The Ticking Time Bombs of Legacy IT Systems

24 October 2023 - 7 min read


The ticking time bombs of legacy IT systems are a big challenge for any leader today in the finance sector. But by recognising the perils of clinging to outdated technology, and by taking proactivesteps such as leveraging APIs, companies can defuse these time bombs and pave the way for afuture of innovation and growth in the finance sector.The first step is the hardest, butthrough theright partnerships, itneed not be that hard at all.

The Challenge

In the fast-paced world of finance, where data flows in abundance, businesses often find themselves at the mercy of legacy IT systems. These technological relics may be referred to as ‘ticking time bombs’, and for good reason. Outdated, inefficient, and even posing security risks, these legacy systems hinder innovation and throttle an organisation’s potential for progress.

Just this year, thousands of flights were grounded in the US, partly due to outdated systems that become progressively harder to update as time goes by. No industry should grind to a halt due to clinging to the past. Instead, we should explore avenues of how we can move forward, even for the most complex, interconnected of systems.

Why Legacy Systems Are Still Used

By legacy system, we refer to outdated computing software and/or hardware that is still in use. These systems would once have been considered the pinnacle of innovation at the time they were introduced, but sadly have become outdated as technology has evolved. What were once cutting edge, now become a significant threat to organisations, causing hospital IT systems to go down for multiple days and posing serious threats to national Government systems which deal with huge issues like managing the pandemic.  

While it is easy enough in theory to say, ‘just update to a new system’, many of these systems require near-constant availability, for example accessing customers’ data in banks, so it is incredibly hard for systems to be updated because they cannot be taken out of service. This makes the logistics of designing a new system incredibly difficult, let alone the cost. It is easy to understand how legacy systems stay in place. Patch fixes and bandages are used to hold the old piece together because it is deemed too costly or too complex to update to a new one.

A Risky Dance

Trying to manoeuvre in a technologically advanced world with legacy systems is like attempting an intricate dance routine while wearing lead boots. Possible? Yes. Efficient? Far from it – the inadequacy of these systems is frustrating and oftentimes maddening, impeding progress and hindering the development of new products and services.

In the finance sector, these archaic systems often prove to be a double-edged sword – while they may still function, albeit at a snail’s pace, they lack the capacity to keep up with the evolving technological landscape. It becomes a great opportunity cost because it is harder and harder to take advantage of new programs due to incompatibility, and it is likely that more time and resources will be spent managing multiple systems as time goes by. Companies become overly reliant on systems that were never intended to withstand the demands of the present day and miss out on growth opportunities.

Legacy systems also pose a significant security risk. Old IT systems lack the robust security features of their modern counterparts, leaving organisations vulnerable to cyber-attacks and data breaches. A company’s reputation, built over years of trust and reliability, can be shattered in an instant due to a single flaw in a legacy system’s armour.

Moving Forward

Breaking free from the clutches of legacy systems requires a clear vision and a strategic approach. One way to move forward is by embracing partnerships and collaborations. By pooling resources and expertise with technology-focused entities, finance organisations can harness the power of modern systems while minimising disruptions.

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) can serve as the bridge between legacy systems and innovative solutions by allowing for seamless integration of new technologies and thus a gradual shift from the outdated to the new. Through API adoption and end-to-end systems, organisations can modernise their operations without completely dismantling existing systems because they can update one piece at a time, while still maintaining the functionality and security of the system to customers.

Of course, one might say, ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’ and it’s a fair point. It’s an incredibly difficult mindset to shift because it is completely understandable why businesses put off any significant update until it becomes absolutely necessary, particularly when we are at such a tough financial point when costs are high.

It is a risky game, though, as one mishap can bring the whole Company down. Many leaders likely know that their legacy systems are a looming issue, and one that is far, far better to get ahead of. Plus, there are likely further benefits if they were to be updated – more efficient systems lead to cost savings, better data insights and more, so it is better to address the issue before it is too late It is not a matter of ‘if’ the legacy system fails, it is a matter of ‘when’.


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