Earlier this year, Fresche held a focus group with IBM i executives and users to talk about modernization. In this article, we’ll debunk the common application modernization myths that we uncovered in those conversations.
Application modernization is a realistic IT initiative, right? Especially now-a-days with all of the open source, mobile and web capability that’s available on IBM i.
Weren’t we surprised to find out what some organizations really think about modernization!
Earlier this year, we engaged the market research firm Sylvestre & Co. to gather some Power System IBM i market intel on behalf of Fresche. We reached out to 12 organizations to understand their IT goals and gain insight into their knowledge and understanding of application modernization. More specifically, we wanted to learn about their current relationship with their IBM i and what application modernization means to them.
We were surprised to find out that many don’t know which modernization options are available to them, nor did they have any kind of short or long term plan. In addition, many don’t see the business value in application modernization or think it’s too costly to undertake.
Our goal is to help Power Systems users overcome these perceived obstacles to IBM i application modernization. In this article, we’ll debunk the top three IBM i and application modernization myths and misconceptions that we uncovered in those conversations.
Myth: My IBM i is outdated and can’t support my business.
The perception in many IBM i shops is that the IBM i is a legacy platform with an outdated interface incapable of supporting modern solutions.
Reality: Organizations agree that their IBM i is easy to maintain and is the best performing platform for enterprise applications. Most IBM i clients we spoke to said that their IBM i is the most reliable platform they were running. It doesn’t require a DBA or many resources to maintain the applications. It also gives them the best performance compared to other platforms they run.
However, communicating the IBM i’s business value internally is a challenge for some organizations. Many IBM i users still refer to the system as AS/400 or iSeries and many of their C-level executives aren’t aware of the new features that are now available, such as mainstream languages, open source, web and mobile technologies.
You can pretty much do anything with your applications on IBM i. Here are few things that can maximize their value:
Deploying web and mobile applications - as opposed to green screens – and leveraging the wealth of information in your IBM i applications – can go a long way in delivering tremendous value to your business.
Web applications can increase revenue with B2B or B2C eCommerce applications. They can also integrate with other systems and platforms to provide better service to your clients and partners. In addition, web applications have a modern, familiar interface that can reduce training costs. IBM i support for open source languages also helps organizations find new developers and take advantage of modern web and mobile technologies.
Extending IBM i applications to mobile devices allows companies to extract more value from the platform. Imagine sales representatives accessing pricing and inventory on smartphones or CEOs viewing sales charts on tablets. You can even replace paper-based processes with mobile devices in the warehouse.
All of these initiatives support business needs and are often achievable with existing staff, the right tools and the right business partner. Web and mobile technologies are ideal for an agile and phased approach to modernization that allows organizations to see business benefits quickly.
Myth: Modernization isn’t for everyone.
Some IBM i shops shared that they don’t think modernization is necessary, that it’s out of their budget and some don’t see the value. They see that IBM i is a stable platform, but they don’t see why they should change if it isn’t broken.
Reality: The business world is changing and if companies want to stay competitive they need to do business in modern ways. For example, in this day and age, being able to transact online is essential in almost every industry.
If your customers and partners can’t easily access the information they need, they will go elsewhere. IT needs adapt to the rapid pace of change to meet the growing needs of the business. If IT isn’t looking at ways to deliver innovative and competitive solutions on IBM i, business stakeholders will find other teams or outsource solutions, which often isn’t the best approach.
Modernization includes many things, such as web and mobile, modularizing your code to integrate with other technologies, improving business processes, and much more. Organizations from one-person IT shops to large development teams can all benefit from modernizing their applications.
We’ve seen companies repurpose their existing applications by offering self-serve, browser-based access to their partners and/or customers. For many, this is a first modernization step that gives them a significant competitive advantage over competitors who still use green screens.
An IBM i organization that deployed a web-based B2B order entry application recently told us: “One of our customers said that when they're on hold with a competitor, they're ordering from us online!"
Myth: Modernization is time consuming and costs millions of dollars.
Organizations shared with us that they believe modernization is out of reach because the costs are high and they don’t have the time to dedicate to lengthy, multi-year projects.
Reality: There are many different approaches to modernization and there is almost always a solution to fit the business need. You don’t have to do it all at once, and it doesn’t mean you have to rewrite all your applications.
Start small: Address modernization in bite-sized pieces where you can control the budget, see short term results and improve the odds of success. Additionally, once the benefits are realized, it’s often easier to get business support and buy-in to accomplish more.
If organizations only see modernization as moving to a new ERP or moving off the platform, then modernization is time consuming and costs millions of dollars. These projects almost always span multiple years, exceed deadlines and have ballooning costs without providing any advantage over IBM i.
Modernizing your applications enables you to leverage your existing environment while investing as little - or as much - as you want to get the results you’re looking for.
Examples of modernization projects that deliver business value and can be accomplished in a short time frame include:
- Transforming green screens to web pages like Michell’s B2B online ordering eCommerce site
- Creating simple mobile applications like the one that Alfa Aesar created to allow customers to order products from PCs, tablets and smartphones
- Replacing paper based invoicing processes can all be implemented in days or weeks such as the implementation that a wholesale distributor underwent to provide employees, partners and customers secure access to digital invoices and other documents.
- Leveraging existing applications to deploy eCommerce sites like the one that Stafford Group launched in just a few weeks.
All of the above projects can be completed quickly and have a positive impact in your business.
Companies shared with us that they are looking for a trusted advisor - someone to help them with their modernization strategy and determine which projects will deliver the best value. They also mentioned one of their biggest challenges is that they don’t know how to get started. Some are even looking for the resources to help them get it done.
If you’re a Power Systems IBM i user looking for ways to modernize or want to learn about what options are available to you, reach out to your IBM Business Partner or IBM directly. You can also reach out to Fresche who can work with you and your IBM Business Partner to help plan your modernization strategy and determine which solutions will best meet your IT goals.
If you’re an IBM Business Partner looking to help your Power System clients, you may want to talk to Fresche about a new program they launched earlier this year. The Fresche Power Partner Program was created to help IBM Business Partners deliver roadmaps, modernization strategies, services, solutions and successful modernization projects to the IBM i community.
Bottom line? Your IBM i is a valuable asset and modernization can increase that value. It’s affordable and there is a strategy for everyone.
For more information you can reach us at:
VP World Wide Channels & IBM