- Part one: Setting the scene of COVID-induced digital transformation
- Part two: Keeping people at the heart of digital transformations
- Part three: Instilling a growth-focused digital transformation mindset
- Part four: Building proactive Enterprise IT environments
This series was produced by Mark Teasdale, Mal Stephens, and Michael Howard. Download the full series here or through the form below.
Businesses charting unfamiliar territories
The vast majority of today’s workforce has never faced the extent of strategic and operational disruption caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. For goods and service business models alike, various aspects of organisations’ value chains are dealing with new or unexpected pressures to their production, distribution, and support services.
In Australia and New Zealand’s service-based economies, enterprise IT departments have been tasked with ensuring business continuity. This covers workers retreating from the office to the home, attempting to collaborate and execute via remote access to existing IT applications (where possible), and potentially trialling SaaS tools to supplement the lack of face-to-face interaction, whiteboards and Post-Its. While ADAPT found that 61% of organisations rose to the impact of COVID-19 well and saw their business continuity plans work as intended, others had plans yet were clearly ineffective. However, these times are and will for the foreseeable future continue to be a great test of agility and scalability in IT architecture.
According to a recent Jade survey, a majority of respondents were amazed at how quickly and relatively seamlessly businesses transitioned to working from home.
As the COVID-19 situation has been developing, we have witnessed several vital questions being asked of senior technology leaders:
- Is our organisation’s workforce able to operate reliably and securely?
- Are savings being made on infrastructure where usage is dropping off?
- Are we bolstering IT resources and utilising automation where there is an influx of queries, requests and claims?
- Do we need to shed 3rd party IT products and solutions that are now proving non-performant or redundant to our users?
Four technology and architecture pillars for achieving scale
To address these questions, we have identified four critical areas regarding technology and architecture, which impact your organisation’s ability to scale:
- Modernising existing technology investment
- A transformation journey into the cloud
- Obstacles in achieving modernisation
- IT transformation through agile, modular architecture
Modernising existing technology investment
The longevity of legacy technology will always be scrutinised against the urgent need for reliable, remote access to systems, cost control of underutilised resources and performance of heavily utilised resources. According to tech advisory ADAPT, these needs elevate the importance of another core competency required by Australian executives, which is modernising legacy systems.
Legacy is not always a dirty word. In fact, many legacy systems continue to serve businesses as intended, and the need for change is not simply a function of age. Instead, what often supports a case for change is the opportunity cost of continuing to maintain solutions with a dwindling skill base, limited extensibility, and poor adaptability to remote working needs and user expectation.
A transformation journey into the cloud
Working with stakeholders and partners to determine what resources and workloads can be migrated to the cloud is an inevitable component of modernising legacy. Another key element is ensuring an IT organisation’s architecture has the required longevity to move the needle on cost control, accessibility and scale. Cloud migrations are not just increasing in the Australian and New Zealand marketplace. They are accelerating. In fact, Jim Berry from ADAPT noted that cloud workloads had risen by more than 50% over the last two months. While this may well be a temporary surge, it still points to the need for businesses to be prepared.
In 2019, a survey of over 100 top CIOs in the region found that the current slight majority of in-house, on-premise IT assets is expected to shift by next year so that almost 70% of workloads will operate in either a public, private or hybrid cloud configuration (Berry, 2019). The impact of COVID-19 has already taken workloads many to 50%, so 70% may be more than achievable.
A significant change in perception that is fuelling accelerated adoption of cloud solutions is increased confidence in the security options of cloud providers, with global players like Amazon and Microsoft conforming to independently assessed standards of practice and voluntary frameworks. This attitudinal shift is providing customers with a high level of customisation when considering cloud deployment models.
Obstacles in achieving modernisation
There are still consistent barriers to reviewing or renovating enterprise architecture despite the growing pains that businesses experience as they seek competitiveness amid new working norms. Philipson, Boon and Hind identified that data security and cost/benefit expectations continue to inhibit architectural enhancement, as does the sheer complexity of the undertaking.
However, the fastest-growing concern is vendor lock-in, because enterprise IT organisations need to ensure their architecture is fit for purpose for the foreseeable future. While a vendor exit strategy is always crucial to consider prior to purchasing third-party solutions, it is never too late to begin actively limiting the lock-in effect and taking greater control over the direction of the enterprise architecture.
The ability to manage and influence current material vendors threatens to multiply cost, risk and complexity.
IT transformation through agile, modular architecture
The way forward requires a continued focus on future technologies and systems that are agile in terms of workload management and performance, which aim for modularity where components can be replaced or added with little to no disruption. Applying this thinking to incumbent 3rd party or legacy systems, a strangler pattern that phases decoupling of dependencies is often a manageable approach that gradually builds stakeholder confidence. What’s more, agile, modular architecture sustainably shifts the balance of power back to the business customer to more effectively manage their enterprise IT strategy.
As the case for change builds momentum, it is crucial to look for ways to iteratively articulate and demonstrate tangible value. This will help keep the barrier of legacy mindsets and processes from derailing the realisation of longer-term technology viability.
“Demonstrable operational improvements are a way to break down legacy mindsets that often impact the ability to change” (ADAPT, 2020).
At Jade, we help clients through the various stages of enabling growth and scale, from evaluating the current situation to providing advice and development. This includes assisting in the execution of cloud migration and legacy modernisation initiatives. By working with stakeholders across each business, we demonstrate value plus communicate early and frequently to help with organisational change management needs. We worked closely with Allianz to set them up for future capability by enabling online access for their customers.
Some of the crucial ways we have helped clients achieve scale through technology and architecture include:
- Data model and data maturity reviews
- Solution architecture reviews
- Business architecture reviews
- Provide recommendations on best practice containerisation
- Team augmentation for development and coaching
- Structuring enterprise digital platform frameworks for the standardisation and sharing of IT components and services for re-use across business units
Do you have the right technology and architecture to scale?
As you’re either considering or undertaking your digital transformation, utilising the right technology and architecture cannot just potentially wipe zeros off the end of your digital projects, but doing so can speed up your ability to implement new projects or services.
So, modernise your existing technology investment. Begin or complete a transformation journey into the cloud. Understand the obstacles in your path of achieving modernisation. And undertake IT transformation through agile, modular architecture. Ultimately, technology has come a long way, which means the path from IT debt to IT wealth may actually be much shorter than you realise.
Want to read a copy of the series in its entirety? Download full digital transformation report here or complete the form below. Otherwise, stay tuned for the next installment.