Unless you’re running a digital native company, you probably have some legacy software that needs updating. And if you’ve been in business for decades, then you more than likely have a lot of them! That’s a heavy burden to handle when you’re faced with the highly competitive marketplace that’s increasingly dominated by digital players.

So, like a lot of businesses these days, you set your sights on modernization. Deciding where to start is a tough job.  It’s all about setting your priorities, which means there are a lot of questions to ask:

  • Which applications should I rebuild from scratch and move to the cloud?
  • Which applications merely need to be modified, not scrapped?
  • How can I transition an essential application without causing business processes to come to a grinding halt, resulting in serious declines in productivity?
  • Which applications can stay just as they are for the time being?

Well, the good news is, lots of companies are in the same boat as you, asking these very same questions. Every company deals with modernization in its own way according to their unique environment but there are a few golden rules to be learned.

Here are the three golden rules of modernization. Understanding these principles will help you plot your own journey toward a modern, digital, cloud-based environment.

1. The Benefits of Modernization Go Beyond Cost Savings

By now it’s a well-known fact that cloud migration can do a lot to help the bottom line for businesses. From smaller IT departments to lower data storage costs, the cost savings have been touted as a primary reason for getting businesses to start their move to a cloud-based environment.

But that’s a short-sighted value proposition because the benefits of modernization go much deeper and broader than saving money on IT.

So, if the reason why the “cloud revolution” is so exciting is not that companies are saving money… then what is it?

Modernization is exciting because of agility.

What’s so exciting is that, by taking a deep look at their workflows, companies are transforming their organizational structure in ways that allow them to become agile. An agile environment has a multiplier effect on whatever it is your company is trying to accomplish.

Much more exciting than one-dimensional cost savings, right?

Bottom line: modernization helps companies become more agile and that helps them be competitive in an increasingly global marketplace where the rules seem to change every time the wind changes direction.  

2. Modernization is a Transformative Journey

We talk a lot about journeys here but that’s because we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to know that modernization isn’t ever going to be quick or simple (if it’s done right). Lots of leaders know they need to modernize — the pressure is palpable — but execution is where they get stuck.

Ripping the band-aid and disrupting everything with massive changes is not the way to go.

The last thing any leader wants is to unravel years of hard work by taking long-established business processes and blowing them to smithereens in the name of modernization. Legacy applications support carefully-crafted workflows that have evolved over time to form a business culture. You need to carry out your plans in a way that results in the least disruption for the “customer”, whether that’s a B2B or B2C customer, your employees, or the vendors your partner with.

Disruption does indeed call for a rethinking of all this but the way you approach everything is key. Change leaders need to think about which processes will benefit the most from modernization.

Rather than abandoning all your legacy applications at once, it’s much more effective to devise a strategy for a step-by-step approach. That way, you get to bring everyone along gradually and help them make the transition. In many cases, that may mean taking those old apps and moving them to the cloud rather than scrapping them altogether and creating new ones. You’ll need to study your workflows carefully to decide how to make those choices.

3. The Goals of Modernization are Based on the Customer Journey

Modernization is not about superficially changing the way your business and customer-facing applications look. Yes, the final outcome of your modernization process will probably involve some updated interfaces that look way better than the old ones, but that’s merely a by-product of something far more important: new capabilities.

Your goal is to offer your customers, your employees, and/or your vendors a better experience. Applications that merely look better but which don’t create value for the user will just end up costing you money with no real benefit.

Modernization allows companies to drastically change the way they do things and it’s making a huge difference for almost everyone in their network:  

  • Customers are better served with increased opportunities for personalization, for example. Other examples include loyalty programs or better mobile shopping carts. The possibilities are endless.
  • Employees are better served with software that gives them the tools they need to be productive. Examples include better visibility, powerful dashboards, and machine learning-assisted data analysis that helps them focus on strategy
  • Vendors are better served too. Examples include a more secure environment for the sharing of data and systems that are more flexible so vendor communication and transactions are more efficient

So, when you’re mapping out your own road to modernization, it’s important not to forget why you’re doing it…to improve the customer experience.

With these three guiding principles in mind, you can start to plan a successful journey to a cloud-based environment. In other words, a journey that’s well-planned with workflow priorities in mind. Remember, it’s a journey that you can make unfold without alienating your customers, your employees, or your partners and without spending valuable resources in the wrong places.