IT leadership: What to prioritize for the remainder of 2022

IT efforts should focus on modernization for the rest of the year and beyond. Consider this three-step strategy to align people, processes, and technologies
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As the calendar year winds down, you may be looking at your IT agenda and wondering what to chip away at in the remaining months. I encourage you to stay locked on the obvious, daunting as it may seem, and modernize, modernize, modernize.

Yes, modernizing IT applications is an unwieldy process. A single project can take months or even years. But it’s essential to digital transformation across almost every industry, and just because it could spill into 2023 and beyond doesn’t mean you should put off getting started.

Organizations will allocate significant funds – some 60-70 percent of discretionary budgets – toward application modernization, according to Infosys’ Modernization Radar 2022 (sign-up required to download), which polled 1,500 senior technology leaders and executives to gauge progress in the modernization journey.

[ Is your digital transformation lagging? Read Digital transformation: 6 tips to stay on track. ]

Of course, getting there is easier said than done. How do IT teams prioritize effective modernization? It’s a question that requires taking a step back, especially if day-to-day operations already stretch your team’s resources to the brink.

3 steps to help prioritize your IT agenda

A three-step process that prioritizes people, processes, and technologies can help. Effective IT modernization requires setting an outcome-based roadmap, seeding your teams with technical expertise, modernizing through zero-disruption means, and prompting micro-change with a modernization expert. Let’s detail each step below.

Step 1: Set a results-oriented roadmap

The right roadmap can help secure buy-in from key decision-makers across the enterprise. The more it ties key results to business outcomes across the firm, the better. With defined commercial outcomes, you’ll have a better chance to unlock funding and sponsorship from senior executives.

The best modernization roadmaps cast a vision at the top of the company that cascades down through well-defined objectives and key results. Short of that, modernization roadmaps risk neglect and under-resourcing, as decision-makers see them as ancillary.

Don’t sell the process short: Re-platforming, rebuilding, or replacing legacy applications carries a firm-wide impact, and its roadmap should signal as much.

The best modernization roadmaps cast a vision at the top of the company that cascades down through well-defined objectives and key results.

Step 2: Cross-pollinate Agile teams with deep technical expertise

To deliver product-centric value, it’s best to have autonomous, cross-functional teams running an Agile framework. Those teams can include technical practitioners, design thinkers, and business executives. Together, they can increase business growth by as much as 63%, Infosys’ Radar report uncovered.

Cross-pollination efforts can spread Agile across the entire enterprise, building credibility and trust among high-level stakeholders toward an iterative process that can deliver meaningful, if incremental, business results.

Step 3: Approach the Big Bang with caution

Big-bang rollouts, with a raft of modernizations released in one fell swoop, may seem attractive to management or other stakeholders. But they carry untold risk: developers scrambling to fix bugs after the fact, account teams working to retain disgruntled customers. Approach cautiously, and consider an Agile roadmap of smaller, iterative developments instead of the momentous release.

It also breaks down the considerable task of application modernization into smaller, bite-sized chunks. Your enterprise might not have a big moment to celebrate, but it likewise can avoid the disruption of that big moment gone wrong. Effective modernization – however incremental – speaks for itself.

The value of modernization

Modernization is a daunting process, but a wait-and-see approach will leave firms in the dust with legacy applications as digital-native rivals pull ahead.

Is there risk? Of course. Ineffective modernization can be chaotic, disruptive to business results, and corrosive to organizational culture; it can leave key stakeholders distrustful of technology teams and entrenched against future modernization.

But an effective modernization can benefit competitiveness and culture. It can frame a journey of smaller, guided steps with less enterprise disruption. It can foster interdisciplinary collaboration and a customer-first mindset. It can achieve all the upsides of modernized applications – reduced operational expenditures, access to technology like APIs and AI, improved reliability and resilience, a better customer experience, and ultimately more revenue – without the root canal of getting there.

Almost every modern company is undergoing digital transformation, which almost always requires some degree of application modernization. Daunting as that may seem, steps like these can give you the best possible chance to emerge on the other side, wondering why you didn’t do this long ago.

[ Discover how priorities are changing. Get the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report: Maintaining momentum on digital transformation. ]

Anant Adya, EVP at Infosys Cobalt, is responsible for growth of the CIS service line in the Americas and Asia Pacific regions for Infosys. In his 25 years of professional experience, he has worked closely with many global clients to help define and build their cloud and infrastructure strategies and run end-to-end IT operations.