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What Are Legacy Systems and Why Are They Still Used?

Ira Brooker    January 3rd, 2024

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Keeping pace with the latest technology is trickier than ever, which is part of the reason that even many large and established companies still rely on legacy systems — old or obsolete technology that is still in regular use. Outdated systems are a particular problem in the customer communications sphere, where customer expectations have changed significantly in recent years. Today’s customers expect assurances of data privacy, personalized communications, and a seamless experience across multiple channels.

Meeting those expectations is more than many legacy systems can handle. Keeping up with a rapidly changing world of communications requires an automated customer communication management (CCM) system that can scale and grow along with your business needs. CCM automation is the single best way to futureproof your customer communication processes.

What Are Legacy Systems?

In the business world, a legacy system is an old or out-of-date technology, computer system, or software application that is still in use. These systems still perform as they were originally intended, which can mislead a business into thinking they are still sufficient for its needs. Some businesses rely on a network of several legacy systems that they have acquired over time.

The trouble with relying on a legacy system (or systems) is that they usually have limited room for growth and expansion, and may also lack support for maintenance and repairs. That makes it difficult for an organization to keep up with changing trends and new technologies, putting them at a competitive disadvantage compared to businesses using more scalable systems. Organizations that employ multiple legacy systems often experience problems with keeping those systems integrated and functioning together as they age.

Why Do Organizations Use Legacy Systems?

There are a number of reasons a business might choose to continue using a system despite it being outdated, ranging from expenditures to convenience to sunk-costs. Some of the most common cases made for sticking with a legacy system include:

You know the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” Too many organizations take that to heart when it comes to their outdated systems. As long as a system continues to perform the way it was originally intended, these businesses will stand by it in spite of the fact that their competitors are making upgrades that will give them an advantage.

“It’s less expensive.”

If a legacy system is already bought and paid for, why put down the money for a whole new one? The problem here is that the expenses of relying on obsolete and outdated technology will eventually outweigh the cost of investing in something more up-to-date with modern business practices.

Businesses that have built their own solutions or invested heavily in a once-cutting-edge system have a tendency to fall victim to the fallacy of sunk costs. They resist making upgrades that would be to their advantage because they don’t want to see their past investments “go to waste.”

An organization that is locked into a long-term contract with a technology provider will often be understandably reluctant to look in different directions before the contract has ended.

For a business with a small or inexperienced IT staff, the idea of taking on a system overhaul can be nerve-wracking. There are worries about staff having the knowledge, time, and skills to not only install and integrate a new system, but also to provide maintenance and repairs moving forward.

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The Pitfalls of Using Legacy Systems in Customer Communications

By definition, legacy systems are obsolete and behind the curve. That can be a bigger problem in some areas of your business than in others. When it comes to customer communications, relying on outdated systems can mean important messages don’t have the impact they should, if they even reach their intended audience at all. Some of the biggest communications challenges facing legacy users include:

Limited Functionality

  • Today’s customers expect a certain level of personalized communication and tailored content that is simply beyond the capacity of many older software systems.
  • A system built to handle workflows that are too simplistic or incomplete may not be equipped to handle modern communications needs.
  • Many legacy systems can’t provide omnichannel delivery, a must-have for modern customers who frequently move between channels.
  • Outdated systems lack visibility into customer journeys, limiting the usefulness of the customer data they generate.

Inefficiency and Complexity

  • Systems that rely on outdated technology or multiple human touch points carry an increased risk of process errors that can lead to compliance violations.
  • Legacy systems often consist of multiple solutions purchased at different times, which leads to complicated interactions and reporting limitations.

Lack of Integration

Legacy solutions that were designed to perform a specific function are often not designed with an eye toward interactions with other solutions. Limited integration between systems results in avoidable errors and delays in communications.

Limited Scalability

Scalability is a huge issue for legacy users. Older systems are often incapable of keeping up with the changing demands of modern technology, slowing down important communications and leaving organizations unable to quickly adapt to changes in demand.

Limited Security

The cybersecurity landscape changes constantly, and an outdated system is far more likely to contain exploitable flaws that cybercriminals can access. That jeopardizes customer privacy as well as company data security.

