How does ‘David Moyes Syndrome’ relate to ‘legacy’ IT systems?

Put simply, David Moyes Syndrome is my attempt to put a name to the almost pathological urge that affects so many Premier league football clubs in a state of transition, namely the temptation to hit the panic button rather than take a more measured, strategic approach. The comparison stacks up, so bear with me…

Because clearly, Manchester United Football Club are a big business and it has been remarked that they are acting like any other organization with a strategic issue – although most companies rarely have to worry about losing to Olympiakos. (But then neither do many football clubs, for that matter.)

Initially, at least, the company are seeing immediate benefits for acting boldly. The club is a corporation where fans and shareholders alike demand sustained success. When that doesn’t happen quickly enough – and market share becomes eroded by rivals – they tend to act swiftly.

The same is true of banks and other companies with large IT estates. When their systems are perceived as lagging behind the competition, analysts and investors start asking some pretty fundamental questions. The crux is this: whether to scrap what is there and start again in the hope that the instant win keeps delivering, or choose a less traumatic, more strategic path.

For clubs like Manchester United, the landscape has been skewed by the arrival of unforeseen elements that could happen in any vertical. The wealthy backers of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City  and Liverpool are raising the stakes and Manchester United feel compelled to respond. Where is their red-hot striker? Their resolute defence? More importantly, it seems, is their trophy magnet of a manager?

Likewise, to stretch the analogy, the presence of game-changing elements in the IT space is forcing businesses with older, more established applications and legacy systems to react to PayPal, eBay, Facebook, and Amazon. Customers are demanding a life online. They want to be mobile with constant connections to everything, everywhere – and that’s the context in which every company must now operate.

The arrival of a marketplace-distorting factor could happen anywhere, forcing the organization to raise their game in order to stay competitive. Indeed, some bank customers already use Facebook to make payments. So what can organizations do to avoid David Moyes Syndrome? Let’s look at the two options under consideration at United – revamp, or rebuild.

Rebuild

In footballing parlance, this is all about a new manager making sweeping changes to his playing staff. Out go X, Y and Z and here come 1, 2 and 3. A massive rip and replace IT project of this nature will arrive pre-loaded with large amounts of risk. It might work. It may not. You won’t know until it’s too late to do anything about it. Taxi for Mr Moyes.

Revamp

But just like Manchester United, any organisation will have unique assets they risk losing by taking such a drastic step. Your company’s heritage is tied up in these systems. Lose them, and you risk some of your identity too. Your intellectual property is at risk. Isn’t it much better to make more of what you have? Adapt how you deploy your assets and introduce a couple of game-changers instead?

There are certain precautions available to mitigate some of this risk, at least. Just as the new United manager is likely to do, analysing what you have is as important as understanding the complexities you will need to overcome with these resources. So build your requirements from there and ensure everyone involved in the business has complete visibility of them. Get it right and you reduce the time to market significantly, perhaps gaining a march on the competition.

Micro Focus: game-changing software

Micro Focus understands the problem of making big moves in a risk-averse world. To us, modernization beats destabilization. The Micro Focus Enterprise product set tackles the application innovation modernization needs of IBM mainframe development and delivery teams. Our enterprise application knowledge, development, test and workload deployment tools significantly improve the efficiency of business application delivery, enabling IT leaders to transform their zEnterprise environment.

One way or another we’re all in a results business, so if you’re looking to stay in the race for the title, remember that before you succumb to David Moyes Syndrome, there are alternatives. Micro Focus development tools enable you to get more from your squad and deliver better results faster, without messing with the heritage of your organization. They also cost a lot less than paying off your ex-manager.

MUFC

 

Making waves – the new Fed VP introduces himself

I’m penning this blog to introduce myself as the new Senior Vice President for Micro Focus’ Federal Business UnitWhat’s my pedigree? Work with NetIQ, which is now part of the Attachmate Corporation, BMC Software and NASA. My background? I’m a retired member of the US Navy Reserve with more than 20 years of combined active duty and reserve service. And now I have the fresh challenge of leading a new team.

How does this help you? My life and work experiences have given me a perspective on problem-solving that few others have. I understand how the right technology, used correctly can resolve most problems. I also know good solutions when I see them and this role puts me in touch with plenty.

Solutions to issues

For nearly 40 years, COBOL has supported modern architectures and operating systems. Now, Micro Focus Visual COBOL customers are building Cloud services, mobile applications, or deploying into .NET or JVM. Our customers can choose where they deploy their core applications, both now and for many years to come.

Want your legacy applications to embrace modern architectures? Better performance at reduced cost and risk? Start by analyzing your application portfolio and use that insight to develop, test, and modernize mission-critical applications.

