Digital transformation. It’s the buzzword that’s on the mind of every technology professional as companies across all industries look to modernize their tech habits, because in this increasingly digitized world, every company is a tech company.
Cloud, mobile, and big data technologies are already forcing organizations across every vertical to adapt, and that’s just the beginning. Emerging technologies in the form of AI, machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain are further causing disruption.
With more than 80% of enterprises still in the early stages of digital innovation, the time is now to tap into this accelerated change of pace. Old infrastructure and the traditional ways of building apps are becoming growth inhibitors for enterprises and small and mid-sized businesses.
Companies need rapid innovation to rollout new business models, optimize business processes, and respond to new regulations. And business leaders and employees are demanding this agility – everyone wants to be able to connect to their Line of Business (LOB) systems through mobile devices or remotely in a secure and efficient manner, no matter how old or new these systems are.
What is Application Modernization
Legacy application modernization is a project designed to create new business value from existing, aging applications by updating them with modern features and capabilities. By migrating your legacy applications, you can include the latest functionalities that better align with what your business needs to succeed.
Keeping legacy applications running smoothly while still being able to meet current day needs can be a time consuming and resource intensive affair. That is doubly the case when software becomes so outdated that it may not even be compatible with modern day systems.
Why Do Enterprises Need Application Modernization
Let’s take this one step further – why do enterprises specifically need application modernization?
- Cost Avoidance: You can eliminate a costly capital expense in favor of a manageable and scalable operating expense.
- Staff Productivity: From fewer application incidents, improved team utilization, and new features and functionality, modernized applications are built to help your employees.
- Customer Experience: Similar to your employees, modernized apps are ultimately built to improve the customer experience by enabling new services and processes with a more user-friendly interface.
Build a New Revenue Stream: An updated system allows your business to create new services and processes that add value to the customer and create new revenue streams.
Legacy Modernization Strategies
Legacy modernization strategies can include the re-platforming, re-hosting, re-coding, re-factoring, re-architecting, re-building, or the replacement and retirement of your legacy systems.
Applications dating back decades may not be optimized for mobile experiences on smartphones or tablets, which could require entire re-platforming.
This isn’t to say that application modernization is about completely reprogramming from scratch.
Instead, it’s about taking the bones, or DNA, of the original software, and modernizing it to better represent current business needs. This can be invasive and involve heavy re-coding, or non-invasive by linking the app via a modern cloud service or web-based front end.
An example of invasive modernization comes in the form of rewriting existing application code written in COBOL – the first popular programming language designed to be OS agnostic dating back to the 1950s that is still used by many financial and business applications – to more modern and friendly programming languages like Java and C#.
There are thousands of Line of Business systems designed for budgeting, order processing, invoices, approvals, and so on that are vital to how an enterprise functions. The reality is that these business functions can be overly complicated.
Multiple systems may serve somewhat similar functions that require an employee to jump from system to system to get work done. These varying degrees of functionality can hamstring productivity, preventing businesses from reacting in a timely manner to disruptive situations.
In some cases, legacy infrastructure can be decades and decades old. IBM, for instance, still produces its IBM System Z mainframes that stretches back nearly half a century. It may not be easy or practical to replace a system that has been a core function of your business for that amount of time.
A company’s infrastructure may also be quite diverse, with some processes running on mainframes, custom-built apps, or on an ISV solution customized exactly for that organization. Apps could also be hosted in the cloud or on-premises, making this diverse array of systems more challenging to innovate on or maintain with the speed necessary.
Lack of Agility
With legacy applications and aging infrastructure comes a lack of agility in an organization. Employees spend about 28% of their time on administrative tasks like copying data from one system to another, conducting approvals across multiple systems, and spending time hunting down data hiding somewhere in one of these systems.
On top of slowing down employees, many CIOs report that 70 to 80% of their IT budgets are tied into running current processes or maintenance, leaving very little wiggle room for innovation. These legacy applications and aging infrastructures can be a drain on company resources that can be alleviated by application modernization.