How CCM Software
Eliminates Legacy Systems
Issues

Fortunately, most of those pitfalls can be eliminated by an automated customer communications management system like EngageCX from MHC. EngageCX is designed to grow and adapt along with your business’s operations, putting you in a better position to manage the complex needs of your diverse customer base. Here’s how EngageCX helps your team counter the challenges of legacy software.

SOLUTION

Enhanced Functionality

EngageCX enables a broad range of functions that simplify customer communications management no matter what channels your customers prefer. Create personalized messages that drive customer engagement and make use of omnichannel distribution to communicate via emails, SMS messages, social media platform, live chats, chat bots, and more.

SOLUTION

Streamlined Communications

Time-consuming and repetitive tasks such as scheduling communications, routing messages, and managing day-to-day tasks can be handled partially or entirely with automation, freeing your team to work on more engaging and value-added projects.

SOLUTION

Centralized Control

Legacy systems are often cobbled together over time using different software and applications, each with its own set of controls. EngageCX brings all of your communications functions and customer data management under one umbrella. That not only simplifies communications management, but also allows deeper insights into customer needs, preferences, and behavior.

SOLUTION

Greater Scalability

EngageCX was designed specifically to scale along with your business as your customer base expands and your communication needs change. Customizable workflows, personalized communications, and flexible configurations combine to keep your solution moving at the same pace as your business.

SOLUTION

Improved Security

EngageCX centralizes control over your communications, making your customer’s information much safer from cyberattacks and data breaches. Running regular data audits, encrypting sensitive messages, and putting stronger controls on access all go a long way toward protecting data privacy.

Migrating from Legacy Systems to Automated CCM

Now that we’ve made the case for upgrading from an outdated legacy system to a flexible, automated customer communication management solution, how does an organization go about implementing those changes? Each business will have its own specific requirements and considerations, but the steps to a smooth transition will generally look something like this.

1. Lay out your goals

  • What are your major objectives for this migration? For example, are you trying to improve compliance, build in more personalization, or expand your channels for communication?
  • Take stock of your existing communication processes to assess what they are doing well and what specific areas need to be improved.

2. Do some comparison shopping

  • Research the CCM solutions available to you, with a particular eye toward the goals you laid out in the previous step.
  • Compile a list of potential options that fulfill your specific needs and match your communications budget.

3. Make a migration plan

  • Detail all of the steps of your migration including specific timelines, responsibilities, and allocation of resources.
  • Lay out plans for migrating and validating customer data, training employees, and testing your new system.

4. Test your new system

  • Run your new CCM system under a controlled situation and migrate all necessary users and data in stages.
  • Test all aspects of your new CCM. Is the system stable? Is the data accurate? Are your communications compliant with regulations and internal requirements?
  • Fix or address any issues identified in testing and plan for your full deployment.

5. Train your team

  • Familiarize your employees with your new CCM system with hands-on training sessions in all relevant features and interfaces.
  • Develop ongoing learning plans and skills tests to make sure your team stays proficient as the system evolves.

6. Evaluate performance

  • Set key metrics (delivery time, customer satisfaction rates, etc.) that will indicate how well the system is performing for your specific requirements.
  • Identify areas that need improvement and make adjustments to your workflows.
  • Develop periodic evaluations to test whether business objectives are still being met over time.

7. Enhance your new system

  • Run updates and install patches regularly to keep your new CCM system up-to-date with security, compliance and compatibility with changing platforms and technology.
  • Collect feedback from customers, users, and stakeholders to identify areas for improvement and updates.

It’s Time to Replace Your Customer Communications Legacy System with CCM Software

Moving past obsolete communications systems is a necessity for any organization aiming to stay competitive in the modern business landscape. If you’re ready to learn more about how EngageCX from MHC can transform your customer communications efforts, contact us today to schedule a free demonstration. Our expert staff will give you a personalized walkthrough of our system, with a focus on your business’s specific needs and pain points.

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Ira Brooker

Ira Brooker is a freelance writer and editor based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He has been writing blogs and copy about software-as-a-service solutions for most of the past decade. Before exploring accounts payable and workflow solutions with MHC, he wrote about fields including cybersecurity, workforce management, online accessibility, audiology, retail sales, and much more. When he’s not doing business writing, he also indulges in writing fiction, journalism, arts criticism, and bar trivia.

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