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Understanding Legacy Application Modernization (and Its Benefits)

James Ardis

In an increasingly online world with a hybrid workforce, companies need to ramp up their digital capabilities. 87% of tech leaders now say that legacy application modernization is crucial to meeting the moment, according to a recent Foundry survey. The pressure to modernize is high, as applications that were “good enough” just a few years ago now fall well short of customers’ and employees’ expectations.
Laptop opening to reveal set of legacy applications against a bright red background

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In an increasingly online world with a hybrid workforce, companies need to ramp up their digital capabilities. 87% of tech leaders now say that legacy application modernization is crucial to meeting the moment, according to a recent Foundry survey. The pressure to modernize is high, as applications that were “good enough” just a few years ago now fall well short of customers’ and employees’ expectations.

Beyond raising user satisfaction, there are many reasons why decision-makers are embracing modernization. The same Foundry survey found that improving efficiency (60%), staying ahead of competitors (24%), and meeting new compliance regulations (16%) were the top reasons.

So, what exactly is legacy application modernization? And how can it boost efficiency while also improving compliance and market share? Find the answers to this and more in our guide to legacy application modernization. Plus, discover the unique advantages of our value-driven Fast-Track Application Modernization service.

What Is Legacy Application Modernization?

Legacy application modernization is the process of making your legacy systems more secure, efficient, and robust, often by leveraging the cloud, machine learning, and other tools.

Many companies find themselves saddled with legacy systems that have massive amounts of technical debt. 70% of tech executives recently said that this debt directly prevents their ability to innovate. These systems are also often too slow for customers and employees or generally incapable of meeting users’ needs. That is why modernization is so crucial.

In recent years, modernization has become increasingly desirable. Even companies that once relied less on digital systems now realize they need advanced capabilities to connect with their customers and employees worldwide.

Team of young professionals gathered around laptop reviewing modernized legacy application

How to Modernize a Legacy Application 

There are many application modernization strategies, including cloud migration, automation, system integration, and much more. Each of these can rapidly improve the efficiency of the application, help you scale up operations, and lead to better customer and employee experiences.

However, some organizations will decide to discard their legacy systems in favor of a state-of-the-art system. This is a more time-consuming process that can easily lose sight of core business objectives and leave your tech teams locked into a rigid initiative for years.

Below, learn more about each opportunity to modernize legacy systems, and begin considering which one best fits your needs.   

1. Migrating Systems to the Cloud

Many organizations still struggle with on-prem software, which costs a fortune to maintain and makes it difficult to scale up operations. Luckily, cloud migration addresses these issues and more. By moving legacy applications to the cloud, companies reduce maintenance costs by an average of 31%, according to AWS. Plus, your organization only has to pay for software when an employee or customer uses it, and the software can handle increased activity if there are spikes in demand.

2. Automating Manual Processes

Legacy applications that depend on manual processes cause several issues for organizations. First and foremost, it leaves companies vulnerable to the possibility of human error. Even the most seasoned professional occasionally makes a mistake, leaving undetected errors throughout your employee and customer-facing systems. Secondly, it relegates employees to low-level, redundant work, decreasing job satisfaction and increasing turnover.

Instead, your company can begin automating these processes in your legacy systems. This allows you to enjoy better accuracy and faster turnaround times. It also helps employees throughout your company focus on higher-level job functions. Companies can also consider leveraging automated technologies such as chatbots during modernization to streamline the customer and employee experience.  

3. Integrating Legacy Systems

Sometimes, companies already have exceptional legacy systems. The only problem is that employees and customers have to jump around between them. Disconnected systems cause confusion as the user has to figure out where the function or data they need resides. 

In some cases, the user may even assume that such a system does not exist and decide to create their own, creating technology silos in your organization. Also, these systems often do not communicate with each other, meaning employees and customers must re-enter data across numerous platforms ad nauseam.

System integration solves these problems by either connecting applications together into one platform or creating ways for these systems to share data. This method reduces confusion, creates more efficient workflows, and decreases cybersecurity vulnerabilities. You can learn more about the benefits of system integration here.

Laptop on table displaying code written by programmer


4. Cleaning Code

Disorganized code can lead to countless bugs for the user and costly maintenance. It can also make it difficult to add new features to the system as customers’ or employees’ needs change. Discover the fundamentals of clean code.

