How to avoid legacy IT costing your business more than money
How to avoid legacy IT costing your business more than money
Holding back on digital transformation might cost your business more than just revenue. It could damage your ability to hire and retain top talent, leave you vulnerable to data breaches and harm your brand's reputation.

Far from being a world leader, the UK currently ranks 14th out of 140 major world countries for business-level tech adoption. With the “fourth industrial revolution” well underway, businesses should be aiming to thrive in the new world order, not merely survive. 

So how can businesses  break free from legacy IT to be more agile, competitive and innovative in today's digital-first economy?

How to spend

Based on the latest statistics from PwC, chances are your business is channelling more and more funds into tech each year, but doing so blindly can waste a lot of money.

Building out your digital strategy is a platform to bigger and better things, but buying tech is not a guarantee of digital nirvana! As a senior team, review your main business goals to develop an outcome-driven IT investment strategy, filling in existing gaps and setting up for long-term growth. Ask yourself key questions like: “Where would we like to be in the next five, 10 or even 15 years?”, “How are our competitors innovating?” and “What will our customers expect from us?”

Underpin strategic investments in your network, hardware and software, by spending wisely on asset management and tooling, which will help free up time and resources and make operational decisions quicker and more accurate.

How to integrate

Updating and improving legacy data and systems is a concern for half of CIOs. Restrictive budgets, internal politics and the threat of disruption can make it difficult to upgrade.

However, making use of cloud services can change the cost profile of your IT spend and enable you to spend more time on strategic activities instead of running infrastructure. Correctly configured, cloud can leave you better-protected and provide the flexibility to adapt to changing business goals. 

There's no need to update valid technologies unless the cost of maintaining them outweighs the upgrade cost. Do take into account some legacy systems can increase your vulnerability to cyber-attack if they were not designed for the current threat landscape.

During the transition phase, it's likely you'll need to mix legacy IT to keep your business going while you develop the new. A hybrid-cloud model (making use of on-premise “private cloud” and public cloud services) can give you the opportunity to build a new digital environment and prototype in a safe arena, separate from day-to-day operations, and with more flexible cost and operational models.

How to evolve

In case you've missed the headlines, the digital skills gap is costing the UK economy an estimated £63 billion per year and businesses have a vested interest in helping to improve this. After all, employee buy-in can make or break digital transformation.

Identify the tech-savvy, ‘digital champions' to lead transformation on the ground and break down complex changes into more manageable chunks. Support this with top-down messaging from the C-suite, explaining how day-to-day roles will be impacted in the pursuit of business goals. Invite in professional trainers to run group or one-on-one sessions on new systems, data analysis and cyber-security to promote continuous learning.

How to protect 

Cyber-crime is one of the greatest challenges of modern business, with 46 percent of UK companies experiencing one or more breaches in the past 12 months. Far from being an after-thought, cyber-security needs to be hard-wired into all parts of your infrastructure.

Focus on getting the basics right first. Often, hackers target vulnerabilities which are simple to avoid through remote management of devices, encryption, multi-factor authentication, anti-virus and software patch updates and network segmentation.

Without developing a complex about it, bear in mind a significant percentage of security breaches are caused by “insiders”. For example, 25 percent of cyber-attacks on the healthcare sector in 2016 were carried out by “malicious” employees. Consider adopting a system of “least privilege” when it comes to network permissions to prevent employees being able to access sensitive data they don't need. 

As more devices are added to your network and more employees work remotely, SIEM tools can help give you estate-wide visibility of both expected and strange occurrences and help your IT team respond quickly to real threats.

Contributed by Sam Routledge, Chief Technology Officer, Softcat 

*Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of SC Media UK or Haymarket Media.

By Sam Routledge, Chief Technology Officer, Softcat

By Sam Routledge, Chief Technology Officer, Softcat