7 min read

COVID-19 is accelerating the need for application modernization – here’s how

Covid Modernization

From disrupting supply chains to changing how customers and employees behave, COVID-19 has affected businesses in every industry in some shape or form.

With customer preferences shifting toward online offerings even before the pandemic, many business leaders were either implementing digital initiatives or had plans to do so in the future.

The future just arrived much sooner than expected.

Nearly overnight, businesses had to think of ways to deliver relevant customer experiences. No longer just preferring online interactions for their ease and convenience, customers began preferring them for safety reasons. And so did employees.

To deliver these experiences, businesses needed to accelerate their digital transformation journeys. That is still true today, as businesses are still navigating the pandemic’s lasting effects.

And the crucial first step to a digital transformation journey is application modernization. You can read my previous blog on that here.

Before I get into why application modernization is needed to compete in a post-COVID world, I’ll briefly touch on the business changes we saw from the outset of the pandemic:

Companies Across Industries Had to Adapt

  1. Retailers introduced curbside pickup and contactless commerce to accommodate customers who were no longer shopping in their stores.
  2. Software vendors had to embrace online collaboration tools and new methodologies to help with their new remote workforce.
  3. The healthcare industry made the move to telehealth and other online experiences to safely and conveniently help their patients.
  4. Media companies had to adapt to new safety protocols amid a surge of demand due to more people at home and a lack of other entertainment options.
  5. Companies that quickly responded to address the “new normal” not only survived, but thrived.

How Can Your Business Thrive in the New Normal?

Organizations with monolithic and legacy IT systems have long felt their burden. With technical debt mounting, pressures to reduce costs rising, and a lack of speed and flexibility, business leaders know what’s ultimately holding back their businesses: a lack of modern infrastructure and applications. The inefficient and costly processes resulting from them make it nearly impossible to implement the new business models needed to compete.

COVID-19 has amplified these traditional pain points of using legacy infrastructure — and it’s also brought along new concerns and opportunities. It’s now more important than ever to become a business that’s agile enough to not only stay competitive, but to successfully deal with any future disruptions.

Application modernization has therefore gone from an eventuality to “How soon can we do it?” in order to future-proof enterprise systems.

The answer to that question depends on the modernization strategy, which certainly involves the cloud. With the ever-increasing popularity of public cloud platforms and the maturity of hybrid cloud models, migrating products and services to the cloud has become an inevitable step for any enterprise looking to modernize their application portfolio.

Top Benefits of the Cloud in a Post-COVID World

In addition to the usual benefits of the cloud that are often mentioned, such as the speed, flexibility, and cost optimization the cloud offers, here are three reasons for moving your business to the cloud in a post-COVID world:

1. Business continuity and disaster recovery

As we saw with COVID-19, disaster can strike at any moment. Your business should be prepared for the next unforeseen disruption, whether that be a pandemic or another significant event. Downtime from these events can lead to loss of revenue, customer dissatisfaction, and even a downgrade in reputation. To ensure your business operations continue to run smoothly, cloud should be at the heart of any disaster recovery plan. Thanks to the cloud’s high availability and redundancy features, recovery and restoration are easily done through the cloud in as little as a few minutes. And if you’re looking at a long recovery time for your own onsite operations, your files can easily be replicated to another site, available to be accessed from anywhere with an internet-connected device. This is in contrast to traditional recovery methods, as traveling to a remote site could be potentially dangerous.

2. Remote workforce management

Just as the cloud can help with a secure and seamless way to access your company’s files from anywhere via the internet in times of disaster, the cloud enables employees to work from home, from hotels, or any other location — for any reason. Now that employees have gotten a taste of remote work life, many see this as the new reality rather than a temporary one. Through internet-enabled access to your files and systems and remote collaboration tools made possible by the cloud, your business will be prepared to offer the same great service to your customers whether your employees are in-office or at home.

3. Improved customer experience

E-commerce played an important role as shops closed their doors due to the pandemic, and the rate of customers who prefer to shop online doesn’t appear to be going back to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon, if at all.

It’s been more than just shopping online, though. Customers have enjoyed the added ability to move seamlessly between online and offline experiences, such as being able to buy a product via their phone and then choose curbside pickup as the delivery method.

Customers now expect the same streamlined, digital experiences they got used to during the pandemic — and they expect these experiences not just in retail, but in other industries as well.

To offer those digital experiences, businesses are turning to the cloud.

With the cloud, businesses are able to bridge offline and online experiences. No matter what devices customers use, with cloud services, businesses are able to keep the context of those customer interactions across whichever devices their customers choose, as well as inform customer service channels (in-person, remote, or chatbots) of the interactions to ensure smooth transitions between channels.

And by using real-time reporting tools and analytics enabled by the cloud, they are able to personalize those experiences and improve upselling and cross-selling efforts.

All of this results in differentiated end-to-end customer experiences that improve customer loyalty and satisfaction.

But How Do You Get There?

While it’s true that COVID-19 has made it so organizations no longer have the luxury of time to modernize their IT systems, a simple lift and shift just isn’t a feasible strategy for moving to the cloud. Running modern applications on-premises, or legacy systems on cloud, can reproduce those same inefficiencies you want to move away from, keeping you from fully achieving your business goals.

But a full rewrite of your legacy systems on day one isn’t feasible either.

So how can you begin your application modernization journey?

What is feasible (and what I recommend) is to analyze the individual components of your legacy systems. Focus only on modernizing the components that are keeping you from reaching your business goals right now (e.g., ones that are affecting efficiency) and keep a continuous eye on the rest.

By modernizing the components that need it the most, you’ll be able to take advantage of all that the cloud has to offer within a short period of time.

Need for a Trusted Partner

As you build modern mobile and web apps, strengthen your digital customer experience capabilities, and leverage the cloud, you need to choose the right partner who can help you achieve these objectives with speed, at scale, and with reliability through a component-focused approach to application modernization.

For a company affected by the pandemic, we were that partner. As a leading mortgage services provider, the client extracted data from a large number of financial documents. Their outdated technology solution made automation impossible, however, so hundreds of manual verifiers were needed for the process. On top of that, the client wanted to expand to serve a new market, but operational costs were rising to the point of making that expansion not viable.

And then COVID-19 hit.

Based offshore, the company’s manual verifiers were subject to a series of lockdowns. Business operations came to a screeching halt. The company had no one to verify the financial documents, throwing off the whole process. To ensure business continuity, they had to hire talent closer to its onsite operations, putting an enormous strain on their resources and pushing operational costs even higher.

They needed to automate. As part of an application modernization initiative, we helped them take advantage of emerging technologies like AI to develop a hyper automation solution.

The new automated process, enabled by a modern technology stack, enabled them to gradually reduce dependency on hundreds of manual verifiers altogether. Not only did the solution solve the disruption caused by COVID-19 and enable business continuity — it also saved them significant operational costs, empowering them to expand into the market they were seeking before the pandemic.

What Relevantz Can Do for You

With our business-first, outside-in modernization approach, Relevantz can help you re-engineer your current enterprise systems, separate the applications from legacy infrastructure, modularize intermingled business processes, liberate data from legacy systems, and innovate new digital systems.

And because our approach is iterative, your enterprise will be able to enjoy all the benefits of new information technologies, such as having the agility to adapt quickly to the demands of the marketplace, while keeping your legacy systems humming behind the scenes.

Do you feel the need to accelerate your application modernization initiatives?