OpenLegacy Blog

Were Blockbuster's Legacy Systems Part of the Problem?

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The first Blockbuster store opened in 1985. From the outset, the chain really took off. It wasn’t just the corporate power and aggressive marketing – at the time, technologies like scanners and desktop computers were cutting-edge. Legacy systems weren’t “legacy” yet.

The first Blockbuster store opened in 1985. From the outset, the chain really took off. It wasn’t just the corporate power and aggressive marketing – at the time, technologies like scanners and desktop computers were cutting-edge. Legacy systems weren’t “legacy” yet.

blockbusterClosing.jpg

In fact, David Cook, the founder of the company, was a software guy, which makes the eventual demise of a major blue-chip company even more ironic. 

Fast forward to the 1990s, and the publicly traded company, under new leadership, was making all sorts of big plays, getting into the music industry, gobbling up competitors – but not too many years later, everything started to fall apart. 

By 1999, there were whispers of the Internet movie giants like Netflix that would ultimately kill Blockbuster, and the chain was already shuttering some stores.

Legacy system migration - too little, too late, or none at all?

Now, many people attribute Blockbuster’s demise to a lack of vision in terms of the business model – but what you would have seen, walking into a store around the turn of the millennium, were desktop retail stations that looked suspiciously like what the company was using in the 1980s. You didn’t have a growth of data handling, an overhaul of hardware systems.

In short, Blockbuster seemed, in many ways, to be leaning on legacy systems without a strategy for legacy modernization or legacy migration.

You could call its business model a “legacy system” as well, in the sense that Blockbuster never really made use of the ARPANET’s adolescent child, the growing world wide web, to battle rivals.

In fact, you could put the two together: what if, instead of running decade-old desktop computers in its stores, Blockbuster had publicly linked them up to the Internet, with display kiosks showing off new “virtual services?” What if Blockbuster had worked aggressively to overhaul its IT architecture? Would the chain still be in business?

Blockbuster’s effort toward new self-standing movie vending kiosks was too little, too late. Now consigned to the dustbin of history, the VHS giant is a reminder to always be innovating.

Legacy APIs and the digital revolution

But to be fair, the late 1990s are not like today. We are in the middle of a digital revolution, with data handling capacity changing and advancing rapidly – and that makes it all the more important to update legacy systems.

Companies in Blockbuster’s time didn’t have the opportunity to crunch numbers with Internet-connected servers in the ways that today’s companies do. With all that is available now, companies simply have to innovate away from legacy systems to compete. Businesses need to cultivate data assets, streamline business processes, and make their operations more agile, or they’ll quickly be left behind. And common technologies like application programming interfaces (APIs) had only started to emerge. Moreso, aggressive start-ups like Netflix didn’t have legacy systems to hinder their innovation and growth.

Use legacy APIs to be a blockbuster, not turn out like one

Legacy API integration and management has emerged as an alternative to complement or sideline challenges and complexities surrounding legacy modernization and legacy migration.  help organizations move with confidence into digital services for the web, mobile or the cloud. h

OpenLegacy can help companies quickly and effectively tie existing legacy applications into more innovative customer-focused systems with a API integration and management software. This is typically easier than migrating these systems, because it leaves the data and operations in place, but adds new features and functionality.

We can innovate a company’s use of business data and business intelligence, and consult on how a business can use the cloud to create faster and more muscular data results. We will help with the nuts and bolts of legacy enhancement, which can be a tough and complex process fraught with challenges. Ask us about how to get the right kinds of innovation into your business model, to stay competitive and relevant in a new digital age.

Learn more about how OpenLegacy can help you succeed with your digital transformation initiatives. Download our white paper, How OpenLegacy Tackles Core (Legacy) Challenges using API Software

Tags: Legacy Modernization, API Integration, API Strategy

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