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Innovation and modernization doesn't require a blank slate

By Ali Ahmed, EVP and general manager, ibi

When your competition appears to be succeeding faster than your organization, it's natural to feel tempted to scrap what has previously worked for your business and instead hop onto the latest trend.

The emergence of new and innovative technology often has major benefits, but there's rarely a reason to start from scratch in an attempt to keep up with the latest innovation. For example, companies have been eager to apply generative AI to their business processes so that they can remain competitive. These technologies are meant to streamline business, but evaluating and deploying new technology in addition to daily business operations can be expensive and time consuming.

In fact, it's likely your current solutions are already innovative and can be a cost-efficient starting point to future modernization. When implementing newer technology, it can be faster and more affordable to innovate with your current tech stack. To do this, it's important to evaluate the strengths of your current technology and understand the direction and evolution of the product.

Remember your product purpose

If a technology solution has been around for several years - whether it be a product you're providing or a part of your internal tech stack - it can be easy to pejoratively slap the term "legacy" on that solution.

The truth is that a product or system deemed "legacy" isn't inherently bad or broken. Thanks to those legacy systems or products, your business may have developed valuable partnerships, and your customers may still see their needs met.

When you look to innovate, it's important to remember your product's core purpose. It's also important to remember what's at stake. If you rush to revolutionize your current systems you could jeopardize established success. Therefore, it's important to iterate, test and be sure about if and how you should evolve your legacy systems. A well-vetted process, one that includes internal stakeholders and strategic partners, is a key component of any modernization attempt.

It begins with data management

As we move into the next wave of modernization, much of which will include integrations of hybrid cloud technology and generative AI (Gen AI), strategic data management will be the first step for enterprises. Any modernization initiative will require you to be confident in your systems and data. In other words, you'll need to know the state of your current systems and governance processes before you introduce new technology into your businesses.

Because it's a popular topic, let's look at Gen AI as an example. Almost all Gen AI - whether it's for internal processes like software development or external like an online shopping companion - is trained on the data made available to it. If your internal data is sound - which means it's correct, current, and full of the right context - then your team or your customers will get the desired outputs from the Gen AI solution.

Getting the quality data you need for innovative technologies, like AI, requires the help of digital solutions that promote good data management, or more specifically, master data management (MDM). MDM allows you to correct, curate and share governed data throughout your organization so that data becomes valuable for everyone in the organization. Governed data - or data that has gone through integration, quality assurance and security checks - will help you modernize. This way, each step in that modernization process has less chance of being irrelevant to business goals because each person is making decisions based on the same data.

In any modernization attempt, it's important to lean on those who are creating the very technology with which you innovate in your organization. This way, you don't innovate in a silo or overextend the resources of your IT team on your path to modernization.

Incremental improvement

In modernization, an incremental approach may be best because it allows your product or service to change at the appropriate pace. The product won't change too fast - avoiding adequate concerns for scalability and security - and it won't change too slow - allowing you to responsibly keep up with your competition.

This incremental approach is another opportunity to work with your technology partners. At each stage of this process, they may be able to see ways in which the technology could be more effective or is not performing as you may have hoped. An incremental approach like this allows your team and your partners to divide and conquer on the path to modernization. It also allows minimal interruption in downtime for your users and makes it easier to fix errors or pivot to a new plan if necessary. 

Modernization doesn't have to happen alone or on a blank slate

Throughout my career, I've participated in several waves of innovation - it's an inevitable step to grow and/or change to keep current. Throughout these waves one thing is clear - it's easier and faster to incrementally build on a trusted, embedded system than to start from scratch. Look at your current technology and trust your strategic partners for a faster path to modernization and a more affordable way to bring change to your investment.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ali Ahmed, General Manager, ibi, a business unit of Cloud Software Group

ALI AHMED

Ali Ahmed is the General Manager of the Enterprise Applications business unit at Cloud Software Group, where he is responsible for the ibi, Jaspersoft, Foresight, and Gridserver portfolio of products. Previously Ali was SVP of Engineering at TIBCO, where he led enterprise solutions engineering, products, and technology.

Over his 21-year tenure at TIBCO, he has held a number of leadership roles across engineering, including Head of Global Engineering Services, and he brings deep expertise in delivering high-quality products and managing large engineering teams worldwide. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Engineering and an MBA from Osmania University.

Published Friday, December 01, 2023 7:33 AM by David Marshall
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