ost companies have taken the ﬁrst steps toward doing business in a digital world. They’ve set up ﬂashy websites, built mobile apps, opened e-commerce stores and taken to social media. Regardless of what companies offer—whether it’s a machine tool or a bank account—they now transact business with their customers via digital channels at least some, if not all, of the time. Thanks to Big Data, companies can now learn more about what their customers want and need. And, because of the abundance of information available online, their customers can learn more about their products and services, and more about those of their competitors as well.
While digital initiatives can deliver value, many executives have been lulled by a false sense of progress. Others have been disappointed that their digital efforts haven’t helped their business more. Sooner or later, every company will encounter roadblocks on its digital journey. The obstacles are likely to arise when a company tries to connect its digital initiatives with the organization’s hundreds of legacy IT systems and databases. In many cases, those systems have been in place for decades and can’t interface with new digital apps and architectures. And the data stored in these systems often isn’t ready to be accessed by digital solutions. Companies have plenty of data, but many fail to use it to their best strategic advantage. At the same time, their operating models can’t work at the speed of digital, and the company’s IT skills aren’t equipped for a digital world. Legacy IT, in short, can become the Achilles’ heel that thwarts digital success.