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Is re-platforming overlooked in digital transformation strategies?

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As the pandemic and changing market demands drove a rapid increase in technology adoption, it is important to recognize the potential obstacles that legacy systems can present when undertaking a large-scale, company-wide project. Failure to acknowledge their significance from the beginning can result in major roadblocks.

A backdrop to digital transformation

The 2021 ‘IT Trends Study’ – led by the Society for Information Management – has found that replacing legacy systems was one of the top 10 IT investments for companies in 2020.

As a result, it’s no surprise that digital transformation projects continue to be a priority in 2021. More organisations than ever are looking to streamline their operations – making their processes leaner and more results-driven in a post-pandemic world. And they’re relying on technology to help them get there.

In fact, the past year has been something of a wake-up call for business owners – with many realising that their existing tech stack and internal systems are either no longer fit for purpose within the world of hybrid working or they don’t meet the high expectations of both their employees and customers.

In turn, this is seeing CIOs, CTOs, and CDOs busier than ever – being enlisted to set these transformational ventures in motion and deliver them at pace.

Recognising re-platforming as an enabler


At the cornerstone of every successful digital transformation story, there’s a platform that facilitates innovation, automation and enhances user experiences. But moving to a new platform doesn't need to feel operationally or financially overwhelming.

The key to effective transformation is centred on planning and refinement. If you lay the right foundations, then this will enable your transformation journey to take shape and evolve in tandem with your business.

It empowers an organisation to be freed from the constraints of their ‘burning platforms’ – ageing legacy systems that no longer support developments or updates – and make the transition to a newer, quicker, more flexible and futureproof alternative.

Once the building blocks are in place, firms can digitally transform at a pace that feels right for them and their broader external environment – and this doesn’t necessarily mean transforming everything at the same time.

A move to a more sustainable platform can be the catalyst for future change, meaning the right technology choice and implementation should form a crucial part of a company’s overall strategy.

‘Burning platforms’ have consequences

While legacy systems may have operational inefficiencies that some employees ‘learn to live with’, that doesn’t mean that all staff, and certainly customers, will have the same level of patience.

The world is living in a time of ‘inflated expectations’ – especially regarding digital experience – and while the pandemic may have been the driver for some of them, this is a storm that has been brewing in the background for a long time.

The pressures on firms to be able to provide key services and products online are undoubtedly mounting.

With the rapid evolution of technology, people expect to have a seamless, integrated, and positive experience – but outdated platforms can constrain an organisation’s ability to provide this.

In truth, older systems can seriously hamper the user experience, as they’re unable to accommodate new tools, capabilities, and content personalisation.

As a result, the reputational consequences of antiquated platforms need to be recognised – as this can ultimately impact how a brand is viewed by its audience.

But as well as the effect on the outward perception of a company, old technologies can also inhibit growth, as both internal and external users aren’t being served the experience they want to have. This could translate into personnel suffering from inefficient workflows or customers getting frustrated at a slow-loading website – or any number of issues for both in-house and peripheral users.

Let's talk about these challenges

As a consequence, this links directly into maintaining market share and a competitive edge. If employees and clients don’t feel satisfied with the experience they are receiving, they will likely take their skillsets and custom elsewhere.

While efficiencies and growth are important in the whole re-platforming debate, there’s an area that’s not to be forgotten – inclusivity and accessibility.

Undergoing a digital transformation initiative also requires behavioural insight. We should investigate all users’ requirements in-depth – as this will form the business case for any subsequent tech investments – and enable businesses to provide for people who have accessibility and inclusion needs. An inclusive approach can not only help prevent further societal marginalisation but close the digital divide for good – giving everyone, regardless of race, gender, disability, or age, a positive digital experience.

Looking towards the future


Named by Gartner as one of the top trends of 2020, hyper-automation also plays a key role in the direction of digital transformation.

It will be crucial in further helping those companies that have transitioned from a cumbersome legacy system to cloud-based technology, to harness the power of AI and machine learning to computerise processes, augment humans, and reduce the overhead of their technology.

And while re-platforming may not feel like the most obvious step for businesses wanting to deploy solutions quickly, it’s a case of weighing up the options.

By going ahead with a digital transformation project without re-platforming, there’s the inevitability of experiencing limitations and building technical debt which has to be rectified at a later date.

It’s in this sense that re-platforming should be seen as an organisation’s investment into their future.

By evaluating existing tech infrastructure and getting the platform right, firms are well-positioned for being both scalable and agile enough to adapt to the market’s ever-changing needs.

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