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The race for technological modernization is now a race for survival. This is why, according to new Research from Infosys, 70 to 90% of legacy systems in existence today will be modernized within five years.
Despite the urgency, companies are forgoing rip-and-replace tactics and opting instead for phased modernization. The reasons range from the risk and cost of the “big bang” implementation, to the outdated image, to the impracticality of eliminating core legacy applications. On the other hand, the relatively low cost and near-zero interruption of ongoing modernization, and the assurance of business continuity, weigh heavily in his favour.
In addition, this approach fits well with the four things essential to a comprehensive IT modernization program: a data-driven enterprise, hybrid cloud adoption, focus on user experience, and connections through APIs.
Modernization makes the data-driven enterprise
A data-driven business is just that; it is an enterprise that integrates rich data to run day-to-day business processes, operations and decisions, and improves it over time.
Data-driven organizations combine digital technologies such as robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud and analytics to automate the enterprise, anticipate customer needs, predict and respond to events in real time, innovate and personalize products, create new business models imagining, and continuously learning. For example, a data-driven enterprise can use data to discover inefficient processes, identify alternatives, and even automate routine and rules-based processes. Furthermore, by deploying machine learning, it can initiate a continuous cycle of learning and improvement.
Unfortunately, most organizations are still a long way from being data-driven. The reasons are known; namely, legacy systems, multiple technology stacks, outdated processes and data silos that are inefficient, inflexible, slow and opaque – in other words, contrary to the principles of a data-driven enterprise.
Modernization greatly reduces these challenges. Simplifying monolithic, interdependent systems using platform-based components and open-source software solutions improves agility, adaptability and flexibility; also a composed core system is perfect for phased modernization.
Microservices, application programming interfaces (APIs), and webhooks enable data sharing within the enterprise – with AI, RPA, analytics and other solutions – to enable direct processing, and with the external ecosystem to improve innovation and business decisions. In fact, respondents to the aforementioned survey cited APIs, AI, and microservices as the biggest drivers of enterprise modernization, alongside data and analytics.
Last but not least: modernization prepares the organization for the cloud.
Modernization and cloud need each other
Modernization and cloud are so intertwined that it’s hard to imagine one without the other. Modernization makes enterprise systems cloud-ready, enabling them to work with various as-a-service models as well as cloud-native applications. In turn, the cloud has been the biggest accelerator of digital transformation and the sole reason for the success of remote working 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 and cloud infrastructure to accelerate modernization programs.
A mix of the public and private clouds from multiple providers, hybrid cloud offers the benefits of both; namely the agility, scalability and cost efficiency of public cloud, and the control, security and reliability of private cloud. In addition, it enables businesses to leverage interoperability between private and public cloud platforms.
With its elastic, virtually unlimited compute capacity, access to countless applications, and support for information sharing, hybrid cloud is more than capable of meeting the comprehensive data and analytics requirements of data-driven organizations. Hybrid cloud infrastructure also improves business processes, improving everything from customer experience to regulatory compliance to workforce productivity.
Modernization is meaningless without a matching UX
Users within the enterprise demand intuitive, frictionless experiences, as do customers outside of it; studies show that a large majority of people stop using apps because of a bad user experience (UX).
Therefore, when modernizing their legacy technology landscape, companies must also modernize the UX. This means redesigning front-end interfaces to facilitate access to data, reduce redundant processes and introduce efficient processes, minimize “clicks” with automated assistance features, make navigation of the new system intuitive, and so on.
While changing the infrastructure improves the performance of a system, changing the UX improves the performance of its users. One point to note is that usability encourages user adoption of the system, which is key to scaling the benefits of modernization across the enterprise.
Modernization through APIs connects the enterprise
Large organizations with complex technology landscapes — for example, multiple core platforms that are not neatly integrated — may need to undertake several modernization initiatives at once to shorten timelines. APIs make this possible by modularizing the architecture and decoupling core platforms so they can be modernized.
Thereafter, APIs play a vital role in facilitating integrations and data sharing between platforms, applications, channels, etc. throughout the enterprise.
IT modernization was always important, but during the pandemic it became a staple for survival. Today, the pandemic may have subsided, but modernization still needs to take place. While different organizations will take different journeys to modernization, they will cross the same milestones along the way – data, hybrid cloud, user experience and APIs.
Gautam Khanna is the Vice President and Global Head of Modernization Practice at Infosys.
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