For many enterprises, the legacy systems that help run day-to-day business operations, for the most part, aren’t going anywhere. For a plethora of reasons, one of which is increased business risk, it isn’t as easy to just rip-and-replace a legacy IT environment in favor of a newer, shinier technology platform.
But while organizations continue to spend time and money on existing systems, 47 percent report an increasing need to integrate with cloud applications to meet business demands like that of an ERP legacy system integration, according to The 2020 State of Ecosystem and Application Integration Report. And that means they have to simultaneously support both old and new systems. Newer cloud and SaaS technologies do offer a lot of promise, but if they are unable to integrate with your legacy environment, they are going to be yet another data silo that limits how you can view and act on the insights that data provides.
Deploying cloud and SaaS-based applications are only going to work if these applications are easily connected to things like MFT, EDI, and other B2B integration solutions.
So, the question becomes: How do you bridge the gap between your core legacy systems and still capture the benefits of modern cloud and SaaS apps without disruption? The answer is a modern, flexible ecosystem integration.
Legacy System Integration Challenges
Perhaps the biggest hurdle that outdated legacy equipment presents for an IT department is that it offers poor user experience. This can drastically reduce employee efficiency while increasing dissatisfaction among employees. The reason that legacy technologies are so cumbersome to use is because they were designed to do one specific job and to be managed by one type of technical user. These characteristics limit adoption and stickiness, and frankly put the equipment on a path toward obsolescence.
Think of all of the headaches and challenges that are part and parcel to an ERP legacy system integration. Legacy ERP systems were often created in the 1980s or 1990s and are frequently built on older technology, such as the IBM AS/400. The first iteration of that ERP system likely had a user interface that was character based, completely lacking in all of the visibility attributes that help non-technical users navigate the system. On top of an outdated UI, legacy systems often have bolt on reporting and analytics tools that are connected via a rats nest of custom integrations.
And that is just one example, here are some other common challenges associated with legacy technologies:
· Inflexible integration structure
· Limited data flow visibility between systems and applications
· Siloed “one-off” solutions that are cumbersome to manage
· Poor data security
· Overall latency in data movement
It is critical for enterprises to have a complete awareness of the important data flows driving business revenue, and that means understanding what their systems are able to do – and more importantly, what they are unable to do. While employees are comfortable with legacy technologies because they’ve grown accustomed to using them (and they probably still work), the inflexibility and constant attention these technologies require will not help enable business growth.
End-to-end visibility throughout the life cycle of B2B data is invaluable because it gives enterprises more control over the critical data exchanges flowing throughout their business ecosystems. The trading partners, customers, and third-party vendors comprise a business ecosystem and are the lifeblood of an enterprise, and outdated technologies often do not provide the capabilities – the visibility, the partner onboarding, the data transformation, etc. – to serve your ecosystem to the best of your abilities.
If you are unprepared for these challenges, you are not going to expand your customer base and grow your business. It’s time to pursue the agility and flexibility required to support your important B2B and application data interactions.
How to Integrate Legacy Systems?
Since these legacy technologies still do serve a purpose, and it just doesn’t make financial or logical sense to completely get rid of them, they are not completely going away. But the savviest companies recognize this as they undergo a digital transformation and look to efficiently balance both worlds.
Creating cost-effective legacy system integrations with modern applications without disruption is the end goal, and enterprises who do this are able to simultaneously maintain their legacy systems while freely adopting newer cloud services and SaaS solutions, including ERPs, CRMs, and other business-critical applications.
These organizations, then, face an unprecedented need for flexible integration, comprehensive governance, and business agility to support the critical B2B communications and trading partner processes that drive revenue but also integrate those data flows seamlessly into back-end systems. There are a few common approaches to achieving the integrations required:
► Build the Integration
Your ecosystem keeps changing, so the question becomes, just how often will you actually have to build a new integration? Companies that do this want to completely own the solution and tailor it to their own specific needs. But this is a massive undertaking, from the coding required to the amount of time it takes to maintain a proprietary integration in-house. The monumental lift to create an ERP legacy system integration is enough to give any organization pause.
► Use APIs
This approach requires developers, which means that ultimately you are on the hook for any potential changes that might be necessary. This doesn’t require a great deal of financial investment upfront, but building integrations does take time. API-centric integrations are also constantly being developed and maintained, which means you better have some developers who really know how to keep up with these evolving APIs.
And while those two approaches do have their benefits, they aren’t exactly simple and require a great deal of development expertise. That’s why many enterprises are opting for a third and more efficient approach:
► Use Integration Connectors
Pre-built application connectors come as part of an integration platform and take much less time than either of the first two approaches. This approach allows enterprises to configure an application using a connector in a couple of hours, and the connector maintenance is handled by the vendor. Thus, your application time to value is faster, and you are getting the integration agility, ability, and adaptability that the other approaches simply cannot deliver.
Integrate Your Ecosystem Today
It’s OK to continue to rely on a legacy IT infrastructure, as long as it can integrate the newer systems and applications that your business demands.
Cleo Integration Cloud is a single integration platform that is designed to reliably connect your legacy environment with modern SaaS applications, without the fear of business disruption. Its flexible deployment options also are tailored to the needs of your business and can free your IT teams from the minutiae of managing integrations and enable them to focus on business growth.
Whether it’s a modernization project to onboard your business ecosystem faster, or ensuring you remain compliant with customer SLAs and industry mandates, Cleo Integration Cloud is the platform that drives business today.