Legacy Modernization Trends: A Strategic Playbook for Updating Any Legacy System


In 2018, a 1956 Ferrari 290 MM (like the one above!) was sold for a whopping $22,000,000 in Los Angeles, California. Who spends $22M on an old car, right? But wait, there’s more. A 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe was sold for over 40,000,000 in May 2022.

The buyers of these cars make their purchases with the full understanding that maintaining these  vehicles when all the parts may no longer exist will be challenging. But they buy them anyway since these are true classics and their inherent value makes them worth owning.

The point here is that old isn’t always useless. They could still be worth a fortune with the right care, even with a few faults and deficiencies. And just like classic cars, old and weak software—also known as legacy software—has many quirks and flaws. However, with the right fix (what the folks in the biz call “legacy modernization”), these old systems can still be valuable, too.

Today, more companies are adopting various legacy modernization trends because building new applications from scratch can be very expensive. In most cases, updating old software can reduce expenses and boost efficiency.

So if you’re looking to get your legacy applications more productive, this is where you should be.

Want to enhance your software or need help modernizing legacy systems? We’d love to help.

Let’s take a tour of the latest legacy modernization trends to see what to watch for when it comes to software system upgrades that work.

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What is “legacy modernization”?

Legacy application modernization (say that ten times fast at a cocktail party!) is the process of updating or enhancing an enterprise’s digital infrastructure (software, applications, etc) with the aid of more recent technologies to optimize performance and ensure quality output.

When you watch car restoration shows like Wheeler Dealers, Overhaulin, or the old Pimp My Ride, you see rundown jalopy cars get so swaggy that you almost think it’s the recent model. This is what a legacy modernization procedure does to old legacy software.

In today’s world, companies adopt various legacy application modernization approaches to ensure that their old programs remain viable, and operate at optimal levels. Some of these modernization trends include; Hyper Automation, cloud migration, CI/CD implementation, Augmented analytics, and A/B testing.

The concept of legacy modernization exists because most companies around the globe have their fair share of legacy applications–it’s hard to avoid if your company makes it past the five-year mark (let alone the 10 or 30 one!).

But what exactly is a legacy application and why does your legacy system likely need modernization?

But what exactly is a legacy application and why does your legacy system likely need modernization?

Legacy programs are old and outdated applications that are still in use because they are critical to certain business operations. However the continuous use of these systems affects operational efficiency, and in worse cases can lead to massive losses for the business.

According to a recent survey by the consortium for software quality, legacy systems cost US companies more than $500 billion in 2018, and the cost will only continue to rise as software continues to eat the world (as venture capitalist Marc Andreesen so famously said).

A recent study asserts that legacy systems inhibit the efficiency of at least 90% of organizations. So you’re not alone—and it’s not always your fault that your software gets quickly outdated. Technology is evolving at a mind-blowing pace, about 2x every 18 months. This means that you can have a legacy system just 18 months after freshly deploying the program.  (18 months!!  Time to grab the bourbon…)

The problem is that the effects of maintaining an old rickety program can be disastrous and nobody (customers, shareholders, your mom) cares if you only recently deployed the system.

Here are specific reasons why legacy software modernization is usually non-negotiable for a company:

  • Helps you stay competitive: The software development world is highly competitive; if you fail to keep up with the innovation and service delivery of your rivals, you'll eventually be forced to close up shop. The truth is it's practically impossible to stay up with customer experience expectations and introduce novel solutions to the market before your rivals if your digital infrastructures aren't upgraded. So it is imperative to have a legacy software modernization procedure.
  • Enhances scalability: One of the core attributes of an efficient application is the ability to integrate with other systems and perform optimally even with increasing demands. If your application cannot efficiently handle increasing and continuous business demands (for example, adding thousands of users at a time), then it's due for a fix.
  • Accelerates speed and productivity: Without modernization, your productivity will suffer since operations will become progressively slow. All of this negatively impacts your delivery and output. Modernizing legacy software is a necessary step if you want to ensure a high level of productivity and speed.
  • Reduces costsDo you think old is cheaper? Wrong! Legacy systems cost US companies billions in dollars. The cost could be from damages, low and slow output, or a cyber attack. When you upgrade your systems, you reduce expenses and increase profits.
  • Lowers security risksOftentimes, legacy programs no longer receive security updates from their creators, leaving the current security protocol either antiquated or extremely vulnerable. Using an application in this way exposes your company to significant dangers and makes you susceptible to hacking. A modernized system is not just for efficiency but also for security.

Legacy Modernization Trends: Key Tools and Approaches To Use

Concerned about finding the right people to help you modernize your software systems and architecture? We get you skilled professionals that are perfect for your organization.

As you seek to update or upgrade your legacy software, here are some of the top legacy system modernization tools at your disposal:

#1. Hyper-automation

The term hyper-automation doesn’t describe a set of tools and it is not a process. It essentially refers to combining advanced technologies to strategically automate as much of the legacy system as possible. One of the main ingredients in hyper-automation is RPA (Robotic Process Automation). At its most basic, RPA software performs automated repetitive tasks the way humans do.

Hyper-automation is a framework for scaling automation, building on the successes and limitations of RPA. The ultimate hyper-automation goal is to automate enterprise automation with the combination of advanced technologies.

#2. A/B Testing and Feedback Analysis

A/B testing is the statistical way of comparing two or more versions to determine which version performs better and feedback analysis enables you to understand if the difference between two versions is statistically significant.

A common dilemma that companies face is that they think they understand their customers but in reality, customers will behave much differently than they would think consciously or subconsciously. 

Users do not often even know how they make the choices they make, they just make them. When running an experiment or A/B testing, you might find out otherwise and feedback analysis can often be very humbling. So overall, it is better to conduct A/B testing and Feedback Analysis rather than relying on intuition.

For A/B testing to work, you must call out your criteria for success. Also, be sure to split your traffic into two so you can run A/B testing on both groups to get statistically significant results.

#3. CI/CD Approach and Automation Testing

The CI/CD approach in automation testing is one very important trend in developing legacy systems. CI/CD stands for Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment and refers to the software development life cycle. In the CI/CD approach for automation testing, the steps are usually written out within an infinite loop since it is a cycle that repeats forever. 

The steps in the cycle include writing the code, building or compiling the code, release/testing for bugs, deployment, operation by end users, monitoring and feedback, and then planning improvements around the feedback. CI/CD is paramount in automation testing because it automates things that otherwise would have been done manually, thus there is a shorter cycle time.

In other words, CI/CD fights problems before they slip into the main code base.  In this way, it also helps to prevent technical debt.

#4. Mobile-First Approach

use mobile first approach

One of the most popular approaches in legacy system upgrading is the mobile-first strategy. The mobile-first approach ensures that everything works on mobile view first before considering a larger screen. In today’s world, this approach is a best practice carried out by almost every major tech company. 

But first, you need to consider how to integrate it into your system in the best manner possible. For example, should you make a web version that is accessible from any device or a distinct mobile application? It all depends on your specific situation.

#5. AI Chatbots

In recent years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbots have emerged as a leading trend in legacy modernization. In contrast to rule-based bots, AI bots do not need a large database, and therefore most companies readily implement them. The distinction is that rule-based bots are unable to locate the solution if it is not present in their database. 

However, because the AI bot is self-learning, you only need to give it clear, beginning data—regardless of how little of it there is. Given that a well-designed bot can eventually replace dozens or even hundreds of customer care professionals, it is a top option for companies that provide customer assistance.

#6. Cloud Migration

Cloud migration is one of the most difficult but essential techniques for modernizing outdated apps. Cloud storage facilitates data transport and processing, speeds up information exchange, and strengthens third-party software integration. Additionally, SaaS-based mobile app development and DevOps implementation are made simpler by cloud-based tools. 

