Modernizing Legacy IT Infrastructure Is The Key To Digital Transformation

Digital processes and recent tech innovations have changed the face of business beyond recognition. The connected society has brought the need for a digital transformation into sharp focus, eliminating the chances of companies opting out of IT modernization if they wish to remain competitive. Digital disruption is no longer just an overused buzzword, it is part and parcel of the business landscape.

A recent IDC report said that global spending on digital transformation technologies is expected to be nearly $1.3 trillion in 2018, a year-over-year increase of 16 percent. According to IDC's Worldwide Semiannual Digital Transformation Spending Guide, the level of spend will hit $2.1 trillion by 2021, with the majority of investment directed at technologies that make companies more efficient and responsive.

Connected Society Requires Digital Investments 

Nearly all industries are investing in digital solutions, the authors of the IDC report said. Companies are focused on both the core technologies that enhance their business—cloud, big data and analytics, mobility, for instance—and what IDC refers to as "Innovation Accelerators." These accelerators include but are not limited to the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and robotics, all of which are playing a significant role in digital transformation.

Woman with headset looking off in distance.
Nearly all industries are investing in digital solutions.

And while the investment strategies may vary from company to company, the individual objective remains the same; a reconstruction and reassessment of how that business competes in a digital economy that is increasingly part of a platform-powered ecosystem.

IDC predicts that the majority of investment in the next 12 months will come from manufacturing (both discrete and process), professional services and transportation. All of these industries will spend the most on operating model transformation, followed by information transformation and omni-experience innovations that will leverage how people—employees, customers and business partners—communicate with each other.

With that in mind, the categories that will see the most spending will be connectivity services, IT services, enterprise hardware and the applications that underpin the foundations of the connected society. IDC said that connectivity will be central to the success of an internal digital transformation, even more so if that company has not updated its legacy applications to deal with an increasingly mobile workforce and customer base.

"Digital transformation is gathering pace," said IDC senior research analyst Jan Alexa, in a press release. "The competitive pressures from early adopters are starting to force others to begin transformational efforts, no matter where they are based geographically."

At the same time, companies need to understand that a successful strategy doesn't just rip out and replace the existing or underlying systems. Digital transformation requires companies to modernize applications and services so they still connect with legacy protocols and systems of record. In other words, a company should always be aware that IT modernization will incorporate the standardization and integration of legacy systems.

Transformation Requires Change Agents

The key to a successful digital transformation comes in defining what that transformation actually means. Forbes reported that a recent panel session at the 2017 Enterprise Transformation Summit in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL., said that companies should be taking two approaches to their modernization efforts. The first is to focus on how technology can be integrated to drive gains in productivity. The second is to understand how to build a modern enterprise for modern employees.

"Successful transformation requires change agents and evangelists at all levels of the organization," wrote Forbes contributor Maribel Lopez, founder of Lopez Research. "However, DX efforts won't gain traction until the executive team commits to new projects, increasing the firm's risk tolerance and ensuring there's appropriate funding for transformation projects."

The ubiquitous computer in the pocket is an excellent example of the potential for modernization in an enterprise environment. Irrespective of what flavor of mobile operating system you prefer, the fact is that most people have a smartphone or something similar. And the majority of people will not only have their smartphone within reach at all times but also will likely expect to have the same level of digital interaction or experiences in the workplace as they do in their personal lives.

"46 percent of American adults use a voice-based application."

In many ways, the smartphone has become the symbol of the connected society but its underlying technology is rarely static. Instead, smartphone owners are constantly being wooed with new technologies and applications, from augmented reality to biometric scans and embedded payment options. That means that companies need to appreciate that the move toward digital transformation is not really a voluntary option, even more so when you consider just how fast technology moves.

Take the increased awareness of voice-user interfaces, for example. Seven years ago, we had Apple's misfiring Siri and not much else.

Fast forward to today and voice-controlled assistants are incorporated into a plethora of consumer products, with an expectation that voice will become more prevalent in the workplace. A recent report by Pew Research said that 46 percent of American adults already use a voice-based application to interact with their phones and other devices, with 55% percent of those people citing the option to engage without using their hands as a major factor. In fact, there is a consensus that consumer use of VUIs will only increase as the artificial intelligence that sits behind the interface becomes more contextual and intuitive.

IT Modernization Is The Logical Step

That is not to say that digital transformation via legacy application modernization will rely on people talking out loud. Voice-user interfaces are still a relatively nascent and disruptive form of technology, and should be treated as such by business leaders and IT decision makers. The underlying concept is that a well-articulated digital transformation strategy has to take into account a number of moving parts from day one.

Ultimately, the pace of technology is not going to slow down any time soon. What is important is that companies should not adopt a wait-and-see approach to business processes that rely on a healthy bottom line. Digital transformation may seem like marketing jargon for the unwary but it is real and it has the potential to be spectacular.

The Inventu team is here to help with your transformation. Our Flynet Viewer, for instance, simplifies screen integration and makes the modernization process easier for both employer and staff expectations. For more information as to how Inventu can bring your legacy IT applications up to speed, visit our product page. Alternatively, reach out to our consultants and request a free trial.