Legacy Systems and How to Move Away

Just about every company has them: legacy systems. They may be part of the architecture — the very infrastructure, at the heart of your company’s IT road map, too.

But what if these platforms are actually hurting your company’s performance?

What is a legacy system?

Legacy systems are old, usually outdated technology — either the hardware itself or the software. The reason they’re outdated is they may not integrate with other platforms, which could save your company time and money. They may not be able to sustain microservices. And they may not even meet your core needs, enabling reporting or handling the growing needs of your company.

In other words, legacy systems may be keeping your organization from reaching its full potential. Here are a couple ways you can separate yourself without spending a fortune.

A “rip-and-replace” approach might not be best for you

IT guys talking about legacy systemsWhile you might want to completely discard and replace your current legacy platform all at once, this might not be best course of action for your company. ComputerWorld wrote that this “rip-and-replace” approach is costly and can have negative impacts on your business’s productivity levels.

You also might encounter significant change resistance throughout your organization, making a successful implementation nearly impossible. Instead, considering slowly integrating a new system over time, with plenty of training and support opportunities available to guide employees through the process. Learn about managing change. The more you can manage the change, the better the implementation will be. Users will have time to adopt new protocols and processes, which means it’ll ultimately be more successful.

Maybe you need to find a healthy middle ground?

Instead of completely replacing your legacy system (even over time), maybe you should find a middle ground. In the case of cloud-based software solutions, some companies implement a hybrid option, that allows for both on-premise and cloud-based functionality. This option is especially beneficial for IT professionals who need added functionality ans security, but don’t want to disrupt the entire system.

Do you have a legacy horror story?

Everyone does. We’d like to hear and read yours.

Lower Your Risk for Security Issues

While you may believe that your company’s chances of encountering a catastrophic natural disaster are slim, do you have the same outlook toward threats to your IT system? Do you believe that your cybersecurity measures are adequate enough to withstand a full-scale breach? Think again.

Protect your company with securityThese days, it would seem that no company is completely safe from data breaches. Take Target and Neimen Marcus, for example. In 2014, Target reported that 40 million customers had their debit and credit card information stolen during the holiday season, while hackers installed malicious software at Neimen Marcus stores in 2013, collecting consumers’ payment data during a four-month period, Forbes reported. Your company needs to take steps to protect its systems – today.

How important is cybersecurity?

A recent report from Bay Dynamics, a cyber risk analytics company, found that 26 percent of surveyed board executives said that cyber risks were their top priority this year. Surprisingly, in the survey, cyber risk fear outranked legal, competitive, financial and regulatory worries.

There’s bad news for IT professionals as well – 59 percent of board members who participated in the survey stated that one or more of their IT security executive team will lose their job should they fail to provide actionable information to prevent potential attacks.

How are you putting your systems at risk?

Your company cannot afford to fail to adequately protect its IT system. While creating a comprehensive risk analysis and securing your system are two major steps, there are more areas where you could be putting your business at risk.

For example, BYOD programs are increasing in popularity throughout the country. While useful for remote work policies, most studies show that these programs significantly heighten your chances for a data breach, according to Inc. Though organizations that handle sensitive information set up secure channels, an Advisen report indicates that 40 percent of BYOD employees don’t follow any security protocols to protect their devices from hackers.

Get more ideas about security

Plan for Disasters to Protect and Recover

Your company’s hardware suffers a meltdown. There are widespread power outages in your area. The river rises over its banks and floods into your building. A hacker maliciously compromises your system. Hurricanes, fires, earthquake — natural disasters or man-made — every business is vulnerable.

Disasters are inherently unpredictable and drastically range in degrees of severity. With Hurricane Sandy, up to 100,000 U.S. businesses were impacted — the vast majority closed for at least a day. And according to Forbes, about 30% of all impacted businesses failed due to the hurricane.

Because there’s the potential for disaster everywhere, every business needs a disaster recovery plan, also referred to as a business continuity plan. This plan should outline exactly how your organization will respond in the event of a disaster or emergency, help your business recover faster and protect the people in your organization.

Why is a BC or DR plan essential for your business?

While many areas of the two types of plans overlap, DR usually refers to the specific and swift steps you organization takes in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. As an IT professional, some of these may include restoring servers and mainframes with backups, or launching local area networks to meet business operational needs, according to TechTarget.

Like DR planning, BC plans outline detailed procedures and processes set in place to ensure continued functionality of critical operations during or in the immediate minutes following a disaster. Where they differ, however, is that a BC plan takes the situation further, to address long-term challenges, such as the sudden departure of key decision makers, catastrophic failures, malware infections and complete breakdowns of the supply chain.

How can you make your BC or DR plan better?

Say you already have the rough sketches of a complete plan – there are ways you can make it even better. First, you must assess your current plan, identifying its current strengths and weaknesses, according to Business 2 Community. Then you must analyze your company’s environment (no, not just the weather) and industry context to determine potential threats you could face.

For example, while your headquarters in Ohio might not have to worry about hurricanes, your newly opened office in Florida just might. In IT, you must effectively plan for IT issues by having systems and processes set in place that will warrant an immediate switch to backup servers should any problems arise – big or small. This way, you’ll keep your operations running smoothly, no matter what.

Also, recognize essential personnel and ask them to help work on the committee for protocols. Among those to include are people from human resources, IT, finance, facilities, customer service and communications.

Communication

Another huge consideration is communication. When is it safe to return to work. If the event is large enough, like an earthquake, freeways and transportation may be impacted in specific areas.

Know your employees phone numbers and ways to contact them. Supervisors in large organizations can contact people who report to them to convey information or you can ensure employees understand expectations — to check in with supervisors. If you have that contact information in the cloud or even hard copy, it makes it easier.

Something may happen when people are work

It’s also important to consider that something may happen when people are working. Tornadoes, for example, often happen with little warning. Keep up-to-date on safety protocols for all the events that could happen in your area and plan for them. Employees should know procedures to protect them so they can assist customers with them.

As part of your evacuation drills, communication is key here, too. If they need to meet somewhere, verify people know where and what they need to do.

How to Establish Rapport and Why It Matters

Building rapport with your customers may seem more like a pleasant side-effect of correspondence than a serious business strategy. Sure, it makes conversations more interesting, produces a real connection, and reminds you that the statistics you’re chasing — whether they be sales conversions or MQLs or anything else – are tied to real people. But building real relationships for your business is more than just a nice guy routine. It can have a noticeable impact on your business.

Want your customers to succeed

Seems simple, is simple. Your customers are the lifeblood — to be cliche — of your business. Their success is your success. Give them information and tools to help them be successful, including thought leadership content, ebooks and more.

Meet face-to-face and know your customers

You have to know your customers and let them know you. Meet face-to-face and build relationships.

Drew Frey, Customer Marketing Manager at ReadyTalk said, “You do business with people, and more importantly, you do business with people that you like — that make it easy for you to do business with them. It might be Mark from sales, or Cheri from account management — putting a face to a name is really powerful.”

Deliver a positive brand experience every time

itAnother aspect is a customer’s relationship to an organization as a whole. Deliver the brand promise in every interaction — from Marketing to Sales to Account Management to Customer Service. The entire process should be about building a good relationship at every single touch point, everywhere along the journey.

With social media, it’s more important than ever for those touch points to be positive, too. People will tell friends and family (potential customers) if they like or dislike their experience.

Turn Mistakes Into Opportunities

Mistakes happen no matter who you are or what your business is, but the way you address them can make a world of difference.

“I’d argue a huge part of ReadyTalk’s success is the rapport part of our business,” said Kim Wachtel, ReadyTalk’s director of customer experience. “If something goes wrong, handling it with integrity and proactive communication can actually build on that rapport and relationship, helping you retain customers in spite of those problems,” said Kim Wachtel, ReadyTalk’s director of customer experience.

Recently, a customer let us know our theories were right with a small unprompted post.

Target true advocates and give them opportunities to shine

Seth Godin talks about bringing advocates into your tribe, because they’re stronger than just brand ambassadors. They’ll talk about your product with friends, share thoughts on social media, and go beyond the typical business relationship to provide benefits you never thought of.

Take a recent experience at ReadyTalk. One of our salespeople cold-called a prospect, and on the other end of the call was someone who’d recently had a bad experience with a competitor and was considering switching. That prospect became a customer, and because ReadyTalk delivered more than the bare minimum, that customer became an advocate.

“Not only does he love ReadyTalk’s core product, but he’s so passionate about the experience he’s had that he’s willing to go above and beyond,” Drew explained. “A customer that started from a cold call has now provided us with a case study, a testimonial, and feedback to our product team, and will be mentioned in a media opportunity. And that’s just the last two weeks.”

You can cultivate advocates like this in a number of ways, and while they receive an experience they never imagined, you’re getting smart, savvy and loyal customers to share what they think about you.

Invite them to tradeshows

Shelby Knops, a ReadyTalk customer from Birst, attended a recent tradeshow with us. Shelby agreed to speak candidly with potential customers about ReadyTalk and our products. He answered questions and endorsed ReadyTalk consistently and honestly.

That never would have happened if Shelby didn’t feel a real connection to ReadyTalk, and real connection only comes with an intentional effort, consistent integrity and goodwill, and a desire for your customers to truly succeed.

Give them a community … and prizes

Another powerful part of ReadyTalk’s customer marketing is the Summit Club. It’s an online community where customers — true advocates — can interact with peers and employees. They’re also rewarded for feedback and “challenges” — like sharing information with peers. They get points for their advocacy and can redeem them for prizes.

In the end, happy customers create more happy customers

“Word of mouth is the oldest marketing channel in the book,” said Drew. “It’s also the most effective. If you provide a good experience, and go above and beyond to help your customers succeed, they’re going to tell people.”

Who? They’re going to tell their families and friends, people at networking events, partners, vendors — and those referrals are more powerful than any other marketing tools.

“It’s easy to discount word of mouth virality because it’s hard to track… But I really think there’s this undercurrent of good will and doing the right thing that goes a long way. It can even smooth over some rough patches,” said Drew. And that brings us full circle.

“How can you attain these prospects that don’t even know about you? I think a lot of it can be done with, yes, marketing efforts in general, but also by providing a great experience for your existing customers so they can’t help but tell their friends,” Drew says.