Extending the Life of Legacy Systems -- Just Look to Business Intelligence

You've just gotten in second quarter results, and it's not looking good. Your CEO is on a tear to cut expenses, and you know your plan to replace the old legacy ERP system isn't going to make it, yet again. You're not able to extract the information you need, and your performance reports are starting to show it. What do you do?

CIO's are feeling the pinch as retailers scrutinize IT budgets for discretionary expenses - and senior management has few better cost centers in which to look for money than the IT department. However inadequate a legacy ERP system may be, it€„¢s typically an asset that€„¢s already written off. Thus, extending the lifetime of these assets as long as possible can be beneficial to a retailer facing a budget squeeze.

While holding off on major system replacements can be frustrating news for CIO's seeking to improve the usefulness of their data, Business Intelligence (BI) applications can help retailers overcome the inadequacies of the current systems and delay the need to replace.

Many retail organizations are concerned with ripping and replacing core ERP systems for the wrong reasons. These systems can be perfectly functional for inputting all necessary business data, but they are not built for consolidating data and outputting it into reports that are efficient and user-friendly. Business Intelligence (BI), on the other hand, interfaces with any core business system to consolidate data into concise, timely insight which promotes actions that can have a real effect on the bottom line.

Also, replacing core transactional systems is notoriously expensive, time-consuming, risky, and quite disruptive to an organization. There is no weekend long enough in which the engineers can come in, swap out the old system, restore the data, and have everyone back at work Monday morning. BI, however, is non-invasive and can interface and collect data from systems without interfering with a retailer's regular workflow. Ultimately, CIO's must adopt the position, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and since analytical output and reporting are not core capabilities of transactional systems -  insufficiencies in these areas should not be seen as a sign that they are broken.

There are, of course, valid reasons for replacing an ERP or other core business system. For one, a retailer may be experiencing data integrity issues that cannot be fixed. Or, a company may decide to go multinational and wish to merchandise out of a central location. Suddenly faced with the complexities of time, different currencies, cost models and more, it may be time to swap out the ERP system. In that case, BI can help tremendously in the changeover as it quickly and seamlessly interfaces with the new system without interfering with the others.

Additionally, BI coupled with a well-trained IT team can help make up the value and functionality of other specialized applications on a retailer's wish list at a time when discretionary expenses are cut. Forecasting, planning and allocation, loss prevention, and price optimization are all valuable facets of a well-rounded technology portfolio, but few retailers have the bandwidth or money to invest in all right now. While BI can't necessarily match the out-of-the-box capability of these specialized apps, it can fill in some of the gaps retailers are seeing in these areas in order to get more out of existing systems and put off spending unnecessary dollars.

Business Intelligence not only provides the consolidated analytical capability and single view of the business that retailers need, but it can also help extend the life of existing systems to save costs when it's most critical.
This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds