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Application modernisation: Maintaining your organisation’s differentiated identity

Too often companies want to revolutionise their cost structures and operating models but are constrained by legacy IT: the limitations of rigid legacy technologies or the cost and risk of replacing or rewriting them. Frustratingly, companies can find their ambitions to grow and transform stymied, placing them at risk to more nimble competitors and new entrants.

Disruptive technology has brought vast changes. Consider cloud computing (opens in new tab) for a moment: Cloud has altered how companies 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. This has altered the IT industry – shifting its business model considerably – as well as the industries using these solutions, making them more agile in addressing business, customer and regulatory requirements.

Technology is evolving at an astonishing rate, both in the consumer world and the enterprise thanks in part to the heightened expectations for an improved user experience. 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.

Twenty years ago, you had technologies at work that weren’t commonplace in everyday life and usually unassociated with personal use. 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. The multiple devises of today, your tablet and smartphones, were 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.

Today, the reverse is true. Consumer technologies have become so inexpensive, so easy to use, and so engrained in our everyday lives that most users expect to experience the same at work. Just consider the implications of the Gartner study that suggested that nearly half of the workforce (opens in new tab) is using personal devices for work. All of this is now driving what we see in the workplace and as a result, expectations are higher than ever before. Applications need to be user-friendly, easy to install and configure. Functionality now has to fully meet user expectations on demand with regular updates to the service. Applications are required to be accessible anytime, anywhere and on any device with full functionality at all times.

Customer expectations and market disruption have changed what it takes to compete: immediacy, innovation, individuality are the key differentiators. Organisations are now in a position where good enough business applications are no longer good enough thanks to the economic crisis, fiercer competition and heightened customer expectations. This is NOT a keep-the-lights-on moment for most organisations.

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, the organisations that win are those that respond with speed, accuracy, and a differentiated solution. Success means companies should prioritise meeting the needs of the market, their customers, and their business partners.

Applications that bring this level of differentiation are often legacy systems that lack flexibility and customisation capability, unfortunately two essential elements for achieving business success. If you fail to recognise this, then expect to be left 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 you’re not offering anything different in your market.

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-design 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.

Companies should let disruptive technology do what it’s meant to do and truly shake up your business for the better.

Eric Stine, Senior VP, Global Portfolio, Ciber (opens in new tab)

Image source: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens