Modernization: The analysts’ view

The Driving Forces of Modernization

Recent analyst papers suggest that, aside from the factors addressed above, the need for organizational digital transformation is driven by competition, end user demands, new technologies, and the Cloud. The IDC white paper Modernization: A Flexible Approach to Digital Transformation states that “Digital transformation …. meant to help companies maneuver a constantly-evolving and challenging competitive landscape.”

IDC also suggests transformation is not an optional extra, despite the additional technological complexity of working with longer-established technologies. “Companies with so-called “legacy” business models and IT systems are especially at risk of disruption from newer “digitally born” start-ups. For such companies, digital transformation is not just a mandate, but also an urgent mandate”

Establishing consistency across the various commentaries on modernization is tricky. There is no single reason for digital transformation it is more nuanced than that. My research suggests that these issues appear most frequently:

– Regulations and security: Businesses must ensure their core data is secure and compliant with new laws protecting consumers from security threats and data protection shortcomings.
– Competition: The Forrester report Exploring The Complexities of Cloud Migration and App Modernization warns of the challenges of the ‘digitally empowered customer’. “Acquiring customers —or losing existing ones —has never been easier…organizations must innovate, optimize, and modernize rapidly to remain competitive in their industries.”
– End user demands: Consumers want an easy, immediate, and personalized experience from the system interactions, and will be dissatisfied with outdated, cumbersome platforms.
– New technologies: Organizations who understand this transformational need will adopt new applications while leveraging current systems. This balance is at the heart of digital transformation and modernization.
– The move to the cloud: Cloud technologies can deliver innovation, optimization, and modernization. The Forrester report, Exploring the Complexities of Cloud Migration and App Modernization states, “Over the past few years, organizations have been heavily utilizing cloud as a transfer target to optimize their application sourcing and as a platform for app modernization. This process … requires a different approach or strategy.” And IDC addresses the conundrum of the deeply integrated, business-critical applications that may be too costly and potentially risky to rewrite. “The key to digital transformation is integrating the platforms these applications are running on with contemporary platforms to ensure maximum yield with application delivery.”

These forces must be addressed and, as Gartner advises in Use Continuous Modernization to Build Digital Platforms from Legacy Applications, “Digital business transformation is … a continuous process that explores and improves new business models [and] exploits new technology.” Modernizing organizations must continue to improve and adopt solutions. Back to Forrester; “Digital has left organizations with an ultimatum: Keep up or get left in the dust. Businesses [must] respond to market conditions, function like a well-integrated machine, and … encompass all parts of the organization.”

Key Challenges

A major implementation challenge is ensuring every application is of sufficient quality to meet end user needs. Couple that with the need to ensure applications meet business requirements and budgetary constraints are met when modernizing means IT organizations are increasingly turning to DevOps and Agile.

The IDC whitepaper Modernization: A Flexible Approach to Digital Transformation advises that “about 60% of businesses today have a repeatable, managed, or optimized DevOps culture in place …. in other words, 40% of businesses are at risk of becoming severely disadvantaged by their lack of a DevOps and Agile culture.”

Most organizations that adopt modernization find that the time and impact of “rip-and-replace” is not worth the potential benefits. And too much change at once is costly and disruptive. Gartner believes the better solution is ‘continuous application modernization’. From their report Use Continuous Modernization to Build Digital Platforms from Legacy Applications; “[it] is a gradual approach that focuses on providing digital business support and value in a timely manner. In other words: continuous delivery requires continuous modernization”.

In this report, Forrester advise that “Rather than starting from scratch, technology leaders seek strategic change. [Selecting] which systems can and should be reused/repurposed, versus where to invest in the most impactful changes [enables] IT leaders to focus on [what will] most benefit their digitally-savvy customers.” It also noted how the disruption and cost of moving core business systems to public cloud platforms, meant that 41% of respondents were keeping them on-premises. Forrester again; “Yet, many enterprises look to integrate complex systems (41%), like moving mainframes to newer cloud environments rather than replacing some (25%), most (27%), or all of their mainframe usage (4%).”

Does Application Modernization Work?

Tackling Challenges

With as many challenges as drivers for change it is little wonder the utopian, singular modernization solution exists only as an abstract concept. In reality any modernization solution must exist in the plural, and offer enough technical and operational flexibility to tackle an equally broad range of challenges.

The Micro Focus view is that successful modernization depends on first assessing what, how and where IT modernization will manifest itself. This assessment must consider the three elements, namely ‘what’, the application itself, how – the process for delivering it – and where, namely the platform, location and user experience. Our value profile service is a robust first step.

In my next blog I will look at these elements in more depth, in the context of recent analyst findings. If you’d like to discuss the contents of this blog in the meantime find me here on Twitter.


Director of Product Marketing

Micro Focus

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