However, if your legacy program contains obsolete databases and libraries or is overly complex, the transfer may prove to be a significant difficulty. It is best to get assistance from a qualified team in this situation. They will choose the best migration strategies and procedures to preserve all of your data and effectively organize it on a new platform.

#7. DevOps Philosophy Adaptation

DevOps is a concept and a technique that emphasizes agility, collaboration, and automation. DevOps Adaptation can address many of the common problems that plague some organizations, however, it is not a panacea. Faster time to market, higher ROI, greater user/customer satisfaction, increased productivity, improved collaboration, early detection, and repair of faults are just a few of its advantages.

#8. Augmented Analytics

To improve how people explore and understand data in analytics and BI systems, enhanced analytics makes use of enabling technologies like machine learning and AI to help with data preparation, insight production, and data explanation. Because these technologies enable business users and executives to swiftly extract value from their data without requiring in-depth technical knowledge or data expertise, augmented analytics is incredibly valuable to them.

Business users and executives may access pertinent data, formulate the best queries, and swiftly obtain insights into the context of their company with the aid of augmented analytics.

Where Should You Start with Legacy System Modernization?

Where Should You Start with Legacy System Modernization?

Ready to implement a system modernization process for your legacy applications but don’t know how to begin? We do! Read on:

  • Rate Your Legacy System: Not all legacy software fits under the categories of "ancient" or "outdated." Assessing other factors is necessary when determining the legacy. Because of this, you must evaluate all present systems to identify any problems that might arise in the short to medium term. This evaluation must be methodical and thorough: examine every area of your technology, from the code and architecture to the visual style and feel, keeping in mind your long-term business goals for the expansion of your product.
  • Set Goals: Simply switching programming environments won't solve all of the problems. You need to connect modernization initiatives with your tech and commercial objectives. Once you understand how legacy system modernization (or lack thereof) could affect the company's revenue, market share, customer experience, and more, you can make smart decisions about which systems need to be modernized and when.
  • Choose the Best Approach for Your Modernization Efforts: Now it’s time to adopt a modernization plan using all the data you've gathered. Select the modernization strategy that will best serve your goals and enable you to produce results quickly. Naturally, a software development business will evaluate your system and recommend the best course of action if you're working with them. However, it is always advisable to familiarize yourself with all of your possibilities. There are around six methods for updating old systems, although only three of them actually involve modernization. Re-host, re-platform, and refactor are these three strategies. Consider using existing items in place of the modernization strategies. If there is an affordable SaaS option out there, there is no need to reinvent the wheel.
  • Apply Software Updates and Staff Training: Your employees might need some time and assistance to become proficient with the new software after using the outdated systems for so long. Prepare to spend money on staff training to improve performance and productivity. Plan to have your system and software updated frequently as well. If you don't keep your product modern, you'll soon run into another modernization issue.

Why do you need Legacy Modernization for your Software?

