Legacy-IT causes a lot of gray hair and headaches among IT professionals – and at management level in general. In NNIT's Expectations Barometer, which in 2019 focuses on Digital at Scale, more than 36% of respondents highlight legacy as one of the major challenges in relation to the scaling of digital initiatives.
The cloud is a digital laboratory
Instead, many people are looking to the cloud – in fact, as many as 79% in the Expectation Barometer. This high level of interest in the cloud has its roots in one of the biggest strengths of cloud solutions: the almost unlimited opportunities for digital scaling.
– Agility has increasingly become a competitive parameter, and transformation from legacy-IT to cloud is seen as the way forward. And this definitely an accurate interpretation, stresses Brian Troelsen, Business Development Director at NNIT.
He especially emphasizes that cloud solutions contain completely different opportunities for agility and scaling because organizations do not have to build everything from scratch. Instead they can buy into an accessible activity – often via pay per use – where they only pay for the actual services and the capacity used.
– In the cloud, it is far easier to develop and test ideas because it is easy to adjust or shut down the projects that are failing. An idea can be promising and well thought-out, but if the market does not take to it, it is not worth the investment in the long run, explains Brian Troelsen and continues:
– That's why we typically talk about "think big - start small", which basically involves getting to grips with the best and most ambitious ideas for new business opportunities – but plugging them in and testing them on scalable platforms before large resources are thrown into the project. Sometimes it's not the best idea that wins over the market, but the one that comes out first, explains Brian Troelsen.
From legacy to hybrid
In many organizations, legacy IT is often viewed as a polar opposite to agility and cloud goals. In the Expectation Barometer survey, 30% of the respondents say that the need for major financial investments in connection with letting go of a legacy system is a barrier to digital scaling. But a great deal can often be achieved with less.
Brian Troelsen believes that you need to accept that legacy systems are not always easy to do away with. Instead, organizations should focus on how to best build a method that embraces both legacy and cloud. He points to the hybrid solution:
– The reality is that most companies are based on a legacy system – both culturally and in their IT set-up – and it is important to recognize that not all platforms are suitable for the cloud. There may be technological considerations as well as compliance arguments for keeping data on-premise. In such cases, it is not a matter of legacy or cloud, but rather about using cloud to make key parts of your legacy-IT agile, he explains.
A good hybrid example can be seen in banks, which typically have old systems containing enormous amounts of data. These systems cannot just be abandoned. However, it is possible to use an overlay application on top of the old legacy-IT and filter the good data up into the cloud where it can be utilized agilely.
Combine your data threads with an integration motor
However, to guarantee scaling takes more than just the right choice of cloud, on-premise or hybrid. Data volumes are often enormous, and more than a quarter of respondents in NNIT's Expectation Barometer see a concrete scaling barrier in the lack of data and/or data structure that can support business insights.
Because there is a high degree of data complexity in many organizations, it makes sense to consider an integration platform such as Mulesoft, DellBoomi or SAP PI/PO. With an integration platform you can ensure that all your data is converted into the same format and can be used in all business interactions:
– The number of applications within organizations is clearly increasing – and no matter whether you work on-premise, cloud-based or hybrid, you need to be able to integrate your applications. Nobody has their data in one single location, and this underlines the need for a strong management tool that can orchestrate all your integrations from a central location, explains Brian Troelsen.
At the same time, there is a need for the right skills to handle the motor.
From tools to competencies
And here the barometer reveals an Achilles heel. For even though many respondents actually have good tools available, 60% point out that their employees do not have the competencies to independently make use of the opportunities in the toolbox.
– It is, of course, a great pity that many companies see human factors as a stumbling block for digital scaling. This clearly indicates the need for skills development. Don’t forget to keep upgrading the competencies of your staff, stresses Brian Troelsen.
Such challenges in the area of skills call for a healthy and qualified assessment before choosing new tools.
– Even if you fall in love with a tool, there is no guarantee that your organization has the skills to make full use of it. This is why you should always make sure that you not only focus on the features of the tool, but on delivering and continuously supporting those features, says Brian Troelsen.
Here, it may be relevant to seek advice from external consultants, who can not only shed light on your organization's competencies and set-up, but also help to select the exact tools to match your organization. This can potentially strengthen and optimize both your digitalization and scaling efforts.
This year’s Expectation Barometer takes a detailed look at the opportunities and readiness of Danish and international companies to scale their digital initiatives. What are the differences – and where? And what does it require, strategically, technologically and organizationally, to scale digital efforts? We call this Digital at Scale.
Try the Expectation Barometer and find out where your business is in the area of digital scaling – and get a personalized Benchmark Map. You also get access to a series of articles on a number of leading CIOs and can read about their digital scaling experiences and challenges.
Try the Expectation Barometer here