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Chapter 2

Problem 2: Inability to innovate

The category of problems we have dubbed technical limitations revolves around the inability of outdated software to meet the changing requirements that come with the evolution of a company. When a new piece of software is created, it is bound by the paradigms and technologies of its time. Though some expansion on both technical and business sides might be anticipated, the rate of societal and technological changes in the last decades has been such that planning for the future is a near-impossible task.

Companies might want to expand into new markets or add products to their portfolio. If a warehousing system cannot cope with new types of products, this might seriously hinder the capacity of the company to respond to changing market demands.

A) Covid-19

The recent COVID-19 outbreak and related economic measures have highlighted the importance of being able to have staff work from home. Older software lacking networking capabilities can be a serious problem for companies affected by these measures. With no possibility to have staff work from the office, a company that cannot keep their employees working from home is in serious trouble. Schools faced with an immediate need to facilitate studying at home can be seriously hampered in their educational effectiveness if they cannot rapidly integrate video conferencing systems into their application landscape.

B) Online Retail

Currently compounded by the effects of COVID-19, which causes more people to order online instead of visiting physical shops, e-commerce has steadily grown over the last years. In 2019 alone, US e-commerce sales grew by 16.6%, while physical sales only grew by 3.9%. E-commerce sales in the Netherlands grew by 21% in the same year.

From vendors of digital goods like games and films to supermarkets, being able to sell products online has become a necessity for nearly every company. For example, current inventory numbers need to be made available by API, and automatic ordering has to be made possible. Without the ability to sell online, an ever greater source of revenue will go untapped, and the company’s image might suffer as competitors are perceived as more modern.

C) Data & Insights

Data fuels 21st-century business. Extracting the right information from the company allows executives to make the best decisions, allows the company to find and fix problems faster, gives insights into customer behavior, and helps optimize business processes. While modern IT systems are often designed with the need for efficient data-gathering and monitoring in mind, older systems can predate this mindset. IT systems that do not allow monitoring and data-gathering can deprive the company of information needed to make the best business decisions.


With data being called the 21st-century equivalent to oil, being able to connect different data sources and trade data, has become critical to some companies’ business success. With data platform providers like Google and Facebook leading the way, more and more companies create a layer of APIs over their systems enabling rapid integration with business partners, customer systems, suppliers, and government systems. Creating a set of easy-to-use APIs can encourage those external parties to connect with your systems, and share their data in return.

Not being able to supply an API landscape, or to consume APIs published by business partners, can hinder the streamlining and optimization of business processes. Older software, created without the requirement for data integration in mind, can impede this ability.