With the shift for business IT to “move to the cloud”, what does an enterprise (or even a small business) do with those “legacy” applications and systems they’ve come to rely upon? Further, what is the right approach for the IT department, given the investment in software, processes, infrastructure and corporate culture already embedded in the organization? Even IF we believe the hype about ERP being dead, we have to recognize that there’s a lot of legacy ERP out there, and it’s not going anywhere any time soon.
[read Is This the End of ERP?]
While the enterprise businesses may be struggling with this issue, the smaller businesses have been living with the “next generation” for a while. If you look at Intuit QuickBooks, for example, you see a “legacy” software product meeting the recommendations for Legacy Modernization.
In a recent article on the blog Legacy Application Modernization, author Hollis Tibbets discusses advice for IT departments seeking to modernize their legacy enterprise applications, and summarizes the recommendations into a list of three considerations, or elements, necessary for a strategy of evolving continued use of embedded legacy applications in the enterprise.
1) leverage off-the-shelf SaaS applications for their (typically) superior ease-of-use, faster time-to-benefit, and reduced cost of ownership,
2) develop an extensible platform for future “extensions” as part of the Legacy Application Modernization strategy,
3) “build in” support for future social networking/social business networks
With the QuickBooks product line, Intuit has clearly addressed these three key elements of modernization of their QuickBooks desktop products, arguably one of the most prevalent “legacy” applications still broadly distributed in the smb market. And Intuit’s done a fine job of addressing these elements, as the product continues to boast strong numbers and the size of the developer and add-on product markets is still growing.
- The QuickBooks Connect services, QuickBase, and other web-based solutions offered through Intuit and their partner ecosystem allows businesses to leverage the benefits of subscription-model, web-based applications and tools for specific functional requirements, yet the data integrates seamlessly with the desktop solution, providing the features and capability finance and accounting users have come to rely upon.
- The Intuit Partner Platform, SDK, Sync Manager and other integration tools and methods are readily available for developers who wish to enhance or extend the functionality of the QuickBooks products. While the developer programs have existed for years, the ability for developers to now leverage standards-based web integration methods offers an improved means for distributing functionality while enabling sophisticated real time application and data integrations.
- Social networking elements and the “community” approach are becoming ingrained in the QuickBooks product line. From integrations enabling a more social business approach, to providing community-based support inside the product, Intuit clearly sees the value of social computing.
With the advancements in software development and cloud computing, businesses of all sizes can now access the tools and functionality necessary to service the needs of the enterprise, and have the service oriented approach that once only enterprise business could envision. The cloud allows businesses to do more, and with greater agility than before the cloud. Information technology is no longer limited to what you can do in your own facility, so legacy approaches must seek to leverage the mobility, the openness, and the extensibility enabled by the cloud computing model. It’s happening for small businesses today.