The Modernization Challenge

With so many business priority challenges, technology needs and the rapid pace of innovation in the technology sector, technology leaders are often inundated with what to tackle first. Some would say the focus first & foremost should be ensuring your security posture but there are critical yet significantly aged applications that remain within the environment so are you able to able to implement the necessary security tools without negatively impacting these aged but business critical applications?

So then does the number one priority shift to modernizing the applications that fall into this category? Do your business stakeholders focus more of IT’s priorities (and your budget allocation) on introducing IT efficiency and scalability to handle peak workload times. Are you plagued by the questions of why your business, agency or locality aren’t able to leverage technology innovations like Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning, Robotic Process Automation and Data Analysis tools?

The reality is that unlike years past the challenge is no longer a technology one. Today’s challenge to modernization is more so a cultural one. As a former COO & current CTO it is easy to address the technology aspects of change when it comes to your modernization journey. However, the biggest obstacles that IT leaders are facing, specifically in the State & Local government space is a cultural one. Never in our history have we had so many tools and capabilities as we have today with the ability to create containers, leverage ML & AI, Robotic process automation to streamline repeatable tasks and drive efficiency in the business and the embodiment of “Everything-as – service” mindset, which continues to gain significant traction in all industries. So, when I say the limitations are cultural its usually due to a few differing reasons:

  1. Current IT staff consistently working against the objective of introducing significant modernization changes, this is usually borne out of fear that these enhancements will negatively impact their job stability. This is usually due to concern over lack of knowledge of some of the newer technologies or fear that dependence on their skillsets will decrease.
  2. Misalignment with Business objectives, this is not to say that you are not operating with the business in mind, but projects may not be prioritized according to actual business value and targeted outcome-based timeframes.

This all leads to a larger conversation around your modernization strategy. In fact, I know it sounds cliché’ but in order to truly have a successful modernization journey you must start with a solid Organizational Change Management strategy. Now most people mistakenly associate OCM as a activity for end users only. In fact, OCM is an organization wide activity which touches every aspect of your business. As we see organizations shift to a “product and/or service owner” mentality OCM is critical in ensuring that transition is a successful one. We know that this level Change can impact processes, systems, tools, job roles, workflows, mindsets, user behaviors and more. And each change impacts different groups within your organization differently. I say all of this to remind my colleagues to ensure that OCM is embedded into your project at the start and interwoven all your efforts along the path to modernization.