Gartner VP analyst Stefan Van Der Zijden has mentioned “For many organizations, legacy systems are seen as holding back the business initiatives and business processes that rely on them,”  

When we say legacy application, the first thought that comes to our mind any outdated technology that needs to be replaced or updated. One recent study reveals that more than one-third of all businesses continue using legacy apps that have not changed for over 15 years.  

Legacy systems are not so reliable in keeping up with modern workflow and workloads. Sometimes, those applications also can’t handle the sheer volume and power required for new work processes, which makes them more likely to crash periodically. Companies have to spend enormous amounts of time and resources on keeping legacy apps functional or updating them to meet present needs. At some point, it is incredibly expensive to maintain and continue using these legacy apps.  

Business facing problems from Legacy applications  

The best approach to modernize legacy applications depends on the problems you are trying to solve. The added grunt of the Covid-19 pandemic has made it a necessary process to switch into a newer, more advanced environment to aid operations, IT, and their business in general. Modernization also paves the way for improving efficiency, optimized functions, and reducing costs. The sprawling digital adoption has made the situation more imperative for IT leaders to find effective ways to revive legacy systems. Knowing the risk-to-reward ratio before acting is now one of the main challenges for them.  

Before delving into the ways of solution, let’s have a look at the four main factors that drive the need for modernization. If you check all the boxes below, then it is time for you to modernize your legacy applications—  

  1. Are the market trends moving towards modernization?  
  2. Is the demand for demographics shifting towards newer technologies? 
  3. Do you have growing pressure on legacy systems to keep up with the changing needs of any project?  
  4. Are you facing the inconvenience of use in work from home settings? 

How to make the best approach for application modernization? — This is the thought that comes to your mind when you have already decided to renew your application. Here is the three-step evaluation provides direction in determining the best approach of application modernization depends on the problem that needs to be solved.  

Phase 1: Six drivers for evaluating legacy system  

Application modernization starts with the six main drivers. The legacy application is responsible for creating Complexities, concerns, or impediments results of its technology, architecture, or functionality.  

Business prospection is one of the vital success factors for every business. Business prospection divides into three different categories called — business fit, business value, and agility. If, a legacy software/application can’t meet the new requirements imposed by digital business, then application modernized is the foremost option to fit properly and needs to be upgraded to provide greater business value. Business agility is one of the organizational methods, helps businesses adapt quickly to the first market changes. Sometimes, lack of application agility in keeping pace with the demands of digital business may be a cause of risk liability.  

The remaining three drivers come from the IT perspective, which involves cost, complexity, and risk. Sometimes organizations face a lot of difficulties from the high cost of ownership. If you are dealing with complex technology infrastructure or security compliance – if your support or scalability are being compromised, then it is high time to modernize your legacy application. 

Phase 2: Seven paths to evaluate modernization  

Once the opportunity is selected and the problem identified, look at modernization options. The below options will help you choose the best-suited approach to ease the process and avoid business compliances. The below seven paths will guide your legacy app in modification.  

1. Encapsulate: Leverage and extend the application features by encapsulating its data and functions. The process makes the application available as a service through an API.  

2. Rehost: Without modifying the code, redeploy the application in different infrastructures, including physical, virtual, or cloud infrastructure.  

3. Replatform: Organizations can migrate the application to a new runtime platform by making minimal changes to the code, but not the code structure, features, or functions.  

4. RefactorRestructure and optimize the existing code (although not its external behavior) to remove technical debt and improve nonfunctional attributes.  

5. Rearchitect: Businesses can alter the code materially to shift the application to new application architecture and exploit new and better capabilities.  

6. Rebuild: Redesign or rewrite the application component from scratch while preserving its scope and specifications.  

7. Replace: Eliminate the former application component altogether and replace it. At the same time, consider the new business requirements and specifications.  

Phase 3: Choose the best approach with the highest value and effect  

Now you have multiple options for modernizing your legacy application but, you need to choose the best approach that will have the highest effect and value to your organization. An organization should map the bespoke seven options based on their influence on technology, architecture, functionality, cost, and risk. 

