Future Proof Your IT Landscape
The ability and agility to continually innovate — these are the critical drivers for enabling successful digital transformation and the capacity to continually adapt and grow as you do. And underpinning the actualization of this connected, future ready and ambidextrous enterprise, the modernization and leveraging of critical legacy systems is fast becoming a modern IT landscape imperative.
Putting this into context, with an average lifespan ranging from 15 to 40 years, today’s large enterprise can have amassed over one thousand applications. And when it comes to data, the statistics become more illuminating still. In 2020, we created 1.7MB of data every single second and by 2025, across individual, machine, and business alike, the amount of data generated each day is expected to reach 463 exabytes globally (Raconteur) with some 200+ zettabytes of that data residing in the cloud. And this all generated, consumed, shared and stored across an array of devices and applications.
What are the key challenges and how can we overcome them to ensure faster IT project implementation and superior support of new business needs?
Move Beyond the Complexity of Legacy
Our legacy systems can become a juxtaposition — on one hand, being a core and reliable technology driver yet on the other, a core obstacle to becoming an agile and connected enterprise. Ranging from databases and mainframes, to core banking systems and business applications for ERP, SCM, MRPII and CRM, when legacy systems are siloed in your organization, they hold back modernization and capacity to innovate. In a recent study of retailers, 46% stated their legacy technology cannot keep up with the (agility) demands of today’s changing world (Retail Systems Research 2021). As the volume and frequency of digital transformation initiatives intensifies, alongside speed of delivery and dynamic compliance requirements, for example the objective of PSD2 banking data regulation is to ‘open up’ accessibility, it perhaps is no surprise that IT is increasingly overwhelmed by the extent of requests for data feeds from these older but critical systems.
Additional risks include the cost of maintaining legacy architectures, talent skills gaps for aging technologies, complexity of workflows and inability to link an application with other key processes, or to collaborate seamlessly and efficiency. In addition, the once sufficient methods of direct, mediated or point-to-point integration now often add challenges with a myriad of undocumented and/or re-coded dependencies. Indeed, integration scenarios are at an all-time high regards complexity and shorter lifecycles too. In combination, this create significant barriers to both connectivity and innovation at scale. But what if you could find a way to turn this scenario around and accelerate with legacy rather than be constrained by it? The Good News — Yes it can be! and more easily than you might imagine.
Achieving Full Legacy Value — An API First Approach
Recent research data suggests more modernisation took place in 2020 than the years prior accelerated by changing consumer expectations and behaviors, alongside operational demands and business model evolution catalyzed by the pandemic. The time is now to bring the full value of historic technical investments to life — but this does not have to mean the replacement of legacy systems with newer SaaS applications. In fact when we consider what all legacy integration challenges have in common, the answer is a hybrid pattern based on API’s. With an API-First approach, you can bring ‘legacy back to life’ — or more accurately, extend the life of legacy and the value it can afford across business and IT. This is the very essence of IT landscape modernization — adapting older but vital legacy systems to support modern and dynamic business, consumer and technology needs; with fostering standardization and an open integration landscape becoming a core pillar to success.
With an API-led approach, you can reduce risk and intrusiveness, leveraging your existing legacy applications by securely exposing the capabilities, functionality and key data using APIs, which in turn is made available real-time to new digital cloud native applications and processes. The SAP Business Technology Platform Integration Suite alongside API Management and API Business Hub achieve exactly this, offering dedicated and specialized services working together to model, adapt and manage APIs to afford modern application integration. APIs also make work more efficient for developers and once functionality has been created it can be reused, reducing technical debt from both a maintenance and skills perspective. The results can be transformational and is best illustrated with a real world example of customer impact, as highlighted at the recent SAP Innovation Awards.
As a leading British multinational energy and services company, and with 60% of its customers signed up to interact through digital channels, Centrica wanted to become a truly API-first company to provide an enhanced digital experience to consumers and partners. To do this, Centrica faced the challenge of transforming a 70 TB and ten year old ERP & CRM system APIs layer. This was achieved by building APIs utilizing SAP Cloud Platform services to expose data, starting with 6 new REST API’s focused on customer, account, contract and products information. Alongside improvements in customer experience and satisfaction, and other revenue streams through acquisition and retention, this performance result says so much too — a stunning <200 msec SAP solution query response time versus 1.8 secs in the old system. Impressive! A further example exploring Bacardi’s Digital Integration evolution using SAP’s Cloud Platform Integration Suite is available here. What is clear from both these journeys is that whilst there can never be a one-size-fits-all approach to change, a hybrid integration strategy with an API-First mindset is now a critical lever for future proofing the IT landscape, extending the value of legacy and optimizing the time and talent of your resources too.
About the Author
Dr. Sally Eaves is a highly experienced Chief Technology Officer, Professor in Advanced Technologies and a Global Strategic Advisor on Digital Transformation specializing in the application of emergent technologies, notably AI, FinTech, Blockchain & 5G disciplines, for business transformation and social impact at scale. An international Keynote Speaker and Author, Sally was an inaugural recipient of the Frontier Technology and Social Impact award, presented at the United Nations in 2018 and has been described as the ‘torchbearer for ethical tech’ founding Aspirational Futures to enhance inclusion, diversity and belonging in the technology space and beyond.