“Legacy Software Holds B2B e-Commerce Down”

In 2019, Episerver revealed the results of a survey of 700 B2B executives. This research shows that their majority believe that outdated software and disjointed platforms hinder their e-commerce and digital growth the most.

84 percent of respondents agree. The increasing digital expectations of customers and partners are the biggest threat to their business. Episerver conducted this survey globally among 700 leaders working full-time at a commercial B2B organization.

Outdated technology

About 54 percent of those surveyed indicate that legacy systems slow down e-commerce development within their company. Especially in the field of ‘digital flexibility and expansion’, these companies are stuck. According to 59 percent, this software is the most important internal weakness to achieve ‘digital agility’. Many companies have a rich history of customization. This is in response to outdated but still operational business processes. Fifty percent of decision-makers indicate that they do not have the money to implement digital transformation programs in their organizations.

Biggest problems

The origin of this problem is usually in the initial purchase of software products. Many large-scale companies bought expensive state-of-the-art enterprise software decades ago. Big investments that promised mountains of gold. Maintenance and development was mainly carried out ‘on premise’, large batteries with developers were trained and instructed to build custom work based on business processes.

Every company thought it was special and could distinguish it from this kind of customization. Over time, especially in the last decade with the great growth of e-commerce, these large custom-built enterprise platforms were no longer suitable. Customers have an increasing expectation of online experience and want to be spared (especially within B2B) more and more often. Useful tools, simpler search engines, more intuitive interfaces… you name it.

What are the biggest problems that B2B companies with outdated software encounter? Below I have described four things that hinder the ability of B2B companies to offer a robust digital buying experience.


Outdated systems are usually used less and less (by other organizations). This increases operational costs. Not only license costs are an example of this, but also service costs. To hire or keep developers (specialized in this software or older programming languages) also has a higher price tag. After all, these developers are becoming increasingly difficult to caught. They retire (ba-dum-tss) or are retrained to more modern programming languages in which more work can be found. Updates are (if you have successful) part of the service costs. If not, you also pay the main price for this.


Outdated systems are relatively less secure. Usually there is less (intensive) support, or systems are simply no longer supported. The perfect prey for malicious hackers. Both the preventive and reactive sealing of (possible) leaks is also extra expensive.


Legacy systems often limit the ability to add the features and capabilities. I know of examples of old PIM (product information management) systems that cannot keep up with today’s demand from end users. The transparency and amount of desired product information is simply impossible to keep up with.


Outdated software can also harm productivity. In many companies, there is still a belief that employees are productive in using outdated software. This belief is usually not based on ‘best practices’ but purely stubbornness. Over time, more and more inefficiencies emerge. In these cases, due to old customization, a lot of labor is often required to adapt systems to support more modern working methods.

What does the future hold?

According to 72 percent of the respondents, by 2025, e-commerce will be the largest sales channel within the organization. This expectation makes it all the more worrying that many companies are still struggling with outdated, inflexible or non-scalable systems. That’s why now is the time to take action. In this way you can make a distinction in the longer term, compared to the dormant competition. So is your organization ready to go into the future?

Download the full“B2B Digital Experiences Report 2019”from the website on Episerver.

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