We still regularly come across outdated software in the logistics sector. I asked myself whether this is actually an issue or not. Each time I raise this topic with companies, they praise the stability of their own old systems. Furthermore, everyone within the company is already familiar with the system. And the costs of maintaining the system will be low as well.

At first glance, nothing seems wrong with this. However, it is not just the used technology that ages; the same holds true for the selected architecture of the logistics software, for its adaptability and for the ability of a company to keep up in an ever-changing world. With some tricks, it is usually possible to keep old software running on newer hardware. But who wants to continue investing in outdated development environments? The question is how long you can still have a black and white television repaired. Which continuity risks do you consider acceptable? Anyone who needs to have something programmed in Basic or Cobol will have to do their recruiting in a retirement home.

On top of that, new software is based around new logic. From the typewriter in the 1980s to the rise of databases in the 1990s and the introduction of Windows: all constituted major leaps forward. Workflow management put an end to process errors. Big data, software robots and the 24/7 self-reliance of customers and suppliers followed. New technology has resulted in new functional capabilities and different, far more productive operational approaches.

In addition, developments are continuing at breakneck speed. It is not that long ago that a software developer would first study the processes of a company and collect all the output documents to then start building in that way. The work processes were embedded in the software and usually the operation and accounting were combined in a single package. That felt like a harness, without any flexibility and possibilities to adapt to changing circumstances.

Change goes much further than IT

Today's successful companies however are ‘agile’ and use many applications from different suppliers. Change is the new standard and this goes much further than IT. Look around you and you will notice a radical overhaul of business models in almost every sector. Agility imposes new demands on the technology and the possibilities for collaboration of software systems in this respect. Low code is essential for being able to build new functions with few resources (Mendix, Apex, Outsystems, etc.) and for quickly integrating them into the existing application landscape via ESB (enterprise service bus such as Seeburger, Talend, Biztalk etc.). If the customer asks for something, they want to have it realised ‘tomorrow’.

It should be clear: it is simply impossible for a company to keep up with these developments using outdated software. No matter how much an outdated standard package may still appear to be sufficient. If you decide to hold onto such software as a company, you need to be absolutely certain that you will continue doing exactly the same things in the coming years. Moreover, you must also be able to take for granted that your supplier will survive. But just reflect on the last five years, or simply look around you. Then you will know what to do.