Influence of factors (technology, architecture, functionality, cost, risk) on seven pillars 

Basically, modernizing legacy software or applications means making the best decision between rearchitecting, rebuilding, or replacing. Rebuilding or replacing provides the best results with higher costs and risks, whereas rearchitecting has medium cost and risks. The key is to weigh all options to help identify the extent to which each will have the desired effect — with the minimum effort and maximum positive impact.  

Now, it may be a question- how could an organization implement those processes to get rid of their legacy application. For those who don’t have the proper IT infrastructure or development support for modifying their existing system, consult with a Digital transformation Services company will be a well-rounded choice for them. An IT consulting company will support them with an A-To-Z application modernization roadmap.   

Application modernization roadmap 

A roadmap seems to be one common path that all the enterprises follow to successfully transition. But it is essential to remember that each organization has its journey, with personal goals and budgetary needs. The very first step is to break down monolithic applications into groups and small microservices. To rebuild from this point, application development service providers can guide you in the right direction with few general steps like  

Roadmap for legacy application modernization 

Some companies even try to explore ways of integrating with a digital workplace without making any changes to their existing application. I am hoping the above-mentioned strategies will help you to draw a positive solution in the future and apply the best approach by modernizing your legacy system with new technology.

With sprawling digital adoption fueled by emerging technologies such as cloud and AI, the enterprise IT landscape will be largely modernized over the next three to five years. Even as business leaders continue to look to CIOs to provide technology-driven differentiation in the marketplace, the enterprise applications ecosystem and its stakeholders will face new challenges. The demand for personalized micro-capabilities will soar, driving the need for continuous and rapid innovation – at scale.

As buyers increasingly play a direct role and assume an upper hand in the technology life cycle process, they will significantly impact how platform vendors, service providers, and developer communities evolve.

Those who foresee upcoming trends and adapt faster will outperform. This blog explores how enterprise applications are expected to evolve in the future and the impact it’s likely to produce beyond technology – for businesses as well as consumers.

Six trends shaping the future of enterprise applications

As technology disruptions upend our long-held knowledge on the value and ownership of enterprise applications, six major trends will define the future:

1. Hyper-contextual, micro-capabilities will lead to mass personalization at scale:

With cloud becoming the first choice for enterprise applications, the technology architecture of the future will be largely standardized across customers, allowing minimal customizations. Micro capabilities are basically Microservices or microservices architecture including cloud native architectural approach in which a single application is composed of many loosely coupled and independently deployable smaller components, or services. However, the key differentiating aspect of implementations will be highly personalized, contextualized micro-capabilities. These will not be a result of hard-coded customizations but will rather come from two different aspects: 

A. Cloud enterprise platforms’ capability to configure hyper-personalizationrelevant to customer’s market context and composable architecture, 

B. The evolving Apps marketplace publishing micro-capabilities through APIs. This means horizontal capabilities will be differentiated from micro-vertical capabilities and last-mile digital solutions.Security, data privacy, and regulatory concerns will ease significantly giving way to multi-cloud adoptions, except for some sector-specific applications that may remain on-premises with specialized capabilities built for a purpose.

Multi-cloud adoption

2. AI predictability will drive the selection of micro-capabilities:

Product assessment will be replaced with an outcome-drivenselection from a pool of capabilities, instead of standard modules-based subscription. Once business KPIs and expected outcomes are finalized, the enterprise platform’s AI engine will provide recommendations of relevant micro-capabilities to choose from libraries, based on customer’s market context, industry best practices, adoption of the capabilities across the customer base, and their historical success. AI predictabilitywill also be measured against outcomes.

3. Agile enterprise applications will reign:

Most application vendors will provide in-built agility in the life cycle of product capabilities developed. Upgrade frequency and features’ selection will be customized at source, even on multi-tenant architecture. Going forward, closed-loop systems will emerge to integrate user feedback directly into the product innovation cycle in near real-time, bringing the application implementation cycle closer to agile product development.

Agile Methodology in application

4. Businesses will be free from vendor lock-in:

Standardized technology architecture will eliminate vendor lock-ins, enabling organizations to switch vendors without risking a major change in application configuration implemented. It will be possible to have multiple products seamlessly delivering different micro-capabilities of a particular function or process for a customer. The adopted capabilities are expected to be highly portable across various enterprise platforms.

