Software Modernization: 6 Considerations – Part 1 of 2

Software Modernization: 6 Considerations – Part 1 of 2


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Should You Replace Your Aging Technology?

Part 1 of 2

Consideration #1:  Sometimes, Hardware and Technology Forces You to Change Your Software.

Nothing is more frustrating than having to change your software systems because of unexpected developments that have occurred in the underlying and supporting technology.  For example, think about the enormous amount of software applications that ran fine on Windows XP, but now need to be replaced, or undergo a complete remake, because Windows XP is not supported by Microsoft anymore and has now become a risk to the continuity of your business.

Do you have an outdated system, a customized software application, or a conglomerate of pieced-together, homegrown apps still limping along? If so, now is the time to look at making that much needed transition and moving to a more flexible environment, preferably one that remains on the cutting edge of technology advancements via continuous monthly updates and new software releases.

Consideration #2: Benefits of Using Browser-based Software

A browser-based application is any application that uses a website application as the “front end”, or interface.  A browser-based application can be run in the cloud (SaaS), OR it could be run on your own internal (intranet) server(s). Users access the application from any computer (or mobile device if the software can handle it) connected to the Internet using a modern standard browser, instead of using an application that must be installed on each individual local computer or device.  As an example, Microsoft Word is a common word-processing application.  Google Docs is also a word-processing application, but all the functions are performed using any web browser instead of using software that has been installed directly onto their computer.

Web applications are easier to upgrade and do not require to be completely re-installed if you replace your computer system.  They still need to be kept up-to-date in order to cater to any new internet web browser technologies and information security threats.  With browser-based applications, users access the system via a uniform environment—the web browser; however, the user interaction with the application needs to be thoroughly tested on different web browsers so the system will function properly using any of the popular modern browsers.

Unlike traditional applications, web systems are accessible anytime, anywhere, via a computer or handheld device that has an Internet connection, putting the end user in charge of where and when they access the application.  Someone on vacation can quickly log into the system from anywhere in the world to see what is happening back at the shop.

Using Internet technologies based on industry-wide standards, it’s possible to achieve a far greater level of interoperability between applications than with isolated desktop systems. For example, it is much easier to integrate two browser-based systems than it is to get two proprietary systems to talk to each other. Browser-based architecture makes it possible to rapidly integrate enterprise systems, improving workflow and other business processes. Installation and maintenance becomes less complicated. Once a new version or upgrade is installed on the host server, all users can access it immediately. There is no need to upgrade each device with the new version of the application.

Speaking of data security and confidentiality of business-sensitive information, browser-based applications are typically deployed on dedicated servers, which are monitored and maintained by experienced server administrators. This is far more effective than monitoring many client computers or handheld devices, as is the case with new desktop applications that requires each device to be ‘touched’ every time there is a software change or new upgrade release.

Consideration #3: Most Businesses Know They Need to Update Their System

Various surveys and studies that have been done, and found that the majority of organizations polled know they need to, or should, update their enterprise software systems.  However, they have no plans to do so in the near future, mainly because of cost. This reason is conveniently used a lot, but it just doesn’t add up to be a legitimate reason.  Many businesses have no problem spending millions of dollars on new equipment, but don’t want to spend a few thousand dollars on new software that will get them the information they desperately need to make better decisions in the management of the business, and to help their employees be more efficient with fewer errors.  They are swimming in data, but starving for the information they need, usually because the data is held in disjointed silos across the enterprise…and it isn’t consolidated for better business metrics and knowledge-based reporting.

The problem with not wanting to spend money on software is that it will eventually lead to higher costs, both now and down the road, because the current system(s) require work-arounds, duplication of effort, data redundancy, etc.  There is also the possibility of decreased revenue and business income because the competition is better prepared, and has more to offer their customers. Budgets are important, but they shouldn’t be the only consideration when evaluating the need to modernize your software systems. These considerations should play a large part in the decision-making process.

Nothing Stays the Same:  One thing about technology is that it is always changing.  Your business is always changing too, and your software needs to keep up with your business…not be a hindrance to it. It is essential for nearly all organizations to stay in competition, but aged software applications can be as dangerous as not having an application at all. Not only do older systems not have the functionality that newer systems do, they become a competitive disadvantage and are a detrimental hindrance to achieving the goals/objectives of the business.

Winning Is About Staying in the Fight: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This common phrase is used in reference to many things, even software applications. However, consider this: how detrimental can a ‘not-broke’ system be that is not efficient and causes additional time and effort from the workforce to do their day-to-day jobs?  Although modernizing your existing software application system might seem costly, if it is inefficient, you need to answer the question: How much is the existing system costing me?

It is costing you. Inefficiencies are expensive. That is the reason so many manufacturing organizations are working to become lean organizations. That is the reason that technology exists—to improve inefficiencies. Don’t be fooled. Just because the system was the most efficient thing on the market 10 to 15 years ago doesn’t guarantee that it’s the most efficient solution for your organization today. Take the time to study how much efficiency a new system could create before making the decision to modernize. If you still think modernization is too expensive, add the cost of that inefficiency to your operating budget and look again.

Agedness = Feebleness:  One last consideration when determining whether modernizing your software is the right option for the business, is the security of that system. You want your business data and confidential customer information to be secure and readily accessible at the same time. Just as the human body becomes feeble over time, so does the security of your application systems.

In an age when security is paramount to survival, your software applications could actually be putting your organization at risk. There have been multiple companies that have had their corporate servers hacked, sensitive data was breached, and in some cases they lost many months of valuable company data, not to mention the public humiliation, loss of customers’ trust, legal ramifications, and very expensive recovery efforts.  There’s a new data breach or malicious hack identified in the news almost weekly.

With that said, can you really afford to ignore that your older application systems and databases might be less secure than a new system?

Ron Beltz
Director of Sales – Strategic Accounts