Featured, Systems Orchestration, Digital Transformation

Should You Integrate Your Legacy Marketing Systems or Get Rid of Them?

Connor Jeffers
Written by: Connor Jeffers

Not long ago, “automation” was one of the most important new concepts in digital marketing. Today, it’s considered a marketing standard.

And yet, according to one study, only about 50% of companies used some form of marketing automation in 2018.

Part of the reason companies are hesitant to adopt new marketing technologies is their dependence on legacy systems. If you and your team are fully invested in a tool, it may seem counterintuitive to abandon it. This is especially true if you’ve mastered that tool or if new tools seem too expensive or complicated.

But your reluctance to adopt new technology could cost you.

For example, over 80% of the Fortune 500 companies from 20 years ago are no longer ranked on that list. Many of them dropped off because they failed to transition into an internet-based business model in the late 1990s. They’ve been replaced by newer, digital-native companies whose models are built for innovation and technology adoption.

But every organization struggles at some point with their legacy systems — even information technology companies. In a survey of enterprise IT companies, 76% of IT decision makers said they had data trapped in legacy systems which could not be accessed.

If your marketing is being held back by legacy systems, you can pursue legacy system integration. However, you could also transition to a new marketing technology stack. Here’s what you need to know about making your decision.

What is a Legacy System?

A legacy system refers to any type of old and outdated technology that is still in use. It can also refer to old methods of operating, obsolete programs, or even old-fashioned concepts, as well.

Generally, the costs of maintaining a legacy system are high. A legacy system may not integrate with new technologies, creating silos and other barriers within your organization. These barriers cost you time and money due to inefficiency.

In the past, technology systems were designed to have a long lifespan. But because technology is now advancing faster every year, those old systems can’t keep pace with the new ones. Even patches and updates fall short, and as systems age, updates are fewer and farther between.

For example, let’s say a manufacturing plant has a piece of machinery that’s been in use for decades. Even though it runs on the antiquated MS-DOS operating system, executives at the plant haven’t adopted a new machine — they haven’t had to.

The old machine has always worked fine, so why change it?

But when the manufacturing industry is disrupted by automation and AI, those executives now have a difficult decision to make. Do they spend an inordinate amount of money on new machines or do they attempt to make do with their old ones?

Legacy systems work the same way in marketing. You may be married to an old marketing system. But if all your competitors are using the latest technologies, you may fall short. When the time finally comes to upgrade, the project may be more challenging and expensive than if you had adopted new tech earlier.

Legacy System Integration

In computing, legacy system integration is a way to keep essential systems intact while also onboarding new systems. Typically, an IT professional will integrate an outdated (but essential) application using an Application Programming Interface (API) platform.

When it comes to marketing technology, more and more software providers are catching on to the importance of systems integration.

For example, most CRMs already come with several potential integrations. While these are typically catered to the most popular applications and technologies, they may also have their own API platform to enable businesses to create their own integrations.

Ultimately, integrating your legacy systems is your decision. You should be aware that:

  • Upkeep gets more expensive as systems age
  • Vendor support may end
  • Legacy systems may be too complex to manage
  • Even small changes can cause problems
  • Qualified experts may be hard to find in the future

Nonetheless, there are still a few reasons to keep and integrate your legacy marketing systems.

A shiny new marketing technology stack can be expensive. Your old systems may represent a big financial investment and you may not have the budget yet.

Furthermore, your legacy systems may still add value. Some businesses find that they thrive with a specific type of marketing technology, even if it's dated. Replacing it may be a risk that isn’t worth it, at least not yet.

If legacy system integration makes more sense financially and from a value standpoint, it may be an option.

Replacing Legacy Systems

If you’re ready to take the plunge and adopt a new marketing technology stack, you may need to replace some or all your legacy systems.

Many would argue that legacy systems simply don’t have a place in business anymore. They’ll become obsolete eventually and they only slow down company growth.

Furthermore, your audience and your competition won’t wait around for you to adopt new technologies. Most consumers expect a fast, personalized experience from brands. According to one consumer survey, 67% of respondents said it's important for brands to automatically adjust content based on their context.

You simply can’t achieve this type of real-time personalization with outdated systems.

Adopting a new technology stack will involve some growing pains. You may need to be patient before you start seeing ROI. Generally, there will be a transitional period for your team to learn the new systems and put them into practice.

You’ll also need to develop a transitional plan. This plan should include all the new technologies you intend to adopt and how they will work together to drive value.

If you have additional questions about legacy system integrations or adopting a new technology stack, you can always reach out to marketing technology experts. Contact Growth Panda today to discuss your goals. We can empower your team with the skills they need to thrive with their new technology.