Unveiling the future: Insights from a dynamic panel discussion on legacy modernisation in retail



The retail industry finds itself at a crossroads between tradition and innovation. Legacy systems, once the backbone of operations, now pose challenges in keeping pace with the demands of the modern market. Recognising the need for a transformative approach, we recently hosted a thought-provoking panel discussion on “Legacy modernisation in retail.” The session featured esteemed panellists Vikas Hazrati, Ram Indukuri and Bhavya Aggarwal, who delved into the intricacies of zero-risk modernisation, business challenges and the best-fit architectural options for this critical transformation. 

During this 45 minute session, the discussion touched on the impact of legacy systems on business growth and the necessity for modernisation. The panellists shared insights on the challenges and opportunities in legacy modernisation for the retail industry.  

The discussion started with Vikas who shed light on how business assess the need for modernisation and strategies that allow retailers to modernise systems without disrupting existing operations 

The high cost of outdated technology

Outdated systems often hinder business growth, rather than enabling it. While there was nothing wrong with how these systems were originally built, advancements in technology and evolving user experience demands have created a need for change.  

In the North American retail industry alone, there are over 1,000,000 businesses, but nearly 70% of them are expected to fail within the first 10 years.

The 30% who are successful have invested in legacy ecosystems that now require evolution to meet industry needs and expectations. However, organisations face several challenges in the modernisation process 

  • Cost: Maintaining end-of-life technology, such as mainframe-based systems or outdated SQL server stored procedures comes at a cost 
  • Shortage of skilled labour: Most professionals prefer to work on more advanced systems and modern technology leading to a shortage of skilled labour willing to work on these legacy technologies 
  • Accumulated technical debt: Organisations invest significant resources just to keep these systems operational 

For example, one of our client spends 67% of their IT budget on maintaining legacy systems instead of developing new functionality

  • Customisation: Many retailers have highly customised systems that are difficult to modify and do not align with industry standards 
  • Data management: Data duplication and a lack of a single source of the truth impedes decision-making and leads to inventory issuesl 

The impact of AI and IoT on modernising retail systems 

The influence of technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of things (IoT), and Extensible Markup Language (XML)  in our lives today cannot be overlooked. These advancements have paved the way for the modernisation of various systems. One of the key drivers for this modernisation is the inability to parallelise feature development in legacy systems. These systems are often complex and rely on the knowledge of a few individuals, making it difficult to implement new features. This dependency on a limited number of people poses a significant risk if they were to leave the company. Therefore, the speed at which features can be implemented becomes crucial in the automation process.  

A global study of tech leaders (CIOs, CTOs etc) has found that only 15% are prepared for the demands of generative AI

In the retail industry, AI plays a vital role in forecasting, which is essential for supply chain management. With modern supply chains becoming thinner, the need for accurate predictions and efficient inventory management is paramount. AI can help retailers optimise promotions, drive sales, and streamline their operations.  

However, for AI to be effective, it must be integrated into the core systems of a business. Legacy modernisation is crucial in ensuring that systems can adapt and respond to AI predictions. Additionally, AI has other applications, such as personalised recommendations and enhancing the in-store experience. The use of technologies like semantic web, IoT, and cashier less stores further emphasise the need for flexible and scalable systems. As a result, legacy modernisation has become a significant focus for businesses looking to leverage the benefits of AI and other advanced technologies. 


The importance of feedback mechanisms in AI systems 

When it comes to AI and recommendation systems, one crucial aspect that often gets overlooked is the feedback mechanism. Without a proper feedback system, AI models cannot accurately improve and evolve. Building a model is just the beginning; the real challenge lies in continuously capturing feedback and refining the model accordingly. Unfortunately, many organisations dive into AI without laying the necessary foundations, akin to wanting to reach the penthouse without building the floors beneath. To truly leverage AI and advanced technologies, modernising applications and architectures is essential. This includes adopting event-driven architectures, enabling easy integration, parallel development, and fast feature deployment. Each client may have unique problem domains, requiring customised solutions that address scalability, integration challenges, and legacy systems. By embracing modernisation and incorporating the right architectural approaches, organisations can unlock the true potential of AI and propel themselves towards success. 


Key takeaways:  

The panel discussion provided a platform for the exchange of ideas and practical solutions, leaving attendees with several key takeaways:  

  1. Strategic planning is paramount: Successful modernisation requires meticulous planning to minimise risks and disruptions.  
  2. Holistic approach to business challenges: Retailers should approach modernisation holistically, considering both short-term challenges and long-term benefits.  
  3. Architectural flexibility: The choice of architecture should be flexible, tailored to the specific needs of the retail business and capable of adapting to future technological advancements. 



The “Legacy Modernisation in Retail” panel discussion served as a valuable forum for industry experts to share their perspectives on navigating the complexities of modernisation. With insights from Vikas, Ram, and Bhavya, attendees gained a deeper understanding of zero-risk modernisation, business challenges, shrinkage control and architectural options. As the retail landscape continues to transform, these discussions play a crucial role in guiding businesses toward a future where innovation and tradition seamlessly coexist. 


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