  • Incompatible and costly operating system: Legacy systems and out-of-date technology will be expensive for your business if it must adhere to precise regulatory compliances. The technology your business processes employ must be compatible with compliance standards like HIPAA, GLBA, PCI, and others. Your application can suffer data breaches due to security flaws in your outdated system. Additionally, laws and regulations about data storage and protection are always changing and evolving. As a result, you must modify your system to comply with these legal requirements.
  • Security risks: Legacy systems are susceptible to malicious software, cyberattacks, and other threats. Sophisticated hackers have had ample time to understand the system code and identify its weaknesses if you had been relying on a software solution for many years. Even if your solution is specifically tailored to your needs and you have the means to support it, adding new patches necessitates extra investment in security. Although there will always be a problem with security, many flaws may be fixed by updating out-of-date software and security policies for corporate systems.
  • No Longer Supported by VendorsLegacy systems require specialized knowledge and skills, which are hard to find. The specialists' skill sets that handle it also deteriorate along with the technology. You might eventually run out of qualified personnel for these systems. The reason is that many of the young and upcoming developers are concentrating on learning new technology, not the popular systems of yesteryear. In addition, a lot of complicated, ancient apps lack adequate documentation. Organizations that rely on seasoned tech workers are facing a skills crisis as these developers prepare for retirement. Finding employees and vendors qualified to manage legacy systems will therefore become more challenging and expensive for businesses in the future.
  • Difficulty in Updating and Integration: To access features like geolocation, data sharing, user authentication, etc., modern software systems heavily rely on numerous third-party APIs. Third-party APIs guarantee that you employ the low-cost, tried-and-true option, and by default are prepared for integration. However, outdated and older legacy technologies are often incompatible with integrations from third parties. If you continue to try to integrate your old software with a third-party service, you will need to create bespoke APIs, which will take a lot of time and custom code (aka lots of money!). Even after that, the final integration might not perform as well as you had hoped. You risk losing sales and clients if you continue to rely on outdated systems.

How can TurnKey help you leverage and adopt these legacy modernization trends?

How can TurnKey help you leverage and adopt these legacy modernization trends

So you’re probably wondering what is the optimal way to keep your old applications constantly updated. Let’s cut to the chase: offshore developers are your best bet to get the job done.

Why offshore developers?

First, many legacy modernization procedures create some amount of disruption; having engineers who work from a remote location to modernize your legacy applications helps keep them focused and not influenced by non-technical internal stakeholders who may not be equipped to fully understand the context of the upgrade.

Second, offshoring is usually more cost-effective and faster than trying to hire locally.  Plus it gives you access to a much wider pool of talent that may have the requisite skills and knowledge needed for the legacy system in question.

And when it comes to offshoring, Turnkey is your best partner.

The typical offshoring firm is a lot like legacy software: they are outdated and inefficient. We’ve modernized and optimized the concept of offshoring to fit the demands of today’s clients. We call this modernized version Yourshoring.

Yourshoring is better because it means your team of legacy system developers will fit within your roadmap and work within your culture and play by your rules.  In other words, this is your fully dedicated team that you fully control.

Ready to modernize your legacy systems without the pain and hassle of traditional offshore vendors? We’d love to chat. 

Final Thoughts

Just a quick reminder, legacy modernization is the process of making legacy systems more contemporary and able to communicate with other modern systems. Adapting legacy modernization trends is non-negotiable if you’re going to remain competitive in the market.  But importantly, you have to implement an efficient approach, which can be difficult to do.  Call TurnKey and let us do the hard work for you.


Why do companies need Legacy Modernization?

Legacy applications hinder business growth and can lead to cyber-attacks. Companies need legacy modernization to enhance operational efficiency, satisfy ever-changing customer needs, reduce security risk and bolster profits. Moreover, first impressions matter: you don't want to create a customer experience that is defined by slow performance.

What is the best legacy modernization trend to adopt?

There are various legacy modernization strategies and each one is very useful for specific legacy app problems. The best practice is to decide on which approach to implement based on the particular problem(s) you are seeking to resolve.

Why is modernizing a legacy system important for the future?

Technology is developing at an astounding rate—some experts say software is outdated in about 18 months. This means that 18 months after the program is first deployed, you can already have a legacy system! To remain competitive and consistently offer quality products with a great customer experience, you must modernize your legacy systems.

What is an example of a legacy modernization trend?

One of the most crucial methods for updating obsolete programs is cloud transfer. Cloud storage improves third-party software integration by facilitating data management and processing, speeding up information exchange, and transporting data. Cloud-based tools also facilitate the introduction of DevOps and SaaS-based mobile app development.

September 1, 2022

TurnKey Staffing provides information for general guidance only and does not offer legal, tax, or accounting advice. We encourage you to consult with professional advisors before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business or legal rights.

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