5. Buyer’s market will emerge:

With less fear of vendor lock-in and high portability, application vendors will offer new try and buy models without requiring any commitment for upfront investments. More mature vendors are also likely to offer outcome-linked subscription models, giving customers both assurance and flexibility to pay only when the desired outcomes are achieved. Business capabilities may also be priced based on outcomes.

6. The business experience will take center stage:

With digitalization becoming the norm in all business functions, the business experiencewill become sacrosanct. System of records will no longer be simply transactional; rather it will acquire strategic importance, as customers gain more direct access to back-office data and information. Likewise, the system of engagements will be under pressure to measure CX in terms of tangible outcomes. Such systems will, therefore, collaborate more with back-office functions and external ecosystems to adapt at the pace of business change. A zero-touch user interface will become a reality.

Analytics driven CX approach

The transformational impact on ecosystem partners

Let’s understand how the shift in enterprise application development impacts the key ecosystem partners:

1. Apps Marketplace will play an important role in developing micro-capabilities and shaping the enterprise landscape. Business capabilities will be published by various marketplace players, developers, and the crowdsourced community, leveraging individual experiences. Their API-driven approach for different products will further boost hyper-personalization and flexibility for customers. For instance, Salesforce is known for its leading AppExchange platform, where thousands of ISVs and developers have built enterprise products such as Vlocity for Industry Cloud & FinancialForce for PSA solutions. Many more will emerge going forward.

2. Cloud Platform services will be key to providing flexibility and scalability to customers. Integration platforms will become more API-based. Data, content & collaboration platforms will offer consumption-based pricing. AI & Analytics platforms will deliver enterprise business use cases that will be priced on outcomes. Blockchain and IoT platforms will have bundled pricing by consortia or based on customer impact. Low code, no code features will become de facto.

API based integration platform

3. Service Providers will play a challenging role as a core integrator of business capabilities – by processes, persona, and business needs. Some providers will also build capabilities in the Apps Marketplace which may remain IP owned by either the service provider or jointly with the client. With the democratization of application development, emerging citizen developers, and the growth in the crowdsourced community, the application development role of system integrators (SI) will be limited. 

However, service providers can emerge as a critical success partner for their clients as SIs will be largely looked upon as Advisors and Integrators who can assume the role of the true custodian of customers’ enterprise IT assets by leveraging multi-disciplinary teams with domain knowledge, experience design, and change management capabilities – all of which will assume higher importance. They will work closely with customers not only to implement business capabilities but also to assess best-of-breed application capabilities for their specific needs.

With increased technical debt due to legacy and fragmented cloud applications, architecture know-how will become a key differentiator. In an open enterprise, SIs will play a major role as orchestrators and channelize the consortia of Apps marketplace vendors, platform partners, and external services for their clients.

4. End customers will truly become Prosumers, directly influencing decisions related to products and service offerings, thanks to micro-capabilities offering hyper-personalization. Most customers will have personalized AI tools or assistants, and AI will be considered a new stakeholder that needs to be managed or influenced.

Human-Robot’s interaction or Cobots

5. Business users prefer role and persona-based application experiences that need higher personalization and context-driven functionalities. Cobot is one of its examples, where robots are intended for direct human-robot interaction within a shared place or work in proximity to humans. Cobots will be embedded into the applications, helping users with the automation of business workflows and physical actions together. Going forward, some business users will also become mature citizen developers. Take, for instance, Instabase that provides a platform and automation tooling to build custom business applications. Many such platforms will emerge as a powerful marketplace providing numerous micro-capabilities that empower citizen developers and power users in DIY mode.

6. CIOs will shift focus from administering the IT landscape to attaining business outcomes and measuring the ROI of capabilities. With less fear of vendor lock-in and agile capabilities available at scale, IT will continue to act as a key enabler of business and IT architecture will become highly composable. With these changes, some of the business spend will shift from buying or managing enterprise platforms to partnering with advisors and integrators to drive superior outcomes.

We have already stepped into a new application-driven year, where enterprise applications will play the role of an innovative catalyst to drive the engine for business.

After knowing the above facts and benefits, it can be a question that where a business should get the proper enterprise application solutions for aligning the new tech approach with business goals. For them, Inovar consulting can be a fruitful solution with correct application-driven strategy and skillful resource. Check out how we have applied application strategy in our different projects and reach us for more information.