The soaring popularity of modern-day software approaches like containerization, microservices, DevOps, low-code, and serverless computing, among others, is encouraging enterprises to embark on a quest to redefine all the traditional “rules” of how they design, build, and release their applications. And this sits well with the current business landscape as enterprises across industries are pushing hard to reduce costs, mitigate risks, boost agility, and accelerate delivery cycles – all to stay ahead of their competition.
With these modern application styles becoming an integral part of the enterprise IT landscape, it is utterly essential for enterprises to invest in next-gen technologies that can serve as building blocks to accelerate digital transformation initiatives and keep pace with the market.
At the center of this next-gen revolution is the strategic move to modernize enterprise applications – a process that not only emphasizes enhancing the overall performance and functionality of applications but also enables enterprises to leverage the full potential of emerging technologies to create innovative, agile, and scalable applications.
This article serves as a guide on how enterprises can modernize their enterprise applications, why they need to modernize in the first place, and what stops them.
Why Modernize Enterprise Applications?
Software obsolescence has always been an issue for enterprises. Compatibility, functionality, and security being the foremost problems to tackle after a period of time, thereby rendering applications inefficient in delivering business outcomes. Today, this problem has magnified owing to the fact that applications and systems are regularly updated and upgraded. For example, Android and iOS get regular incremental updates throughout the year.
Here are the problems that surface when businesses stick with legacy applications for too long:
- These applications fail to leverage the capabilities of technologies like AI, Big Data, and the Cloud.
- They deliver sub-optimal performance owing to poor scalability and high cost of ownership.
- They are difficult to integrate with newer applications owing to obsolete architecture and technologies, thereby making them non-compliant with cloud-native assets or modern CMSs, etc.
- They are difficult to scale owing to inflexible architectures.
- They are infamously vulnerable, especially when it comes to cyber threats.
- They require huge investments for refactoring, bug resolution, updating, and patching – thus contributing to the mounting technical debt.
All in all, failure to modernize enterprise applications not only compromises mission-critical capabilities but also leaves enterprises exposed to all sorts of digital risks, including security breaches and data loss.
But, Why Don’t Businesses Modernize Their Applications?
That’s the question for the ages! But, as it stands, it’s not too difficult to understand why businesses shy away from modernizing their applications.
To begin with, it’s an endeavor that requires a lot of planning and coordination before introducing a newer technology into the mix, especially when enterprises are already burdened with having too many systems in place.
The second hurdle is the cost of modernizing – which sometimes, as a rule of thumb, goes beyond the value of an application in itself. In the Infosys Modernization Radar 2022 survey, 23.8% of the CIOs expressed concerns about the cost of embarking on the overhaul. The risk of disruption (26.6%) and lack of in-house skills (50.6%) were also labeled as factors that inhibit enterprises from modernizing their applications.
Another reason for reluctance sources from inherent bias that can be summed up by the sentence – “Why modernize something that is working perfectly fine?” The bureaucratic inertia compounds the issue further, as the organization’s IT department is not amenable to helping change the status quo.
But, if businesses want to experience increased agility, deliver improved customer experiences, reduce technical debt, bolster system integrations, secure data, and retain high-value customers, modernizing their applications should be a priority. They need to come out of the mindset of sticking with what’s proven and justifiable and start viewing modernization as a long-term initiative rather than a short-term fix.
So, How to Modernize Enterprise Applications?
Modernizing enterprise applications can be an inherently complex process, for it depends on several critical factors like business continuity, technical infrastructure readiness, and availability of necessary skills. But it doesn’t have to be that way if a logical approach is put forward.
While the modernization journey will vary from one organization to another, the following steps can be templatized to form a foundation for an effective modernization strategy:
Develop a Vision and Roadmap
This is meant to set the direction as well as understand the enormity of the task ahead while keeping in mind the targeted business case and the necessary resources, time, and budget. It will also help decide the approach to modernization – for example, whether to pursue a phased or iterative modernization approach.
Note: Iterative modernization, where the journey is broken down into small batches or phases, enables enterprises to quickly adapt to changing priorities, invite stakeholders into the mix, reduce the risk of disruption, and keep track of the overall progress.
Define How the Success Would Look Like
Knowing what success will look like will help the organization to understand how to measure it. This should encourage teams to focus on the key metrics. At times, it might not be feasible or possible to measure success with hard numbers. Instead, define the measurement by the degree of improvement, like a 10% increase in conversions or a 10% drop in support ticket volume.
Identify the Easier Path
While some organizations would pursue modernizing the low-hanging fruit, others might want to upgrade more significant systems first. This is where Gartner’s guide to modernization processes comes in handy. Gartner defines (and ranks) seven options by the ease of implementation: encapsulate, rehost, replatform, refactor, rearchitect, rebuild, and replace. Choose one that best fits the business case.
Adjust the Process and Repeat
The process that’s followed for modernizing a system should be designed with the objective of making the journey as smooth and easy as possible. With actual experience comes definite knowledge about what works and what doesn’t so that obstacles and blockers can be anticipated. So, once you measure the success of a particular step, the process can be tweaked and adjusted to ensure that it becomes safer, cheaper, and faster.
Partner With the Right Technology Expert
Of course, it’s possible to self-drive the modernization process; however, that would entail a lot of research, time, and money. In most cases, it would be beneficial for enterprises to seek strategic partnerships with technology partners who have the expertise and resources to ensure the successful modernization of their applications.
For more information about how an expert technology partner can help drive your application modernization initiative, contact us.