Better testing

Need to deliver better software, or web applications that work on everything, everywhere? Then we should talk about Borland’s Silk Portfolio.

As the ‘head of Fed’, I hear a lot about modernization and cost-cutting. Micro Focus modernization tools have already saved one Federal agency $11m a year and the US Postal Service are $6m a year better off. I’d be happy to walk you through some great case studies and testimonials.

It’s this communication that will help to ensure our solutions align with your mission and vision. It is only by understanding your business pain can we help to resolve it.

I look forward to meeting you and learning more about how your team leverages Micro Focus technology. In the meantime, I encourage you to follow us @MicroFocus and join us in our online community forum.

Thanks for reading. It’s great to be here.

David Vano
SVP, Federal

18de367

 

Making the CIO a hero again

superCIOladySpare a thought for the CIO. Maybe that means you. There was a time when who the CIO was, and what they did, was clear. He or she was the person who used ‘IT alchemy’ to create business benefits from technology. They were tech people with business brains. Visionaries, futurists and fixers, the CIO was the IT presence in the boardroom. But that was then.

The dawning of the new era of IT – and all the innovation that comes with it – has changed the way people view the role. Now the CIO must harness the power these new advances theoretically bring while still delivering benefits to the business and managing the expectations of those who expect a magic wand, rather than a strategy.

The CIO must be a problem solver, with strategic and operational skills, expert in business-centred thinking with expertise in complex investment programs. In short, everyone expects CIOs to reinvent themselves to deliver the much-needed and widely anticipated value that the digital era is supposed to represent. And now, there is a new challenge that was perhaps harder to anticipate.

From heroes to…?

As recently as last year CIOs were being encouraged to escape the techie trap and become ‘business heroes’. CIOs failing to master this transformation were effectively resigning themselves to tactical, technical firefighting rather than retaining their status as a strategic board level player.

For CIOs, cementing hero status depends on becoming indispensible. After all, who else can evaluate, source and set up new technologies and systems while continuing  to deliver value from what is already there? Who is responsible for ensuring the current infrastructures integrate with the modern tooling – and all of this with fewer budget dollars and resources? And then there’s the new element – the Kryptonite that could threaten the survival of the IT superhero…

Say hello to the CDO

The  arrival of a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) in an organization could be problematic for the CIO. For here is a person whose job description overlaps with the CIO on many fronts. They will have a budget, and a clear strategy about how to take their organization into the digital age. So who gets to say what that future will look like? Clearly the beleaguered CIO faces challenges on all fronts – summarised here as 4 Ds:

1. Digitalization
Mobile, BYOD, big data, and the ever increasing demands of the end user are now must-haves. To quote one example, the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) claim that mobile phone banking transactions have doubled in a year. With customers using their devices to carry out 5.7 million transactions per day, the pressure is on to deliver a flawless – and fast – service.

2. Data
The proliferation of technical tooling for sales, marketing and corporate outreach has driven vast quantities of data – the lifeblood of companies chasing the revenue growth that underpins every strategy.  McKinsey estimates that most US companies of more than 1000 employees in the US economy were storing at least 200 terabytes of digital information. It’s not called ‘big’ data for nothing. To get the most from this massive resource, organizations must interrogate it for the key take-outs that will deliver the business advantage. While most of the data is held on mainframes, much of the newer material, ie that relating to social media behaviors, will be stored on more disparate platforms. Someone must co-ordinate this storage and deliver the business value.

3. Dissatisfaction
As company budgets become more focused on revenue-producing areas, rather than IT operations and infrastructure, the internal dynamic for IT will change. Marketing automation systems, enhanced Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and Content Management Systems (CMS) will enjoy greater prominence. Their data must be accessible and usable to stakeholders, executives and incumbent systems. The gap between the end-user expectation and the ability to provide the required solution grows as – with each passing year – users grow ever more demanding, and vocal, in terms of timeframes and functionality.

4. Debt
Budgets and resources don’t always keep up with complexity. Equally, backlogs can increase in parallel with what Gartner call ‘IT debt’. There are many reasons for the staggering 29% increase IT debt: Poor investment, ill-advised prioritization, tooling, process, skills, architectural complexity, IT strategy are all in the mix. There is also the unfortunate perception that the platform, rather than the access mechanism, is a problem and that innovation can only be delivered by brand new technology, rather than by improving or augmenting current, business-critical applications with the right solution or products.

