“Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.”

That oft-quoted expression, taken from Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol,” has been referenced to indicate items (i.e., dodo birds, mackerel, mutton) that were totally devoid of life. In another sense, that phrase could have been applied to the IT world as well. 

Take legacy systems, for instance. 

While the demise of legacy systems has been surmised, forecast, and telegraphed for many, many years -- “Legacy systems are dead” – it should come as no surprise that they continue to live and thrive in countless IT organizations around the globe.  For some, these systems remain a necessary and helpful hand. For others, legacy systems hurt -- to the tune of shortened careers, failing companies and diminished capabilities.

Steve Andriole, a professor for the School of Business at Villanova University, recently listed stubborn legacy systems as a sure-fire way to eliminate top IT jobs in his article “10 Constraints that Kill CIOs”.

In a world where change is “normal”, the legacy system remains a potentially huge obstacle for enabling speed, agility and nimbleness in today’s IT infrastructures. 

That opinion was reinforced by our recent research survey of 1,350 IT leaders around the world. We asked them about their top IT challenges (22% said legacy systems) and what items were on their major wish list of improvements (21% said reducing legacy IT). And while these numbers may not seem overwhelming, the message is clear -- that legacy systems continue to hinder and thwart both innovation and modernization.

The good news is that many things – including legacy systems – do have a life span. But don’t look for its obituary in the newspaper just yet. Just like Old Marley dragging his chains (and burdens) with him, many companies will continue to grapple with legacy systems for some time to come.

Note: if you would like some valuable insight into what your peers – and competitors – are doing to address legacy systems and a host of other IT issues, get a copy of our research publication at www.littlebookofit.com.