This content is part of the Essential Guide: Guide to app modernization: Moving from legacy apps
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Get on the business path to legacy application modernization

A clash between the business and IT perspectives can result in missed opportunities and disappointment in modernization projects. In this webcast, TSG President William Ulrich discusses how to drive legacy application modernization from a business perspective.

What's wrong with a typical IT architecture legacy application modernization program? Ulrich outlined the following:

1. Tactically focused; lacks alignment for business strategy.

2. Business value proposition is poorly articulated or nonexistent.

3. Proposed initiatives lack business visibility, buy-in and funding.

4. ROI is primarily or exclusively based on IT cost savings.

5. Scope and frame of reference are constrained by business unit, application or political boundaries.

6. Programs are driven by IT, with a major focus on technical architecture.

7. End-state vision does little to address technical debt inherent in data and application architectures.

Most IT-driven modernization programs do not address technical debt, which can lead to bankrupt architectures. Bankruptcies occur when architectures doesn't serve as a foundation for future business evolution anymore. "Just like if you spend too much money and you go into debt, you can go bankrupt as a person, our architectures can go bankrupt," Ulrich said.

In order to reap the benefits of legacy application modernization, organizations need to come at programs from a business perspective. "If we can refocus on business value and continuously drive towards a broader set of business solutions, we can concurrently also address some of the technical debt instead of driving systems deeper into debt," Ulrich said. Modernization is frequently billed as an IT savings tool; however it is not able to address technical debt common in many organizations.

It's important to be able to thoroughly articulate what kind of investments need to be made and how they will impact business from a stakeholder perspective. "One of the things that drives many organizations to invest in IT solutions and IT modernization tends to be technical issues," Ulrich said. Those things, however, tend to be misleading. While maintenance costs and old computing languages are factors, they aren't the real reason why IT can't deliver solutions to businesses, according to Ulrich.

It's not uncommon for organizations to attempt to fix technical architectures without much success, according to Ulrich, because they are not focusing on the data and application architectures as well. "The real reason why IT can't deliver effective solutions, short term and long term, to the business tends to lie in the misalignment between the business vision, the value delivery capacity and capabilities on the one side and the data and application architectures that are implementing solutions to support that business architecture on the other side," he said.

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