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IT modernization is essential to business continuity; however, many companies don’t know where to begin their modernization journey. According to BCG, only 30% of modernization projects succeeded in achieving their objectives, creating confusion for enterprises.
An approach known as “hyperautomation” is becoming increasingly important to address this complexity and quickly identify IT and business intelligent processes. Looking towards the future, it will continue to be a strategic imperative, decreasing overall modernization risk.
Gartner defines hyperautomation as “an approach that enables organizations to rapidly identify, vet and automate as many processes as possible using technology, such as robotic process automation (RPA), low-code application platforms (LCAP), artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual assistants.”
An example of hyperautomation is end-to-end automation capabilities. When enabled with credible data and insights, it empowers enterprises to analyze workflows, design AI-infused apps with low-code tooling, assign tasks to bots and track performance on the go.
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The analytical tools and capabilities that underpin hyper-automation and enable human-machine collaboration unleash a wide range of benefits. These include fostering greater flexibility, increased return on investment, improved forecasting ability, reduced need for operational investments, higher employee productivity and engagement, easier decision-making and enhanced customer experience. The overall reduces the complexity of modernization and simplifies the journey to achieving it.
Platform-based automation is a valuable driver of modernization
Platform-based automation enables organizations to automate routine tasks in a standardized and repeatable way. Experts within these organizations can identify the precise components and frameworks they want incorporated and eliminate most of the tedious work that can be labor-intensive for developers.
Platforms can drive modernization patterns through highly automated workflows. There are platforms that assist with several different dimensions of modernization. They include cloud-native development, cloud application, database migration and mainframe modernization.
The automated workflows that emerge from these platforms typically help reduce operating costs as well as human-driven workloads while also accelerating time to market. Companies pursuing platform-based modernization tend to realize value faster while also improving risk management and delivering higher-quality results. The other key benefit is that there’s typically little, if any, disruption to the entity pursuing modernization.
Platform-based automation is often enabled by platform engineering.
Gartner, identifies platform engineering as one of the top 10 technology trends for 2023, and defines it as “the discipline of building and operating self-service internal developer platforms for software delivery and life cycle management.” The goal is “to optimize the developer experience and accelerate product teams’ delivery of customer value.”
Research firm Omida points out that platforms offering custom combinations focused on automating modernization are essential for accelerating the technology.
“Platformized modernization can take the guesswork out of the gradual transition of legacy IT infrastructure and applications before they can be retired,” writes Omdia. “By taking a platform-based approach to modernization, enterprises can leverage the low-code/no-code features of the platform to generate a microservices skeleton that has all the basic code and best practices encoded, and by adding in the business logic and rules, robust and high-quality microservices can be quickly developed and deployed.”
Modernization case study
A modernization case study prepared by Omdia features a property and casualty insurance company seeking to migrate its existing IT system to a new platform. The migration involved more than 10 million lines of mainframe code and called for a seamless transformation, with no disruptions for the company’s 23,000 agents. It involved platform-based automation and a custom data integration layer across the legacy and modernized systems in providing Omida with the adaptability to cope with rapidly changing business requirements.
Taking a platformized approach to modernization and introducing automation and cloud allowed the company to reduce costs and overhead while addressing both the need for agility and the desire to keep costs in check while delivering with zero disruption.
The agility enabled by this platformized automation approach enabled Omida to retire the legacy system within 18 months of the project starting — with ticket inventory falling by about 70% and maintenance team productivity rising about 10%.
Agent productivity also rose thanks to a 20% reduction in UI (User Interface) data entry and the time needed to initiate new policies falling by about 20 percent. There was also a 30% reduction in the time needed to implement the policy rollout.
Baked-in platform-based automation
Another modernization example comes from a North American auto manufacturer seeking to update the app it was using for pricing and product configurations of models and accessories. Pricing and product configurations primarily involved manual data entry, and that data was housed in legacy databases lacking any workflow mechanism. As a result, the company did not have visibility or control over job execution; the organization wanted a more scalable, flexible and modular app.
The modernization that followed involved analyzing 34 years of data, then enabling that data to be accessed from local and remote databases — not simply the existing mainframe-based databases. All of the pricing data was also migrated to a new system.
Platform-based automation was baked into the modernization program, which resulted in a 90% reduction in data entry, along with a 90% reduction in data entry errors. Other benefits were improved flexibility and agility of the vehicle supply chain. The company also had an app that was scalable and reusable and sufficiently flexible to accommodate the incremental transformation away from the legacy mainframe application.
Looking ahead, the fundamental question about IT modernization is not “if” but “when.” The “how” of modernization, therefore, grows in importance.
By using platforms to automate tasks, organizations can reduce costs, boost productivity and maximize efficiency. This is further enhanced with hyper-automation tools that ensure an automation-first approach to business success. Taking a platform-based approach to modernization allows for highly complex programs to improve efficiency without disruption; this can be the winning lever for competitiveness now and well into the future.
Gautam Khanna is the vice president and global head of the modernization practice at Infosys.