If a CIO finds themselves in an unwanted cycle of tackling ‘maintenance’ tasks and fire-fighting, their  first instinct, when faced with a fresh technology and/or business paradigm shift appears to be to schedule a ‘future overhaul/rewrite’ of technological assets. But rewriting or re-engineering working systems costs time, money and is fraught with risk. Just ask the UK NHS . A pragmatic, low-risk approach that resolves a chunk of these challenges in ‘one hit’ is needed here. A deeper understanding of the scope of the problem, coupled with a pragmatic approach to fixing processes, without jeopardizing existing services or adding to the backlog, is a great way of identifying that approach. So – what is the solution?

We can help

Finding smarter, innovative ways of implementing and delivering IT modernization, is part of our DNA. Micro Focus enables CIOs – and CDOs, for that matter – to keep up with the pace of technology and change, while maximizing the value of their core IT assets. Digitizing current frameworks brings innovation, enabling established technology to work efficiently with new. The key phrase here is modernization. It’s where what works – and most right-thinking IT managers would be loath to touch – is re-invented to deliver what the business needs today. Enterprise application modernization ensures the lights stay on today while organizations plan their tomorrows.

It’s what turns aging infrastructures into innovation-ready IT – and CIOs into heroes. If you’re ready to get more of what you need from what you already have, pay us a visit.

 

kishore

 

 

Kishore Devarakonda

Micro Focus VP of Strategic Projects

 

Bring the Force to development efficiency

So are you a Star Wars or an Empire Strikes Back person? It’s not a new discussion and there are no answers. (Except that Star Wars is way better than Empire, right?)

Well, it depends on your perspective. It’s like Net Express against Server Express. They’re both great tools. Some people are NX fans, some are SX fans. Star Wars vs Empire. But supposing there was something better than both of them. The full-on, special edition, gold-embossed trilogy box set?

Sure, these films have a longevity that their contemporaries lack. Just like COBOL, they are still popular and in widespread use. But charm, schmarm. The world has moved on since 1977 and 1980. We live in a world of Blu-Ray, HD and surround sound. Likewise Net Express and Server Express are great tools but cannot meet today’s challenges. And efficiency is a problem for COBOL developers. So here’s a solution.

Visual COBOL – see the difference

Put simply, Visual COBOL is a better environment for COBOL development than either Net Express or Server Express. It delivers the industry-standard tooling, for today’s developer, bridging the old with the new. It gives the traditional COBOL developer a new capability for innovation. It’s like remastering and digitally-enhancing a George Lucas original. We’ll be running a little premiere of our own – a behind-the-scenes special on Visual COBOL at work in a dedicated blog very soon.

The Force is strong in this one

What’s behind this stunning advancement? The development ‘difference’ is the tooling – Visual COBOL’s integration with Visual Studio or Eclipse. Bringing industry standard tools to create a feature-rich environment enables the dev team to edit, compile, debug, and test their code. Quality improves, output grows while establishing consistency across the dev team. It’s a better experience for all.

Need proof? Try Visual COBOL for yourself, or see it expressed through the medium of Star Wars-themed modern dance. Yes, really

VCJedi.

 

 

 

Every blog has its day

… or why we’re moving away from whitepapers

Imagine this. You have spent many thousands of dollars developing a software product or solution that resolves pain points for a rich portfolio of potential customers. They need this product. Your messaging is finely honed to address different audiences. Now comes the tricky part – what’s the best medium for delivering those messages?

Our industry is about 50 years old and is growing at a faster pace than ever. And in that time our mechanism for demonstrating market relevance is invariably a lengthy, brow-furrowing analysis. Improving end user efficiency? Whitepaper. Bringing flexibility to agile development? Whitepaper.  But how can time-poor CIOs and IT Leaders spend hours reading a 12 page document telling them that they are, er, time-poor?

blogblogsmallAnd so on and so forth…

Sometimes, whitepapers are the best option for fully exploring a theme or idea. Micro Focus offers plenty of whitepapers, as do Borland. They are important for building credibility, and demonstrating the full understanding of a problem needed to convince the market – and our customers – that we have the solutions. But no-one ever wrote a cheque on the back of a whitepaper. At best, they may prompt a phone call, or a download. So what else is there? Tweets are too ephemeral, magazine articles are more approachable than whitepapers but opportunities are rare. Infographics have little substance. But there’s a better way.

Show me the money

Our blog is the go-to medium for complex ideas, simply expressed. It’s a quick-turnover platform so there is always some fresh content. Whether it’s part of a series or a here today, gone tomorrow one-off, the Micro Focus and Borland blogs are increasingly becoming the mouthpiece of both companies. And because we address many different audiences we need different voices – and the blog enables that flexibility. Whether it’s Derek Britton talking to mainframe owners, Chris Livesey talking to CIOs – or Frank talking to devs – then we have the platform and the messages to engage, inform and surprise you. And not a 12-pager in sight.

See you there.