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The race for technological modernization is now a race for survival. That’s why, according to new research from Infosys, 70-90% of legacy systems in existence today will be modernized within five years.
Yet despite the urgency, companies are moving away from rip-and-replace tactics, opting instead for phased modernization. The reasons range from the risk and cost of the “big bang” implementation, to its outdated image and the impracticality of removing core legacy applications. On the other hand, the relatively low cost and almost zero disruption of incremental modernization, and its guarantee of business continuity, weigh heavily in its favor.
Additionally, this approach fits well with the four things that are essential to a comprehensive IT modernization program: a data-driven enterprise, hybrid cloud adoption, a focus on user experience, and connections through APIs.
Modernization makes the data-driven enterprise
A data-driven business is just that; is a company that integrates rich data to run day-to-day business processes, operations and decisions, and improves them over time.
Data-driven organizations combine digital technologies such as robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud and analytics to automate the business, anticipate customer needs, predict and respond to events in real time, innovate and customize products, devise new business models. and continually learn. For example, a data-driven company could use data to uncover inefficient processes, identify alternatives, and even automate those that are routine and rule-based. Plus, by incorporating machine learning, you can kick-start a continuous cycle of learning and improvement.
Unfortunately, most organizations are nowhere near being data-driven. The reasons are familiar; that is, legacy systems, multiple technology stacks, outdated processes, and data silos that are inefficient, inflexible, slow, and opaque; in other words, antithetical to the principles of a data-driven business.
Modernization mitigates these challenges to a great extent. Simplifying monolithic, interdependent systems with the help of platform-based components and open source software solutions improves agility, adaptability, and flexibility; in addition, a central system divided into components is perfect for retrofitting in stages.
Microservices, APIs (application programming interfaces) and webhooks enable data sharing within the company, with AI, RPA, analytics and other solutions, to enable direct processing, and with the external ecosystem to improve innovation and decisions commercial. In fact, respondents to the aforementioned research ranked APIs, AI, and microservices as the top drivers of modernization among businesses, after data and analytics.
Last but not least, modernization prepares the organization for the cloud.
Modernization and the cloud need each other
Modernization and the cloud are so intertwined that it’s hard to imagine one without the other. Modernization makes enterprise systems cloud-ready so that they can work with various as-a-service models as well as cloud-native applications. In turn, the cloud was the single biggest accelerator of digital transformation and the single reason for the success of remote work during the pandemic.
Organizations continuing their modernization journey should consider hybrid cloud before any other option. Hybrid cloud acts as a bridge between on-premises infrastructure and the cloud to accelerate modernization programs.
A combination of public and private clouds from multiple vendors, the hybrid cloud includes the advantages of both; namely, the agility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness of the public cloud, and the control, security, and reliability of the private cloud. In addition, it allows companies to take advantage of interoperability between public and private cloud platforms.
With its virtually unlimited elastic computing capacity, access to myriad applications, and support for information sharing, the hybrid cloud is more than capable of meeting the extensive data and analytics requirements of data-driven organizations. Additionally, hybrid cloud infrastructure improves business processes, improving everything from the customer experience to regulatory compliance to staff productivity.
Modernization is meaningless without a matching UX
Users within the company demand frictionless and intuitive experiences just like external customers; Studies show that a vast majority of people stop using apps due to poor user experience (UX).
Therefore, when modernizing their legacy technology landscape, companies must also modernize the UX. This means redesigning front-end interfaces to make data easier to access, reducing redundant processes and introducing efficient ones, minimizing “clicks” with automated assistance features, making navigation of the new system intuitive, etc.
While changing the infrastructure improves the performance of a system, changing the UX improves the performance of its users. One point to keep in mind is that ease of use encourages user adoption of the system, which is key to scaling the benefits of modernization across the enterprise.
Modernization via API connects the business
Large organizations with complex technology landscapes, for example, multiple core platforms that are not seamlessly integrated, may need to undertake multiple modernization initiatives in parallel to shorten timelines. APIs enable this by modularizing the architecture and decoupling core platforms so they can be modernized.
After that, APIs play a crucial role in facilitating integrations and data sharing across platforms, apps, channels, etc. throughout the company.
IT modernization was always important, but during the pandemic it became a survival staple. Today, the pandemic may have receded, but modernization has yet to move forward. While different organizations will take different modernization journeys, they will cross the same milestones — data, hybrid cloud, user experience, and APIs — along the way.
Gautam Khanna is the Vice President and Global Head of Infosys Modernization Practice.
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