Application modernization: re-designing solutions for disruptive technology

As disruptive technologies change how companies do business in a range of industries, generic commercial-off-the-shelf applications may not offer organisations the speed-to-market or flexibility they need to compete in mission-critical domains. Applications must preserve the organisation’s unique identity, while leveraging new technologies and platforms that offer flexibility, responsiveness, and a modern user experience.

I see it every day: organisations desperate to transform an IT operating model and cost structure that has existed for at least 25 years—a quarter of a century—yet ultimately still spending their time and money doing the same things they’ve always done. Sometimes this can be simply frustrating, but at other times it can create a tremendous amount of business risk.

[easy-tweet tweet=”The business of technology itself has been disrupted by #Cloud” user=”epstine” usehashtags=”no”]

Over the past couple of years, we have seen how businesses have been impacted by disruptive technology, and we have also seen how the business of technology itself has been disrupted. For example, cloud computing is changing how organisations purchase, deliver, and support enterprise systems—moving from upfront acquisition costs with delayed delivery times, to a more immediate model where functionality is delivered on demand and paid for on a monthly basis. The ability to innovate at greater speed is now possible, and the way users experience technology has led to heightened expectations. Not only has this shifted the balance of power from solution providers to their customers—it has changed the business model of technology companies and application providers while forcing them to innovate new products.   

What is amazing is how the revolution in consumer technologies has impacted the enterprise

What is amazing is how the revolution in consumer technologies has impacted the enterprise. Twenty years ago, you had technologies at work that were completely unfamiliar – and often, unavailable – at home. Something considered commonplace today, like email, was almost exclusively confined to the workplace; personal use was just emerging. New operating systems were just beginning to make computing accessible to the casual user. (Shout-out if you remember Windows 95? The excitement of AOL and waiting to her that voice say, “You’ve Got Mail.”)  Having multiple devices – laptop, tablet, smartphone – was virtually nonexistent. Yet access to these technologies and systems in the workplace created a desire and drive for consumer technologies to catch up with enterprise technologies. 

[easy-tweet tweet=”Shout-out if you remember Windows 95 and the excitement of AOL says @epstine” user=”comparethecloud” usehashtags=”no”]

Now the reverse is true. Consumer technologies have become so inexpensive, so easy to use, and so much a part of our everyday lives that most users expect to have the same type of experience at work that they have in their personal lives. Just consider the implications of the Gartner study that suggested that nearly half of the workforce is using personal devices for work.

All of this is now driving what we see in the workplace: There is an expectation that applications will be easy to install, configure, and use; that functionality will meet user expectations nearly on-demand, with updates regularly pushed out to users; that you’ll be able to access applications anytime, anywhere, on any device; and that you’ll be able to experience full functionality at all times. 

The consumer experience has changed what people expect out of technology and how they consume it. Customer expectations and market disruption have changed what it takes to compete: immediacy, innovation, individuality. Organisations are now in a position where good enough business applications are no longer good enough. This is NOT a keep-the-lights-on moment for most organisations.

the organisations that win are those that respond with speed, accuracy, and a differentiated solution

Look, the past ten years have seen a global financial crisis that is still roiling the global economy, a shift in the workforce with respect to where job growth is occurring, and transformative technological change. If we’ve learned anything from the past decade, it is that the organisations that win are those that respond with speed, accuracy, and a differentiated solution – one that meets the needs of their market, their customers, and their business partners.

If you’re dealing with applications that deliver that differentiation, they’re often legacy systems that are rigid; that you can’t modify to react to the way you want to do business today or to the way the market is saying you need to do business today. You’re going to fall behind. If you’re looking at commercial applications, they may offer the user experience or operating model you’re looking for, but they would require time and money to customise them to the point where they deliver the unique processes that set you apart. You’re going to have a significant problem competing, either because you can’t innovate or react, or because you’re doing things the same way everyone else does.

[easy-tweet tweet=”It is no longer acceptable for organisations to be constrained by the limitations of their technology” user=”epstine”]

There is a third way: a path that allows you to maintain your competitive advantage, but frees you from the confines of last-generation solutions. Modernising your application portfolio allows you to deliver cloud-ready, mobile-aware solutions suitable for the needs of a digital economy. Solutions that rapidly re-architect solutions for today’s technologies allow you to meet customer expectations, maintain your differentiated identity, and take advantage of the financial and operational benefits of state-of-the-art solutions.

It is no longer acceptable for organisations to be constrained by the limitations of their technology. It looks like the time has come for a change.

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