Checklist: Is It Time to Modernize Your Business Apps?

This article is sponsored by LANSA.

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How do you know when it’s time to modernize an application? Rapid advancements in technology, plus the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have drastically affected the role of IT in enterprises today. For many of us, this requires accelerating and restructuring IT strategies to provide rapid solutions to constantly changing business needs.

In its simplest form, modernizing your business applications refers to updating or integrating additional functionalities to keep up with both present and future business needs. But why is application modernization essential?

What is the Importance of Application Modernization?

As you already know, everything has a shelf life; phones, drugs, and most especially business applications and systems. Most businesses that have been around for some time (say, X years) still rely on X-year-old business applications to fill their current business needs. Over the years, these become legacy systems that require modernization as they no longer align with current business goals and objectives. 

However, most businesses attach perceptions to their applications, which inhibit modernization. For example, some hide behind the expensive initial investment made years ago for their existing systems and that they can’t afford additional investments just yet. They have the mistaken belief that the more time they can suck out of technological investment, the greater the value added to its ROI. But this is not remotely the case. With businesses needing to adapt at a faster pace than ever before, the real question here is, “Can you afford not to modernize?”

What we’re seeing with organizations running on legacy business applications is its effect on their business processes and overall growth. This effect may be slow processing. Therefore, you experience long page loads, and application data is not saving correctly. Also, you might find that your overnight backups are failing or not finishing in time for the next day’s workload. You might have application crashes or problems around user or customer feature demands that start exceeding the current application scope. All these are the consequences of legacy applications.

Ultimately if the total cost of ownership is too high, the technology is too complex, or security compliance support or scalability is compromised, then it’s time to start thinking about modernizing your applications. Here are a few signs that you should modernize now.

What are the Warning Signs to Modernize Your Business Apps?

Stifled IT Productivity

Typical legacy applications have warning signs that are pretty subtle and can quickly go unnoticed. One of the most important signs you should modernize your apps is if they’re stifling IT productivity. However, there are more pressing, business-related precursors that are often overlooked. IT’s productivity directly and significantly affects business growth in today’s economy. Therefore, IT goals must align with overall business goals. However, enterprises running on legacy business applications have their IT department waste time and resources establishing lengthy maintenance structures. When specific needs arise, they also waste time finding ways to make up for an application’s shortcomings. 

The Need for Integrated Systems

Businesses today rely on the functionalities of various systems to deliver their products and services. In this case, moving data freely through these systems and streamlining business processes have become even more essential. However, what we see in organizations running on legacy applications is the formation of siloed systems, where departments form empires and hoard data in isolation. This unfortunate phenomenon creates barriers to data sharing and collaboration. 

Today, most, if not all, business processes require integration of some sort, whether it’s with other business applications to share data and collaborate or external tools, such as Slack and Github, using APIs. The big struggle with legacy applications stems from integration challenges, especially with modern tools like AI, IoT, and the cloud. For example, your developers would have to create point-to-point integrations between the applications and systems you’re synchronizing for business process integration. While this can seem like a quick fix when working with a few components, that’s not quite the case. As your business grows, your integration needs will increase, and creating point-to-point connections for various integrations becomes complex and impractical. 

Since integration is already the order of the day, it is time to modernize your business apps. 

Inability to Adapt Quickly to Changing Market Conditions

In the digital economy, the agility to respond quickly to changing market conditions is essential. Businesses are under increasing pressure to accelerate innovation, deliver products and services faster to meet changing business needs. If there are any takeaways from the pandemic, it is that businesses not positioned to adapt to changing market conditions will fail. 

Adapting to changes with legacy applications is similar to entering a tortoise to compete in a dog race. Legacy business systems are monoliths with a large codebase. In which case, updating a single unit may spell conflict for the rest of the system. Therefore, the best practice would be to update the whole, which would demand lots of time and effort, both of which you likely can’t afford in this current economy. Having said that, if you seek to remain competitive in response to changing market conditions and customer needs, you must modernize. 

What Are the Main Drivers of Application Modernization?

There are so many application modernization drivers. But, here are a few of the most common reasons most organizations are modernizing their business apps today: 

Increasing Demand for New Features in a Shorter Time

In today’s business world, speed is the name of the game. However, businesses face increasing pressure to deliver new features and solutions faster and with a limited budget. This driver is a component of digital transformation. Customers and employee experience or UX, as we commonly know it, is becoming more prevalent. Users also expect certain levels of expertise. Therefore, businesses can deliver self-service portals, intuitive solutions, omnichannel experiences, seamless onboarding experiences, etc., to meet user needs. 

Rapid Response to a Changing Business Landscape

Time to market can be critical in providing organizations with a pacesetter advantage. The goal here is to offer more advanced features – for example, advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, or machine learning space – ahead of your competitors. 

Also, it would be best if you were sure your existing applications are serving your emerging and future business needs. The initial step to achieving this is asking yourself, “What impact would industry changes have on my applications?”

A clear example is the pandemic’s impact on organizations adopting digital transformation at an unprecedented rate. 

Key Person Dependency

With so many modern applications and languages, developer talents in some application landscapes continue to dwindle every year. We’re seeing common scenarios where one person, pretty much, holds all the knowledge around critical business applications. The problem with these scenarios is that no one else knows enough to implement any significant changes. 

Ultimately, what you want to do is decrease the risk around this issue. Spread the knowledge that exists with that key person to break the organizational dependency. In these situations, you should remove all the manual effort so your employees can focus on higher-value activities. Most businesses approach this issue by modernizing such applications and empowering employees to build solutions to solve their own business needs. Low code tools, such as Visual LANSA, have proven quite beneficial to many organizations in this situation.  

Enabling New Business Opportunities

Another critical driver for application modernization is enabling new business opportunities. The goal here is to identify how you can drive new revenue streams or reduce costs. Also, consider how you can redeploy some of that budget from simply maintaining existing applications, without adding any real value, to investing in initiatives that drive higher business value. In other words, ask yourself: “What plans exist for my organization?” “How can I align these application strategies to deliver on them?”

Are You Ready to Modernize Your Business Apps?

Modernizing your business apps is a must if you’re to remain competitive in any market. With constantly changing business needs and increasing expectations from customers and employees alike, you can’t afford to lag. Modernization sets you up to respond adequately and rapidly to these changes. Modernizing your business apps can be as simple as remodeling your user interface to integrating with modern solutions or adding functionalities, depending on your business goals and objectives. 

While it may seem like a good idea to rip off your existing infrastructure and place it on another platform, it’s not that straightforward. Migrating to a new platform is capital intensive and risky. A downward spiral of regret often follows for businesses that take this route. Like buyer’s remorse, this phenomenon is so common that even Gartner warns against replacing existing platforms without thoroughly assessing the alternatives. 

Ready to turbocharge your legacy application modernization efforts? Get started with LANSA today!

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