Thursday 14 July 2016

Is Your Legacy Software Holding You Back?

For many businesses, legacy software is a core component of their business infrastructure. Often, outdated and obsolete applications are entrusted with some of the most critical tasks that the business undertakes. Providing there’s support for a legacy system, and an understanding of the risks, there’s nothing wrong with continuing down this path particularly as many legacy systems benefit from stable platforms due mainly to their limitations and lack of flexibility.

But what happens if you lose the one support engineer that knows how to manage these systems or support is terminated as the product is deemed EOL. And what about that lack of flexibility could your legacy system be holding you back?

Catastrophic Consequences 

Our banking system is built on a foundation of legacy software. Many of the applications used to process transactions were coded more than four decades ago. As banks start to digitally transform their businesses, and as consumers rely on more on electronic access, some of these applications are creaking under the strain.

RBS has suffered a brace of IT problems, including downtime that has locked customers out for days on end. In December 2013, RBS customers were unable to use their debit and credit cards for hours on Cyber Monday - the busiest online shopping day of the year. This is one very clear example of legacy IT being unfit for purpose, and putting the core business at further risk.

The lesson here is that legacy systems need to be well maintained, with a full support package of maintenance with skills on tap and a very low level of understanding in order to achieve any kind of integration, if achievable at all, required to deliver to the demands of todays market. If this doesn’t happen, they are at best a ticking time bomb at worst a dinosaur, huge, cumbersome, eating up resources. The least agile solution you can endeavour to utilise and meet the latest consumer demands.

Unlocking the Potential of Transformation 

Automation and transformation requires different systems to be joined so that data can flow freely between them. Often, it isn’t possible to integrate a legacy system; either it isn’t designed for integration, or the process of integration would expose the legacy system to risk.

As such, legacy systems can hold back attempts to digitally transform a business, and they prevent it from exploring opportunities like process automation.

When you have one system that is isolated – often by necessity – you have a situation where data is going to be siloed, which also introduces compliance and data quality problems. There are three routes out of this trap: spend money on replacing the systems you have, migrate the systems to a new platform, or spend money recruiting people with the rare technical skills to continue as you are, treading water and getting left behind with the service levels and cost savings your competitors will be equipped to achieve with a more agile solution.

Embracing Change 

In July 2015, Microsoft discontinued support for Windows Server 2003. Businesses had to decide whether to pay for expensive, customised support packages, or invest that money into new systems.

Smart businesses use this as a driver for innovation. Many upgraded to Server 2008 or 2012, and treated the expense as an opportunity to improve the application, while others used the situation as an opportunity to move systems into the cloud.

Another group of businesses chose to place servers in a quarantined state. While this is certainly the cheapest solution on paper, those businesses continue to be frozen in time, unable to take advantage of transformation opportunities.

Retaining knowledge, and acquiring new skills, is a tall order. We’d certainly argue that digital transformation pays dividends long term. If you’re at a crossroads, contact OneFit for advice about your next move…it may not be a scary as you think with expertise in the latest technologies whilst understanding and able to offer quick routes for data transfers wherever possible to minimise the impact of implementation you may be surprised how quickly you can get an ROI from taking that important and innovate step into the future.

Tuesday 29 March 2016

How to Reconvert an Existing Customer

If you’re involved in setting your business marketing budget, you know that acquiring customers is expensive. It’s so expensive that it has been dubbed a ‘startup killer’.

While our techniques are constantly evolving and improving, the investment can be considerable.

Triggering repeat purchases is a great way to lift ROI, and it’s the reason why businesses spend so much on nurturing relationships. The potential gains from repeat custom are worth the investment, particularly in the B2B market where decision-makers may take many months to choose a supplier.

Measuring client loyalty

First of all, you need to figure out the lifetime value of your client. There are three KPIs to look at when assessing customer loyalty:

1.   The number of times they have placed an order
2.   The frequency of their order
3.   The value of the relationship, overall

Businesses prefer to strike up long-term relationships with suppliers, so we often find that B2B relationships are highly engaged. But if their purchase value is low, there may be additional opportunities to upsell and increase your margin with that client. Whether you approach them directly with a proposal, or improve your website to make your services clearer, there are many things you can do to drive extra income.

If a decision-maker returns to place a second order, but then drops off your radar, there could be an opportunity to bring that customer back into the fold by improving the value of the product or service.

And if the decision-maker is purchasing occasionally, but infrequently, you could perhaps tweak your offering to increase that frequency over time. For example, many businesses now work to a subscription payment model that encourages lock-in over the longer term.

Knowing your client

In the world of retail, companies set up loyalty cards and reward repeat purchases with incentives. In business, this kind of scheme is less common. However, there are cases where loyalty programmes can work in a B2B market. If the business is owner-operated, the owner is likely to be more sensitive to loyalty offerings, and a long-term relationship with a small business can become more lucrative as that business grows.

It’s important to know what you want to achieve, whether it’s B2B referrals, additional business, or a longer tie-in for the customer. Even if you don’t make more money from a loyalty programme, you can learn more about the customer and figure out why other customers may or may not be buying from you.

This might result in new website landing pages, new content marketing strategies, different payment options or an increased product range.

Of course, if you run a micro business, you might already have a good idea of who your best customers are – and what they spend. If that’s the case, simply pick up the phone and ask them if there’s anything else you can do to assist them.

Using your assets effectively

Across the board, having the right data about your clients is imperative when it comes to effective loyalty programs, and B2B markets are no different in that respect. Designing the right solution means thinking like a decision-maker, and using data to understand what makes them tick.

Maintaining data quality is an important part of the process, and you’ll need to allocate a certain amount of your budget to marketing and developing your brand. But as you get better at nurturing your existing clients, you should find that marketing becomes more effective, and results in more rapid growth for the business while leveraging the assets you already have.

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Are Your IT Systems Making Your People Less Productive?

If your business is ever to achieve its full potential, it needs to be productive. It must figure out how to get the best from its people, while using IT to support them in their work.

There are all kinds of things you can do to support increased productivity, from increasing natural light to allowing flexible working. You could allow people to bring their dog to work, or give people the occasional ‘duvet day’. But at the core of every business, the IT systems are key to realising your employees’ full potential, and that should be the first thing you examine.

Why IT enables productivity

Every business has processes, and it has IT to support those processes. If there are problems with the systems, it’s going to be more and more difficult for people to do their job. In an ideal world, there’s a state of perfect equilibrium where every part of the business supports everything else. Sadly, many businesses are failing to reach this state, even though they look fairly healthy from the outside.

The most extreme system problem is downtime, which will bring any critical service to a halt. Naturally, it will take the rest of the business down with it. Yet there are far more subtle system problems that can quietly chip away at your bottom line.

If you have an old Windows server running terribly out of date software, you might be wasting money on legacy IT that no longer earns its keep. You could be wasting money on duplicated work in your CRM system, simply because you can’t integrate its data with anything else. Your sales team might be struggling to keep in touch with the office, when all you really need is a new VoIP phone system to replace your PBX.

Your people expect more

Cloud computing is changing the way we live, work and relax. People expect to be able to go to work and use the same technology they have at home. If you haven’t transformed your systems and adopted cloud innovations, your employees are either going to stall on the job, or they’re going to create their own workarounds.

Neither of these situations is ideal for a growing business. If you provide cloud tools that facilitate collaboration and agility, you can expect to see significant productivity gains. If you don’t, you’re going to fall behind competitors who are already using those systems. The problem is compounded when people start using unapproved systems at work, because then you lose all control over the data you’ve worked so hard to secure.

Positive changes

If you identify gaps in your current systems, it’s important to have a strategy for their replacement. All too often, businesses rush in to cloud adoption, only to find they have a bunch of solutions that can’t be integrated properly. The key is to align your systems and processes as closely as possible, and use technology as a way to help your people be more efficient.

At OneFit, we’re passionate about the power of integration. We’ve seen the amazing results that digital transformation can achieve. If it’s time to support better productivity and bring about a positive change, contact us to find out how our scalable solutions will help.