Enabling A Data-Driven IT Modernization Strategy

At a glance

The big picture: In the midst of a rush to technology modernization, it’s critical to ensure the organization’s data assets are not overlooked.

Why it matters: Data-driven business decisions must factor prominently in modernization efforts.

The bottom line: Don’t leave data behind. Excellent opportunities to save and make money, reduce risk and develop new models of business emerge when business, IT and data teams work together, identifying where the enterprise’s most valuable data assets reside.

Although most organizations want to modernize their technology, enable new capabilities and/or reduce their technical debt, any number of “Murphy’s Law” moments can defer those efforts. The rapid pace of technology advancement, new demand from internal stakeholders and customers alike, fast-moving competitors and end of legacy vendor support are driving companies to rethink those deferrals. With the ever-increasing customer demands for new products and services, technology modernization is now a constant and strategic focal point and business differentiator via the rapid enablement of modern capabilities.

Leaders familiar with their organization’s IT often know in their bones that some subset of the IT portfolio is crying out for modernization, but it’s hard to gain support for those efforts without a clear “do or die” requirement. It’s helpful, then, to evaluate the data that’s consumed, stored, moved and manipulated within the organization’s information technology. This will guide the investigation and decision around what IT assets may warrant modernization to allow the business to further save money, make money, reduce risk and develop new models of business leveraging that data.

In most companies, however, the data may be locked within disparate IT silos. While formulating their IT modernization strategies, they’d do well to regard data assets with business opportunities in mind. This is their chance to consider: what innovative capabilities can be unlocked from siloed data that could carry them into the future and how would understanding that inform technology modernization decisions?

Business opportunity is reason enough to modernize

This is but one example to illustrate how understanding the value of data has a role to play in technology modernization decisions.

  • An older bank, grown through acquisition, with one custom-built system supporting its real estate business, while another supports its insurance business.
  • Modernization wasn’t a priority for the systems that supported real estate or insurance.
  • Then, a clever team at the bank recognized the value of uniting the data from both systems: understanding which customers were buying real estate could create an opportunity to offer them insurance for their new properties.

For this bank, integrating the data to automate support for this cross-sell opportunity became reason enough to modernize both platforms. This analysis also highlighted the business criticality of these systems and that resilience should be a key requirement for the modernized platform. It also made all the data unlocked from both systems available for additional, even unforeseen uses. Not to be overlooked: both lines of business gained a resilient new technology platform.

Exposing and integrating data through system modernization can enable new capabilities and fuel innovations. Data also has a role to play in assessing the return on IT modernization investments.

When business, IT and data experts collaborate

Instead of considering only the age, stability, resilience or compliance status of IT assets, organizations can identify and prioritize their key business cases and the systems required to enable those business cases. They can identify data assets from disparate systems that will help them pursue new business opportunities or call attention to business-critical systems which should be made more resilient against disruption. They can factor data-driven business advantages into larger modernization schemes.

These achievements start with ongoing conversations among business, IT and data experts about what new opportunities could become available through modernizations of this kind. The effort calls for business, IT and data teams’ collaboration to establish a technology modernization strategy driven by new business possibilities and informed by the data. Largely, they identify opportunities revealed when data stores are open to one another. Organizations that have already established strong data governance practices will be well-positioned to take on this work.

Next, teams develop an understanding of what data supports the capabilities the business wants. Analysts in the business, for example, might point to a number of reports they’re currently using to populate a spreadsheet; data experts determine all sources for the data they’re using in their ad hoc analysis to identify the systems involved. Data lineage techniques help with this by delivering a complete picture of how data throughout the enterprise is consumed, stored, moved and manipulated by IT assets.

These steps identify the scope of data-driven modernization by targeting a subset of IT assets by the prioritized data that flows through them. Discovering and classifying key data assets, then modernizing the systems involved, drives new business opportunities. It also creates the ideal opening to address data criticality, sensitivity and ownership, and to apply security controls to systems that assure resiliency and compliance.

Saving money, making money, reducing risk

Don’t let “Murphy’s Law” moments derail achieving a data-driven modernization strategy. Excellent opportunities to save money, make money, reduce risk and develop new models of business emerge when business, IT and data teams work together to identify where the enterprise’s most valuable data assets reside, and to prioritize modernization of platforms that store and manipulate these assets. By unleashing data from disparate silos, leaders can identify and pursue new capabilities to grow the business.

Read the results of our new Global IT Executive Survey: The Innovation vs. Technical Debt Tug-of-War.

To learn more about our data and analytics consulting services, contact us.

Mark Carson

Managing Director
Enterprise Data and Analytics

Michael Smith

Managing Director
Technology Strategy and Architecture