Your business IT systems can’t cope with change – Why is this killing the success of your company?
Are your business IT systems able to cope with change and expansion? It’s a question that every key decision maker within a growing company should be asking your current needs, the may be well taken care of right now, but that’s not to say the existing setup of your IT systems will be able to cope when those needs change.
IT systems that have been designed to perform a set of processes are typically built to specification, which means technical constraints will arise when a new and different set of processes are introduced. In many respects, it’s a bit like squeezing an extra person into a three bedroom house when all three of those bedrooms are already taken. Unless extra space is added to accommodate everybody, internal problems are likely to ensue.
Breeding complexity and architectural limitations – Why on-premise systems will always struggle with change
Just as adding extra bits and pieces onto a house isn’t as simple as all that, the same can be said for expanding your legacy system; every aspect of the infrastructure needs to taken into careful consideration before changes can be made, or else the entire thing will collapse.
Businesses that are running on legacy on-premise systems can find that they are very difficult to upgrade, particularly if these systems have been heavily customised already. It doesn’t matter how many times you augment your system to meet the changing needs of your business, architectural limitations will always exist. This is because once success through one change is established, another progressive change is likely to follow, adding new systems to account for each adjustment as a result. And whilst this may seem prudent, it only breeds complexity; augmentation becomes an endless process and systems grow cumbersome – requiring intensive customisation and complex integrations – and eventually end up holding businesses back rather than enabling growth.
Furthermore, the ongoing cost and disruption of having to perpetually upgrade is often too much for many businesses and as a result these companies often wind up with software that is several generations behind.
Incapable of adapting in today’s omnichannel market
Perhaps no industry has struggled with the ongoing burden of legacy IT systems in quite the same way as the retail industry. Established retail businesses that added systems to serve multiple channels (such as eCommerce and in-store) are discovering that, as they expand into new geographical locations and disruptive competitors emerge, they face new demands for personalisation and “seamless” customer experiences. Today’s consumers expect a shopping experience that is consistent when dealing with a retailer across multiple channels, and is what’s known as an “omnichannel” experience.
The omnichannel experience remains consistent because all business areas – such as customer relationship management, inventory, marketing, shipping, etc. – are managed across all channels by a single solution.
When a legacy system has been heavily customised, however, it is made up of disparate systems and this kind of cross-channel management is just not possible. Newly added channels cannot be supported and extensive modification is required to integrate them.
How a Cloud based business systems solution can help businesses
Unlike on-premise systems, cloud-based solutions are completely flexible, which makes it a lot easier for businesses – across all industries – who want to implement changes to fulfil the needs of their staff, their customers, and the organisation as a whole. This is because the IT infrastructure is managed and maintained by the cloud ERP provider and is completely free from the architectural limitations inherent with physical hardware.
Newly added systems are given immediate support and unified as part of a single software solution, removing the need for extensive upgrades. Not only is this cheaper, it also prevents many of the disruptive aspects of a hardware/software upgrade as aforementioned.
Scalability is key – 3 ways cloud computing makes change in business simple
- Adjust for varying levels of activity
Companies engaged in commerce quite often experience varying levels of customer activity throughout the year, with periods of high volume sales and periods of low volume.
Where on-premise systems may require additional servers to cope with an increase in activity, cloud-based solutions are completely scalable in comparison. This means retailers can better prepare themselves for ebbs and flows in the marketplace, allowing them to maximise profit and minimise spend on costly maintenance of excess servers.
- Adjust for changes in task processing
At some point or another, the way in which day-to-day business tasks are processed will in veritably change. This could be for any number of reasons, most typically when new products and services are being rolled out, or, less typically, in the event of a merger and acquisition and both businesses have different ways of doing things. Regardless of the reasons why, it easier to implement changes without the effort and expense of a total overhaul of internal systems.
- Adjust for growth and expansion
When companies grow and expand, the number of system users will inevitably increase beyond initial system capabilities. Likewise, a growing organisation is likely to adopt more than one base of operations, moving further afield geographically, resulting in various process changes the original system may not be equipped to handle.
And if you are planning global expansion, then using legacy business software can cause real problems. There is a great article on Cloud Machine’s website here, which explains the pain it can cause, and how to avoid it through cloud-based solution