Some studies suggest Digital Transformation (DX) should be well underway if not already complete by 2020. The reality is very different for many. Mike Robinson treks into the jungle of IT change to find the best path forward.
As we turn the corner into a new decade there are plenty who will speculate as to what is ahead for the IT world. Opinions differ, of course, but one thing seems to be clear – change is coming. And fast.
The relentless advance of digital change, a combination of technology advances, evolving customer expectations, process evolutions, and new business models, is forcing executives to rethink their IT strategies. In the end, how IT executives decide to move forward will directly impact differentiation, growth and scale, profitability, customer satisfaction, and speed-to-market.
There are challenges and opportunities, which fall into two buckets: ‘top-line’ mandates are about finding new revenue, while the ‘bottom-line’ equivalents focus on optimizing the Enterprise.
Once, executives had to make trade-offs in determining how to transform – deciding between investments to help the organization Run and Transform, and those that would help Innovate Faster with Less Risk. One side or the other; they couldn’t do both. But the rise of advanced analytics is now blurring those lines and simultaneously bringing both to the forefront.
DX for Danger
While DX – Digital Transformation – is at the top of almost every one of our customers’ list of priorities, success is not a given. There are a number of reasons why these initiatives struggle:
1) Complexity: Today’s organization is full of IT complexity – from infrastructure and databases to applications, to cloud computing, to the mainframes housing decades of IP. This complexity increases as DX layers additional technologies and processes on top of what is already there.
2) Agility: The changes made to increase agility can often decrease it as tried-and-true processes are broken down.
3) Effectiveness: IT and organizational effectiveness can be impacted negatively when decisions aren’t made strategically, or planned far enough ahead.
4) Cost: And finally, change obviously requires investment, but anyone initiating DX without a solid implementation plan can find the downstream and hidden costs of re-work, or the introduction of new risks, financially debilitating.
With so much risk involved, CIOs need to get practical.
Finding the right approach
Successful digital transformation depends on a full understanding of current capabilities and processes, the supporting technology and resources behind them, and a clear view of what the goals and measurable benefits will be. The outcomes are most commonly classified in these 3 areas:
1) Speed: They need to make rapid, informed decisions in context, so they can take advantage of the benefits as quickly as possible.
2) Cost: Cost considerations include both the obvious (e.g., IT and implementations costs) and the downstream (e.g., added costs to manage and administer new systems)
3) Risk: And of course they need to aware of all the risks that can surface when they begin to make changes, including breaking processes, introducing new security threats, and falling out of compliance with internal, jurisdictional and regulatory requirements.
Rip and replace? Not for the risk-averse
Starting over with a rip-and-replace strategy has, historically, been how enterprises support a DX strategy, but it’s also been proven to be hugely risky.
So, recognizing the delicate balance needed to be successful, we’re seeing a new trend start to emerge – smart DX – or an emphasis on modernizing the technology, processes and IP already in place.
That drive towards building on what already works is the Micro Focus brand of Modernization, and we’ve been using it for decades to help our customers transform their businesses in the right way by leveraging trusted systems, processes, and platforms, and evolving what needs to change to support the business in the future.
It is this version of modernization that establishes a platform for DX: taking a business that works a certain way, and transforming, or modernizing it for the future while protecting existing business activities. In other words, building on strength.
When we talk to customers about moving forward in a smart way, we often use the term ‘bridging now and next’ instead of starting from scratch. Doing so enables them to get new value their current investments and resources (e.g. their applications, data and the skills to build them), while leveraging emerging technology and innovations to achieve that optimal balance between speed, risk and cost.
Micro Focus Modernization – the roadmap to transformation
But no two customers are the same; their hybrid IT landscapes will be as different as the challenges they face. But they are united in their desire to avoid risky upheaval in favour of retaining what works and refreshing what needs to change.
Our broad approach to modernization enables customers with long-term investments in business-critical host applications evolve and take advantage of new tools such as IDEs and APIs, and build practices – like DevOps – and reshape where they can be deployed; Linux, AWS, Azure, and Docker are good examples of this.
With so many paths and outcomes, modernization can never be a one-size fits all deal. So neither is our approach. Instead, Micro Focus takes a holistic approach to tackling application modernization, using different facets to tackle specific use cases. This approach has shaped a broad solution that addresses the three pillars of modernization: Application, Process, and Infrastructure.
And our modernization message is largely echoed and endorsed by senior analysts at Gartner, IDC, and Forrester, all of whom have published opinion pieces on the topic recently in support of our modernization philosophy.
Making Modernization Work
Micro Focus have long advocated against destroying valuable technology investments, core applications and data. Instead, we believe in building on them; evolving, improving and enhancing these time-proven assets to support new business need and enable low risk innovation that supports our customers’ DX agenda. Our range of solutions supports a variety of modernization use-cases, backed up by decades of know-how and a practical implementations framework.
Starting completely over with a rip-and-replace strategy used to be the default option, but the unstoppable force of digital change, can meet the immovable object of irreplaceable business IT assets to harness the energy of disruptive technologies to create a digitally-enabled, future-focused enterprise. Find me on Twitter to discuss any aspect of this personally and don’t hesitate to check out these valuable related resources too:
What does Digital Transformation mean to Micro Focus?
Derek Britton Blog: An Application Modernization 101
Ed Airey Blog: Process Modernization: Bringing Agility to the Enterprise
Derek Britton Blog: Hardware, Not Hard Wired