Continuous Modernization the Key to Digital Enablement

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Unless you work for one of the digital native companies that were started in the last decade, chances are your IT architecture is complex and brittle. Planning for and supporting digital initiatives is cumbersome and expensive in such situations. Digital initiatives require a high degree of agility, speed, and flexibility that complex architecture is not able to easily support.

In my experience, architecture complexity typically stems from a lack of architecture planning over a number of years. Legacy systems are not modernized in a timely manner, and new business requirements are met by developing shadow systems to compensate for closed, batch-oriented legacy architecture.

Recently, I’ve seen several examples of companies struggling to support digital initiatives with legacy architecture. A client in manufacturing industry has doubled in size over the last decade thanks to e-commerce and global expansion. The company’s primary IT environment is legacy, so the IT team has developed point solutions and databases that are integrated with legacy systems though a myriad of mechanisms. The team is struggling to implement an omni-channel strategy because there is no single system of record and it is impossible to get trusted, accurate data about customers.

To support digital initiatives, enterprises must streamline and simplify their architecture. But it’s critical that the streamlining be driven by modernization of their core systems rather than focusing solely on customer facing systems. Of course, this type of project can’t be accomplished overnight. Instead, continuous modernization should become a key aspect of every organization’s digital strategy. Here’s how:

Revisit your enterprise architecture plan. If you already have a plan, revisit it to account for new business initiatives. If you don’t have one, develop one. This exercise will help IT  make a compelling business case for modernization by linking the need for modernization to the success of new business initiatives driven by priorities.

Modernize your core systems. Core systems are expensive and complicated to modernize, so they often are left in place, causing the type of complex architecture that cannot support digital business. Today, there are a number of approaches that can be used to modernize these systems, including re-platforming, migrating to SaaS, re-writing, application transformation, and application conversion. These methods can be used alone or in combination based on business and IT needs.

Modernize your application delivery. Modernization initiatives that benefit digital enablement should include automated application delivery. Adopting Agile SDLC and automating supporting infrastructure and processes will shorten release cycles. Continuous integration and delivery reduces the overall time to release software by automating the build, test, deploy, and release processes.

Continuous modernization ensures that your IT architecture is responsive to changing business needs. By incrementally modernizing systems based on business priorities over a period of time, enterprises can lower costs and increase business agility, positioning them well for digital enablement.

Post Date: 1/26/2016

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About the author

Anupam leads the low-code/no-code practice at NTT DATA Services. He has 25+ years of experience working with clients in the areas of IT strategy, enterprise architecture, application modernization and cloud transformation. He has advised cross-industry clients on driving business change through optimization of IT service delivery, transformation of architecture and rationalization and modernization of applications. In his current role, Anupam advises clients in shaping their low-code/no-code strategy and partners with them to scale their enterprise capabilities.