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Adapt for the Future – The Growing Need for Application Modernization

According to The Harvey Nash / KPMG CIO Survey 2019, of the 3,645 CIOs and technology leaders surveyed across 108 countries, “almost two thirds (64%) allow business-managed IT investment and 1 in 10 actively encourage it.”  This means that decisions concerning IT will

be made by a cross-functional team of stakeholders from business/operations and technology. So, what do you think will be the priorities for such a full-stack team of decision-makers?

In order to reduce time to market for their products, improve customer experience, and stay ahead of the competition, agility, scalability, and flexibility are identified as top priorities for businesses today. While digital transformation and automation are on top of the agenda, it is fundamental and inevitable for companies to reassess the feasibility of continuing with existing software applications – both core and non-core.

In this context, Application Modernization is gaining traction as a business priority at a higher rate than an IT initiative to upgrade applications to the latest technology or platform. When businesses evolve, the applications that once provided competitive advantage or operational efficiency tend to become less effective over time. One key approach is to integrate applications so that they share data and functions within a single user interface. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has firmly shifted the narrative towards remote working and to make this new paradigm shift effective, applications that were previously only used behind a firewall now need to be accessible for remote work. In order to better serve your customers, your employees need to have access to business-critical applications across their devices such as laptops, tablets, or mobile phones. An application that was designed specifically for a PC now needs to be compatible on mobile devices as well. You must make up for the steep decline in footfalls with powerful web and mobile apps that ensure you continue to interact with your customers and harvest meaningful data to understand changing preferences and behaviors.

While the board and the C-level executives recognize the importance of data-backed decisions, it’s imperative to assess and find out if your applications provide the necessary data and have the capability to analyse data and derive insights which can then be visually represented through dashboards. This aspect alone empowers businesses to rapidly decide and move forward with disruptive changes that puts them ahead of competition.

Why not just enhance existing applications and add new features through change requests?

Although this seems like a quick fix solution, often, it is quite expensive to enhance existing applications than redesigning and redeveloping the application using newer technologies to include new features and functionalities. In most businesses, it is the norm to find that IT departments are struggling to fix the defects in legacy applications and often spend disproportionately more time and resources on troubleshooting rather than focusing on value-adding activities such as supporting digitization and automation.

When you modernize applications using the latest technologies and platforms, you minimize the time and resources required to maintain and manage these applications. Let’s consider an example: a legacy on-premise application was modernized and a web app was built using Microsoft Azure App Service which offers auto-scaling and high availability. Your IT department won’t have to worry about managing the infrastructure anymore. Functionalities such as Managed Cloud Backups and Disaster Recovery as a service built-in reduces the time taken by the IT for maintenance, thereby freeing up time and resources to focus on reskilling and contributing to the strategic goals of the organization such as implementing AI, leveraging Business Intelligence technologies for better analytics and bolstering data security and protecting the organization from cyber-attacks.

74% of CIOs feel vulnerable to cyber-attack, as per The Harvey Nash / KPMG CIO Survey 2019. Storing encrypted passwords is the least efficient way to manage information security. The need of the hour is to ensure multi-factor authentication for all the applications. If you are in the healthcare industry, you need to worry about staying HIPPA compliant as well.

To summarize the pain points of legacy applications:

  • Rigid architecture – lack of flexibility and scalability
  • Lack of agility
  • Expensive to maintain and enhance
  • Difficulty in integrating to modular and flexible IT architecture
  • Lack of skilled resources to maintain and manage
  • Limited hardware and software options

These pain points make a compelling case for modernizing your legacy applications and retiring applications built on obsolete technologies. However, before you embark on the modernization journey, you need to understand the steps involved and plan for it as it entails multiple decisions such as choosing infrastructure and platform, determining security and compliance requirements, and identifying applications that are low-hanging fruits which could be immediately rebuilt. Stay tuned for our next post that will discuss the steps involved in application modernization.

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