The value of upgrading your legacy systems

, posted in PayNode News

Not everybody likes change. Retail banks and insurance companies are just two types of business which resisted the digital revolution…at least until public demand became too powerful to ignore. When old IT leaves your customers feeling unhappy, you have a big problem. You must react. Online banking became inevitable when online shopping became so easy. If those unhappy customers start leaving your business for more up-to-date competitors, you no longer have a big problem. You have a huge problem.

Why, then, do some companies use so-called ‘legacy’ computer systems, involving old methods, technologies and applications?

Managing change, in any part of your business, can be difficult. Companies sometimes feel their existing platforms work fine for their current needs, so why change? And with ‘backward compatibility’ (which is the ability of new IT to handle legacy technology, such as old file formats) constantly updating your systems does not always feel like an urgent priority. Sometimes technology is in such constant use that even briefly turning off one (old) system before introducing a better (new) system could cause serious problems (for example, in air traffic control or for bank IT handling customer accounts). Furthermore, the cost of new technology, and the cost of retraining staff to use that technology, has to be covered somehow. Every company must ask: “Are we sure of a good financial return on this investment?” In the end, though, every company must also ask: “Can we really afford not to upgrade our legacy systems?”

Upgrading does not have to mean starting again. You could, for example, ‘re-face’ your legacy system, adding a new interface. This new interface would be more intuitive than your existing technology and would therefore be easier for new staff and young people to use. UK-based financial services business LV= (formerly Liverpool Victoria) was just one company to integrate mainframe systems with a browser-based front end, and you can read more about that project here: http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/Legacy-systems-continue-to-have-a-place-in-the-enterprise.

If you know your business platforms are failing you, now might be the time to make major changes. After all, do the people who created your legacy systems still work for your company? All those genius graduates you have just hired might be able to perform miracles with cutting-edge technology but can they fix systems developed decades ago? As the designers of legacy platforms retire, solving problems with their systems will prove increasingly difficult and expensive.

If you are not sure about the status of your legacy systems, a ‘wait and see’ policy is not recommended. US regional carrier Comair suffered dramatically when an outdated legacy crew scheduling system failed in 2004. The network crash led to the cancelling or delay of 3,900 flights, leaving nearly 200,000 passengers stranded, and reportedly cost Comair and parent company Delta Air Lines US$20m. You can read more about this incident here: http://www.cio.com/article/2438920/risk-management/comair-s-christmas-disaster--bound-to-fail.html. The lesson is clear: acting now to replace your legacy systems might be your company’s smartest move of the year.

New business platforms could allow your staff to work much more efficiently than your competitors. Your team will be able to spend more time talking to customers and generating business. The financial gains of efficient technology may soon outweigh the short-term cost of replacing your legacy systems.

Traditional retail banks and insurance companies will be forced to modernise as fintech businesses prove new technologies offer better solutions than old methods. If they don’t change, these financial giants will lose customers. Worse yet, the failure of their legacy systems could cause the next global financial crisis.

Of course, if you work on the finance side of business aviation, you don’t need to have any of these problems. And you don’t need to launch difficult or expensive projects to update your technology platforms. For industry-leading payment processing, you just need PayNode. Upgrading to our service couldn’t be easier. PayNode seamlessly integrates with the products of our sister companies in the Avinode Group. If you’re already using Avinode’s TripManager sales management system or the SchedAero flight operations system, you can easily create and send customer payment requests – using PayNode but within TripManager or SchedAero. The integration ensures funds flow through the payment chain and into your bank account more effortlessly than ever before.

Any company will suffer if using old methods for too long. Upgrading your payments technology might not be as difficult, or as costly, as you think.

By Magnus Henriksson, Global Business Director, PayNode.

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