Digital transformation, capturing “the implementation of new technologies, talent, and processes to improve business operations and satisfy customers”, as Clint Bolton described it for CIO Magazine, is sweeping every sector – from retail, insurance and financial services to local, state and federal government. This shift was accelerated by a global pandemic and has strained the ability of many enterprises and government organizations to meet the growing need for services delivered digitally. The impact in some cases was critical – for example, websites for services such as unemployment claims and vaccine appointments crashed. It is not surprising that the 2021 survey from National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) points to better online experiences for citizens as the main driver for state and territory CIOs to expand digital services.
The Time for Application Modernization is Now
On the enterprise side, most industry observers agree that between 80 to 90% have now adopted cloud services in some form. The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated what had already been a steady migration of IT workloads to the cloud over the past several years.
The insurance industry alone is poised to transform itself with emerging new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI). According to McKinsey, “satellites, drones, and real-time data sets will give insurers unprecedented visibility into the risk around facilities, leading to greater accuracy, and claims processing after natural catastrophes will be automated, infinitely scalable, and lightning fast”. For incumbent insurance companies, this transformation is only achievable down the line if their core legacy applications can be modernized first. Case in point – a leading healthcare insurer with an aging system that was expensive and time-consuming to maintain, could not meet the new heightened digital CX standards its customers demanded. They embarked on a modernization process by automating the extraction of legacy application business rules over two phases to fully understand and document their more than 1.5M lines of code written in COBOL. Both phases of this modernization project were completed in 7.5 months and have led to a positive impact on their customer experience overall.
In the United States, the Office of Management and Budget in 2018 directed all executive branch agencies to incorporate customer experience (CX) into their strategic decisions, culture, and design of services. The payoff is often an increase in the services used by citizens. For example, The Department of Veteran Affairs website overhaul led to a 50% jump in online health care applications by veterans over the previous year. Yet, despite the pressure for digital transformation, most government organizations still have no more than 20% of their workloads in the cloud. And nearly two-thirds of organizations are dissatisfied with the results to date from their cloud initiatives, per this joint study performed by Accenture and NASCIO.
Upgrade Customer Experiences with Intelligent Application Modernization
To fully achieve the benefits that today’s cloud offers to enterprises and government organizations, IT teams need to find a way to safely and efficiently execute on key processes that enable application modernization for their legacy applications. Enter intelligent application modernization – the end-to-end automation of processes , including reverse-engineering (documentation and analysis), business rules extraction, and finally, code optimization and migration. Arlington County in Virginia was able to leverage these modernization techniques to migrate two mission critical systems in order to mitigate rising costs associated with maintenance and help resolve difficulties associated with extending or enhancing these systems. These issues can affect citizen experiences through slow system speeds and prolonged wait times for updates related to changing legislative requirements. The county started by automatically extracting embedded information from the source of roughly 500,000 lines of code distributed across COBOL, CA-IDEAL, and DATACOM in order to deeply understand the business logic and data model. Then, in eight months, they automated the generation of the target system onto Microsoft’s .NET platform in C#, achieving an 82% automation rate. The completed systems continue to run in production to this day.
It’s not news that cloud-first companies such as Amazon, Google, Etsy, and Lemonade, to name a few, have the inherent digital advantage. They continue to raise the bar for online CX standards. In order to stay competitive with these digital natives, enterprises and government organizations with critical, older applications need to accelerate their modernization efforts.
Thankfully intelligent application modernization is here for the rescue.