Everything old is new again. Many CIOs want to build on their early Salesforce investments and revitalize old front office tools to compete in the new digital economy. But how?

Many early adopters of Salesforce and other CRM systems are realizing that to support new business models and compete effectively in the rapidly evolving digital economy, they will likely need to revitalize their aging front office tools and processes. But how? Conventional wisdom holds that eventually most if not all IT services will be provisioned from the cloud—a model that Salesforce helped pioneer.

Will revitalizing legacy Salesforce applications and reworking sales and service processes ultimately entail ripping out legacy core systems and moving everything to the cloud?   

We don’t think so.

While there is a broader IT transformation underway—one which may eventually lead to a cloud-first standard—many organizations still rely heavily upon on-premises core systems and will continue to do so for the near future. Contrary to what some believe, there is no inherent operational conflict between cloud-based Salesforce and legacy, on-premises core systems. Indeed, the Salesforce platform is now becoming a critical gateway for connecting the edges to the core. 

As companies increasingly look for ways to provide their customer-facing employees with visibility into customer financials, inventory, product R&D, and other critical data that has traditionally lived in core ERP systems, they also want to automate customer onboarding processes, activate insights from advanced analytics, and create contextual, personalized experiences by seamlessly integrating content across social, mobile, Web, call centers, face-to-face interactions, and other channels.

So let’s examine how companies can leverage the Salesforce platform to extend their reaches into the core and, in doing so, derive more value from long-standing investments in both legacy front and back office systems.

Creating end-to-end opportunities

When considering options for transforming legacy systems, it is important to include in your calculations the untapped value lying within core systems that serve as the primary repository for critical financial, inventory, supply chain, and product/R&D data.

Core systems in this context are technology solutions that form the backbone of back-, middle-, and front-office operations. Investments in these tools— representing years of buying ERP packages, building custom solutions, and integrating an increasingly hybrid environment—have been critical to business success. Their shared goal has been to create greater efficiencies through standardization and automation.

Against this backdrop, many organizations are asking several fundamental questions: Have these core systems outlived their usefulness? Or, is it possible to revitalize them and, in doing so, extract additional value from our long-term ERP and large-scale custom system investments? Can we create hooks that connect cloud-based front- and middle-office applications into the core?

The ability to enhance early Salesforce core investments with additional functionality, while simultaneously unleashing stores of previously siloed enterprise data can help organizations not only transform their customer engagement strategies, but also create operational efficiencies and extract more value from long-term investments by creating a bridge from legacy front- and back-office systems, and the cloud.

“Bridge” opportunities exist across the enterprise, for example:

  • Empower sales reps by enhancing functionality – transform customer engagement and put the power of analytics in the reps hands.
  • Boost service capabilities and processes – hook into core systems and use this visibility to provide customers up-to the-moment information digitally.
  • Make customer service more proactive – tap into the power of social media monitoring to create customer messages that address customers’ complaints before they begin to snowball.
  • Tailor applications to specific industry needs – integrate Salesforce into vertical applications.  For example, combine onboarding and loan origination with the selling process.

The Systems Renaissance Journey Has Begun

Breathing new life into legacy front- and back-office systems improves upon the ways of old, and broadens the possibilities of tomorrow. As many organizations on a digital transformation journey are realizing, sales and service systems with deep hooks into the core can become a strategic differentiator, and provide a foundation for experimentation, innovation, and growth. It can also offer a roadmap for advances in in-memory, cloud, hardware, and other leading technologies, removing paralyzing complexity, and getting back to basics.

This blog post is based on the POV, Core Renaissance: Breathe new life into legacy systems with Salesforce.

Want to learn more about Deloitte Digital's work with Salesforce? Visit our Salesforce Alliance page.