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Innovation and modernization are inextricably linked

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I’ve had a lot of conversations with the CIO about modernization over the years. What is clear throughout is that modernization cannot be the ultimate goal of a project or initiative. Instead, everything IT does should always be accompanied by business outcomes. But what if an organization lacks process and technological maturity and needs to be modernized for innovation? This was a question I recently asked the CIO.

Does an organization need to be modernized before it can innovate?

The consensus was that it generally needed to be modernized before it could innovate. “I haven’t seen a place that doesn’t need modernization yet. We need tools and culture to drive innovation, but to be clear, modernization is a journey, not a destination,” said CIO Deb Gildersleeve. Mr. says. CIO Martin Davis agreed. It’s a fairly common, outdated app, has a lot of technical debt, and modernization can improve efficiency, which can lead to innovation opportunities, he says.

However, for CIOs Carrie Shumaker and David Seidl, both must occur at the same time. According to Shumaker, you can’t do everything, but you need to innovate. For this reason, it helps to select one of the main areas of focus for modernization and innovation. Seidl agreed: you often have to do both at the same time and it is very difficult to separate them. Modernization can also look like innovation in many situations.

Modernization and innovation are inextricably linked and can be lost in strategic planning. “I don’t think too many CIOs are catching up and implementing modernization strategies, which slows innovation as networks, platforms, architectures, staffing and procurement need to be modernized. “I’m sorry,” said former CIO Tim McBreen. Going one step further, Hurvitz & Associates analyst Dan Kirsch said, “The goal is not modernization, migration to the cloud, or migration to microservices. These are just ways to support innovation. Continuous delivery. And the goal is to release new features. It will make our customers happy. “

Related article: How CIOs Create Demand for Engagement Innovation

Typical problems faced by organizations when modernizing for innovation

When an organization faces the need to modernize for innovation, it faces the following common problems:

Technical debt. Outdated systems and applications. Tissue inertia. Resource contention. Lack of sponsorship and support. Point solution and reusability and agility. There is no consistent procurement strategy. Inefficient processes and manual workarounds. Lack of automated or repeatable processes. investment. Weak control and process.

Gildersleeve shared her view on the main causes. Older systems that are used inconsistently and sporadically throughout the organization, and overall, lack of staff and rigor for the projects that IT undertakes. There is a reason why there is an IT backlog throughout the industry. Without a doubt, people and processes are always more difficult than technology itself. For this reason, Kirsch suggested that it is difficult to overcome skills, cultures and processes when considering modernization and innovation. Technology and tools that can change everything, rather than strengthen what the team is doing, are important. And I’m sure those old systems and apps are well documented and well understood …. all dependencies are fully mapped! In particular, you can’t and shouldn’t replace everyone. Employees who understand the business are important because of the inadequate process being implemented. “

Modernization cannot be an effort. As Shumaker said, “modernization is a never-ending cycle.” “Unfortunately, modernization is happening, but it’s funding new and exciting things, rather than funding the ongoing operations of what was once new and exciting,” said CIO Melissa Woo. It ’s much more interesting. ”

Related Articles: Modernization of Legacy Technology: Big Bang or Fragmentary?

The biggest remaining modernization challenge for mature organizations

Mature organizations face their own unique challenges in the quest for modernization. According to Seidl, mature people often become robust and tend to lose their ability to change over time. You need to build the processes and eventually blow them up. Therefore, the key challenge is to recognize that you need to modernize and do it again. Gildersleeve pointed out that even mature IT organizations always have at least one large system that has never claimed to be upgraded or deprecated. This system is typically distracting because it uses resources in small blocks. “

For this reason, Kirsch said mature IT organizations need to reward those who take risks. The path to creating an agile organization that supports DevOps and continuous delivery doesn’t have the last sign of arrival. According to Davis, it’s probably normal suspects, cloud, DevOps, agile, and digital transformation when it comes to what needs to be considered for change, but conversely, it properly supports the business. And respond swiftly.

Related article: Digital Transformation Room Elephant: Legacy Technology Long Tail

What role can the cloud play in modernization and innovation?

The move to the cloud can be billed as a sure step on the road to modernization. But, as the CIO agreed, it’s not that simple. As Gildersleeve said, “It depends on the situation. Migrating an existing system to the cloud is not really an accelerator. Rebuild the cloud system to take advantage of all available technologies. If you can, yes. ”Davis agreed and suggested another approach. “We don’t recommend a lift-and-shift approach. It’s much better to replace it with a SaaS-type solution that runs the latest version to avoid future technical debt opportunities. You need to use the cloud as an opportunity. A cycle of technical debt that could be a major accelerator in the future.

“Cloud and other service / infrastructure providers have the opportunity to stay as up-to-date as possible. You can start moving to a new world right away without having to do it yourself. Basically, a new world You can put it in the box right away, “says McBreen. .. According to this Seidl, the cloud is possible, but it shouldn’t be the driving force. It will make it easier to adopt tools and services, but organizations still need to do modernization work and people need to change management to get there. “

The final word is, “It’s important for leadership to understand that the cloud is not a panacea. There is no business case to move all workloads and data to the cloud. Don’t be afraid of the cloud. Smart It is considered a competition between CIOs and experienced IT organizations. The biggest challenges when considering cloud migration are:

Cloud security and compliance.Understand the cost of the cloud Decide on a plan (modernize and then move, or move and modernize later) Determine apps and data that make sense for your business and technology in the cloud

That said, “Automation is a big part of enabling modernization to support innovation. Automate boring things so your team can focus on creativity and challenging issues.”

Where are the exposed modernization challenges of working from home?

Working from home for the last 15 months has brought bright areas for improvement across the organization. Seidl said he continues to look at processes based on physical location. Personnel forms and processes, onboarding procedures, and many others. There are many other areas, but the process is important. Davis agrees, stating that it contains older security models, inability to remotely access key apps and data, and connectivity issues, and the list continues.

For McBreen, this is almost everywhere for most businesses. From processes to toolkits, networks, infrastructure, and all applicable support processes, security, and more. Even the people themselves. Gildersleeve added that where the challenges are quickly becoming apparent. Overall, there were some issues with remote access to VPNs, access to files, etc. that weren’t there before. Kirsch emphasized the role played by strong leaders in this area. WFH has changed modernization, but has shown that a good team can adapt.

Is the CIO heading for a challenge?

Many organizations need to modernize for innovation, but smart CIOs are looking for opportunities to include innovation in their modernization efforts. Still, many things are blocking the organization. Opportunities are found in these challenges as CIOs spend time fixing and innovating in areas such as the cloud and telecommuting. The question is how many CIOs can meet this challenge.

According to LeadTail, Myles Suer is the number one major CIO influential person. Myles is Alation’s Director of Solution Marketing and Facilitator of #CIOChat.

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