5. Enhancing UI/UX

One of the most effective ways to boost brand reputation and customer satisfaction is modernizing UX. This streamlines how customers can access the products and services in your digital ecosystem. For employee-facing systems, improved UI/UX leads to fewer input errors, higher productivity, and boosted morale. Here are ten ways to improve user experience.

6. Tearing Down Legacy Applications and Building New Ones

Tearing down an application should be the last-case scenario for companies. This is by far the costliest and most time-consuming way to modernize digital infrastructure. It will be years before employees and customers see an improved experience. Plus, your stakeholders will enter each budget meeting unsure of how modernization is driving value to the company, leading to decreased buy-in. In almost every situation, it makes more sense for companies to work with the systems they already have as opposed to starting from scratch.

Of the processes listed above, numbers 1-5 can all be extremely beneficial to companies, depending on their current needs. So how do you find the one that is right for you?

At Programmers, we begin our Fast-Track Application Modernization service by sitting down with your leaders to discuss your goals and what roadblocks you’ve encountered along the way. This allows us to determine if clean code, automation, cloud migration, or anything in-between will bring your organization lasting value.

Why Legacy Application Modernization Is Important 

Legacy application modernization can directly boost your company’s efficiency, brand reputation, and capabilities. For example, if your company relies on manual processes, an application modernization initiative can automate those functions, making operations faster and removing the risk of human error. There are countless other examples of application modernization helping organizations’ bottom line.

In terms of customer satisfaction and brand reputation, modernization can add new features your customers want to see. It can also provide them with a more intuitive and engaging experience within your digital ecosystem. This is increasingly important to consumers. 65% of US customers said they would be very unlikely to recommend a brand if they had a subpar app or website experience.  

Legacy application modernization service provider shaking hands across table with new client

Finding the Right Legacy Application Modernization Service

High-quality modernization services will give you a clear timeline to value. Plus, they should be nimble enough to pivot as your organization’s needs change. Below, you’ll find four questions to ask while looking for the perfect application modernization solution:

1. How closely do you work with your clients?

To get the best results from modernization, tech consultants will need to work side-by-side with you to ensure their work brings you real business value. 

At Programmers, we dedicate the first stage of our process to getting to know your company and its goals. Then, throughout modernization, our teams work directly under your management, offering you 100% transparency and the ability to quickly change course as business needs evolve. 

2. How long will it take to see value from modernization?

Customers can’t wait forever for an enhanced experience. Plus, your internal stakeholders need to see marked improvements quickly to ensure they keep supporting your modernization initiative.

The tech consultant you partner with should know how their service will bring you value early and often. For example, our Fast-Track Application Modernization service can make the unique promise to boost your bottom line every 90 days, thanks to our iterative process.

3. Can you target the modernization processes that will most benefit my company? 

Some tech consultants are too quick to prescribe a particular solution based on their specialty, such as cloud migration or automation. Make sure that the consultant you work with plans to take time understanding your business and its legacy systems before prescribing solutions. 

Programmers dedicates two weeks to looking under the hood of your legacy systems. Keeping your organization’s goals in mind, we find the technical barriers preventing you from realizing those plans and structure our modernization sprints around removing those roadblocks.

4. Do you continuously modernize my systems? 

Application modernization is a long-term commitment to offering intuitive customer-facing systems and streamlined employee-facing tools. A high-quality tech consulting firm will plan with you for the months and years ahead, prioritizing your most pressing modernization needs and staying flexible enough to change course when your business or industry requires it. 

Programmers’ approach not only shows short-term value but also iteratively strengthens your systems’ foundations, allowing you to scale up efficiently over time. We can work with your organization for as long as it brings business value to you and have worked side-by-side with clients for many years.   

In Conclusion

Legacy application modernization helps you adapt your technology to emerging needs from employees, customers, and your industry. Companies should work with these legacy systems instead of discarding them for state-of-the-art platforms, so they can rapidly achieve real business value. There are several ways to nimbly modernize systems, such as cloud migration, system integration, cleaning up code, and more.

There are many modernization services on the market. However, not all of them can help you see results quickly. Be sure to ask each consultant if they can provide a clear timeline to value and how they target your most pressing modernization needs before signing on the dotted line.

Programmers is the only major modernization provider that can ensure you reach value every 90 days. We do this by understanding your business goals, uncovering the barriers to these goals in your legacy systems, and tracking clear business metrics from day one.  Learn more about what sets our Fast-Track Application Modernization service apart.

Let us know how we can help you.

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