Legacy vs modern tech: CEO struggles and strategies

19 April 2024 • 3 min read

Old computer

Introducing new tech into an established ecosystem is daunting, especially if you’re grappling with complex, decades-old legacy systems. You’re juggling the uncertain promise of opportunity and return with the substantial costs and time you’ve already invested in your existing setup. Plus, there’s the potential disruption, the complexity of migration and the need for new in-house skills. But as businesses grow and the market evolves at pace, the ability to keep up will be made or broken by the agility of your tech stack. 

In our recent survey, 600 CEOs share how they’re approaching the legacy vs modern conundrum, where they’re focusing investments and how they’re responding to market pressures. Download the report.


Legacy investments are limiting customer-first innovation


Our 2024 survey, the CEO Digital Divide, exposes the struggles leaders are facing as they navigate the management and maintenance of legacy tech. Budgets are stretched, meaning leaders must deliver maximum impact and value from their existing tech before they can invest in anything new. 31% say that the investment burden is holding them back from becoming truly-customer focused - giving them a handicap against competitors who can deliver highly personalised digital experiences. 


CEOs are risking their organisations to keep up with competitors


Over a quarter (26%) of CEOs polled feel they’re in a race against time to replace legacy systems ahead of competitors, and they acknowledge that’s putting their organisation at risk. In fact, 64% admit to investing in tech with no clear understanding of how they’ll actually achieve ROI, in order to feel like they aren’t being left behind. These CEOs are poised to pivot where they need to, in a fail fast/learn fast approach - with 58% saying they’re willing to change business strategies if their chosen technology doesn’t deliver the outcomes they need. But when it comes to proving return on investment, a well researched “buy well, buy once” approach is still the fastest route to value. 


Leaders are under pressure to deliver - without the disruption


Time is money, and in the digital era, time offline is lost money. 45% of CEOs say they’re feeling the pressure to deliver new technology, with minimal disruption to their existing operations. Realistically, the move won’t be completely seamless, but it is possible to move fast and not break things; with proactive business continuity planning, risk assessments and a phased implementation. Clear communication will be critical to help ease stakeholder resistance and promote buy-in; ultimately accelerating the transition with minimal hiccups.


Balancing investments to accelerate value


It’s easy to get tangled in knots trying to balance legacy with modern technology - the stakes for getting it right are so high. Significant investment is on the line, but the hype of the “new” is prompting businesses to overlook missed opportunities in their existing infrastructure in a bid to stay current. And despite CEOs’ openness to pivot when they get it wrong, buying right the first time is still the fastest route to value. CEOs who invest the time early to uncover the right problem (and prove the use case for tech before diving in) will get the greatest value from both legacy and modern. A digital delivery partner can accelerate that process infinitely.



600 CEOs are sharing their approach to legacy vs modern technology, as well as the wider challenges that keep them awake at night. Gauge your own progress among C-suite peers, in the CEO Digital Divide.  


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