As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, businesses must constantly update and improve their software systems to stay competitive. However, the process of updating and releasing new software can be difficult and time-consuming, especially if the existing software is bloated, monolithic, and tightly coupled with other components.
This lag creates technical debt that can slow down operations and put a company at a disadvantage compared to its competitors. Southwest Airlines is a notable example; the company was cited for losing $800 million due to aging IT infrastructure during its headline-grabbing December 2022 meltdown.
Avoid Lagging Behind
Technology has reached a point where the ability of AI to make connections has sky-rocketed, which is what we’re seeing now with ChatGPT. AI can absorb incredible amounts of information that any single human couldn’t hope to process or retain. In just a few seconds, it can recall and apply that knowledge.
Technology is changing rapidly from a usability standpoint, making it critical to keep up-to-date to avoid lagging behind.
One solution to this problem is application modernization—but what does application modernization mean? In the simplest of terms, application modernization is the practice of transforming old, existing applications and technology stacks into leaner components that are easier to update and deploy.
Why Modernize Applications?
The benefits of application modernization are numerous, but let’s focus on the main four.
1. Modernization to recapture knowledge
Modernization lets organizations capture (or recapture, rather) knowledge about the application, including its value to the company and its role in its portfolio.
2. Modernization to revisit process definitions
Modernization provides an opportunity to revisit business process definitions and identify areas where introducing efficiencies through process, integration, and automation can lead to cost savings and improved operations.
3. Modernization to leverage lower-cost architectures and tech skills
Modernization enables companies to leverage lower-cost architectures and ensure that the tech skills required to support the application remain a commodity.
4. Modernization to advance technology and employ generative AI and GPT solutions
By enhancing the application with advanced technology like AI, automation, and machine learning, companies can increase their value and stay ahead of the competition. Employing generative AI solutions, like ChatGPT, is just the beginning.
The Process of Modernizing Applications
When it comes to reaping the benefits of application modernization, it’s important to be clear about strategies and objectives and to define principles to guide decision-making. Gaining buy-in from stakeholders by articulating a complete view of the value proposition is crucial. For large initiatives, a target technology stack should also be defined, along with a governance structure, to ensure that it can be updated, changed, and improved.
It’s also essential to prioritize modernization opportunities based on business impact and value and to roadmap implementations and executions to promote a culture of continuous improvement.
Organizations can benefit from employing cross-skilled teams with experience in implementing modern applications, creative design, and the most up-to-date technological advancements.
Prioritizing the Different Pieces
Other important parts of the modernization process include identifying stakeholders or SMEs, determining the value of your current apps, and recognizing the functionality that needs to be preserved. Areas for application improvement can be identified across different viewpoints, such as process, data, integration, user experience, security, and infrastructure.
These requirements can then be populated into a backlog and prioritized based on ROI, risk assessment, and Minimum Viable Product. Once the enterprise target architecture is finalized, it can be employed, gaps can be identified, and architecture work or product development can be commissioned.
Challenges to Application Modernization
Ultimately, the best approach to application modernization will depend on the unique needs and circumstances of each organization. By taking the time to understand the problem, situation, and goals, companies can find the right path forward in modernizing their applications.
Making changes in an organization is often a challenging process; there are always roadblocks and other issues that arise along the way. One impediment that a lot of businesses face is resource availability.
Many companies struggle with finding and keeping the resources they need to maintain their existing systems while implementing change.
Another is losing key application knowledge and technical documentation when employees retire or leave the company, making modernization efforts more difficult.
Even More Challenges
Uncertainty about the scope of modernization is another challenge. Technology is ever-changing, which can create situations where organizations don’t know what they don’t know, leading to “paralysis analysis” and fear of making a bad choice. A lack of a digital strategy or effective way to score or prioritize opportunities can also hinder progress.
Another challenge is the lack of solution accelerators and frameworks. Rewriting a legacy app from scratch can also be an expensive proposition, and an organization may not have the necessary budget for that.
The Sooner, The Better
Despite these challenges, organizations can successfully navigate the path to application modernization with the correct approach. Implementing the right strategies makes it possible to modernize applications in a cost-effective and timely manner while still maintaining the value and integrity of the existing system.
Don’t ask yourself what it would cost to implement new tech; ask yourself what it would cost to miss the opportunity entirely. With fascinating and impactful new tech emerging every day, you can’t afford to wait.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Christopher Gower; Unsplash; Thank you!