In today’s quickly evolving digital landscape, businesses need to keep up with the competition, deliver on customer expectations and provide seamless ways of working for their employees. While it may seem a considerable challenge, the cloud has created a way for all businesses to become digital. It delivers platforms that connect everyone to the same cloud-based infrastructure and facilitates data sharing, innovation and agility.
While legacy IT systems may have seemed more than capable a few short years ago, they are now rapidly becoming obsolete. To bring them up to today’s standards, they often require much more than an upgrade. Modernisation focuses on not just the tools and functions but the people and processes. Principles of the past are no longer current. The world is becoming increasingly connected; sensors and internet connections are embedded in a multitude of tools and software is no longer sold as a package to install.
The most important part of upgrading and changing applications hasn’t changed, however. Organisations need to retain their competitive edge, and as such, modernisation needs to create business value. To successfully modernise an organisation’s applications, a strategy is required that ensures the right investment and decisions are made, and that value is delivered as quickly and as effectively as possible.
Here are six key areas that organisations should consider when creating an app modernisation strategy:
1. Applications Should Deliver Customer Value
There are many reasons why organisations embark on app modernisation, but one of the key goals has to be to deliver value. Changes in technology and systems should always amplify customer benefits. This can be in the form of better experiences, improved products or reduced costs.
Customer outcomes should be clearly outlined in the business case for modernisation. Measurable metrics should be identified to ensure that efforts deliver on their promises. This can include customer retention, user experience and sales. To ensure that the customer is always front of mind, cross-functional teams should be involved in planning and designing the modernisation strategy. This will ensure that technical knowledge and business knowledge is combined to create a true awareness of anticipated results.
To get to the heart of customer value, organisations should ask themselves what problems they are trying to solve and how this will deliver value.
2. Modern Architecture Should Be Simple
As applications and systems grow alongside businesses, the underlying architecture often becomes incredibly complicated. It evolves in a haphazard nature and can include many different coding languages, data structures and integration requirements. While each technology would have been fit for purpose in each application, the network can become challenging to adapt, refresh and integrate. Making changes can require significant effort, and cost, and the full implications of change can be poorly understood.
Modern platforms have changed the way that applications work together. Software code and integration standards have been implemented to enable interaction to be straightforward without the need for bespoke designs. Application programming interfaces (APIs) create components that work together and interact seamlessly, meaning that data can be shared instantly across the enterprise and huge efficiencies gained. Meanwhile, the likes of software as a service (SaaS) allows businesses to create new functions on-demand without needing to manage implementation or underlying resources.
When creating an app modernisation strategy, there shouldn’t be a trade-off between simplicity and features; systems should be able to deliver both.
3. Systems should be designed for flexibility
Businesses need to be able to continually adapt to remain competitive. This involves creating innovative products, services and practices. However, to deliver this, their systems need to be able to keep up the pace. This is often a key driver behind modernisation, while older systems focused on functionality, they weren’t built for change. Legacy applications are famously slow and rigid and inhibit business growth.
Modular systems should be incredibly flexible, rapidly accommodating changes in configuration. By ensuring that app modernisation strategy considers flexibility, organisations are future-proofing their systems and their business model.
4. The whole business should be invested in success
It’s easy to think of app modernisation as the remit for the IT department. However, new technology doesn’t sustain itself; it requires people to accept change and embrace new ways of working. Systems should be adopted that fit with a company’s culture. It’s vital to recognise the new habits that people will need to adopt as part of a modernisation effort.
Modernising applications can involve a considerable cultural shift. It’s fundamental that employees across the business are engaged with new technology and that the training is put in place for them to learn any new skills that will be needed. Ensuring that users feel involved in the process of modernisation greatly helps engagement. As part of a modernisation strategy, roles should be given and regular updates communicated. Only in this way will the whole business feel invested in the outcomes.
5. Strategy should focus on services not assets
While legacy applications are seen as company assets, modern applications more closely resemble a set of services that can be consumed and integrated as required. Taking a different viewpoint on the IT function will ensure that an adaptable solution is built. Modernising systems for outsourced services means that they are much more easily adapted or replaced.
To focus strategy on services, businesses should ask themselves what essential services they currently provide, whether they are organised based on the outcomes of the services and what other services they could provide to deliver value and increase efficiencies.
6. Technology partners should have shared values
App modernisation is a lot easier, and more successful when businesses choose partners based on shared values and trust. As technological systems that are being modernised are critical to business success, they are not a one-off purchase. It’s vital to build working relationships that involve a high level of commitment, collaboration and communication on both sides.
When selecting partners, businesses should ask themselves what values are important to them and how they can build mutual trust.
By embarking on application modernisation, the aim is to build an effective and sustainable business model. The key to success is planning. A modernisation strategy should focus on customer value, simplicity and flexibility, ensuring that solutions, vendors and employees can work together to deliver value from the outset
The Control Data 6600 – 1964
Generally considered to be the first successful supercomputer, it held the title of the world’s fastest computer from 1964 to 1969.
Developed and created by legendary computing pioneer Seymour Cray, the 6600 prompted the rival IBM CEO of the time to write in a memo to his employees:
“Last week, Control Data..announced the 6600 system. I understand that in the laboratory developing the system there are only 34 people including the janitor. Of these, 14 are engineers and 4 are programmers…Contrasting this modest effort with our vast development activities, I fail to understand why we have lost our industry leadership position by letting someone else offer the world’s most powerful computer.”