|By Hollis Tibbetts||
|May 11, 2012 09:45 AM EDT||
IT exists to support the business - and in best-of-class IT departments, this truism is embedded deeply into the departmental culture.
Yet in so many cases, this self-evident truth gets lost in the mayhem of building, maintaining and supporting the myriad of complicated and brittle legacy application systems that have been put together over the years to support the enterprise's business.
Legacy Application Modernization is a transformative initiative that has the potential to not only change the way IT supports the business, but to change the very nature and culture of IT.
IT Culture: Legacy Application Burden
It should be no surprise that so many IT cultures have evolved in such a way that the "customer" has become IT itself, rather than the "business users."
Upwards of 3/4 of IT budget goes to managing ongoing operations, according to research firm IDC. These are "inwardly" focused activities that simply keep the systems running. And it leaves only about a quarter of the IT budget available to focus on everything else.
Legacy Application Burden and "the Business"
With only 1/4 of IT budget available for "discretionary spending", it's no wonder that so many IT departments struggle when it comes to strategically, tactically and culturally aligning themselves with the business.
The remaining 25% of budget that remains is hardly sufficient for "the business" - i.e. helping the company innovate, improve and become more competitive in the marketplace. So it should come as no surprise that some 70% of IT executives view the burden of legacy application systems is one of their top problems.
According to Gartner's recent CIO survey, the top priority for CIOs in 2012 is an IT organization that better “enables and supports the business.”
Legacy Applications, Modernization and Innovation
A different way of looking at this: typically only 25% of IT budget is available to help innovate and truly support the business. If "Legacy Applications" could be modernized and the burden of supporting these legacy applications could be reduced by one-third, that would effectively double IT's ability to innovate and drive the enterprise forward.
In reality, this argument dramatically understates the case - by modernizing legacy applications, you not only reduce the cost associated with running and maintaining the legacy applications (thus freeing up money to be better-spent on improving the business), you can re-architect them to become modern and service-oriented. The modernized legacy applications become more componentized, flexible, and part of an agile, extensible modern framework - when they are broken up and re-engineered into "rationalized" re-usable components that can be linked together, integrated with other systems via a modern Integration stack.
The previously monolithic and impenetrable legacy application suddenly - previously an inhibitor of innovation, becomes a key part of innovation...becomes modern.
The issue of legacy applications in need of modernization is the single largest barrier in most large companies to IT truly being able to become an agile, competitive asset to the business.
Legacy Application Modernization brings IT and Business Users closer together.
Legacy Application Modernization is a huge step forward for large IT shops, and truly helps companies tackle that "interpretation gap", and puts business users in the drivers seat. It is a transformative experience for IT, for the culture of IT and for the overall enterprise.
Hollis Tibbetts is a Software Strategy Director for Dell Inc.'s Global Mergers and Acquisitions organization. He writes on a number of software marketing and technology topics, including marketing "best practices", growth strategies, Data, Integration and Legacy Modernization.
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