Putting the customer at the heart of operations

In today’s hyper-competitive global economy, delighting the customer has taken centre stage. And it’s easy to see why. Organisations that are winning are those that have perfected the customer experience, while those grasping for market share have fallen short in this area.

A crucial step for companies can be modernising legacy IT infrastructure to meet increasingly sophisticated technology demands to succeed in today’s hyper-competitive market.

A changing market landscape

This renewed focus on the customer owes much to advances in technology, access to which is changing all aspects of business – shaping growth, lowering the barriers to entry to new markets, and enabling the development of new business models and services.

>See also: Legacy infrastructure hindering digital transformation of supply chain

The net result is unprecedented levels of disruption and competition, putting new power in the hands of the customer. If customers don’t like the service they receive, they will simply vote with their check books.

Witness the current trailblazers of the new application driven economy – companies like Uber, Airbnb, Netflix and Amazon. They each cater to very different buyers and have different needs, but they have successfully and drastically disrupted markets. And they’ve done so by using technology that puts the customer experience at the heart of their operations.

But it’s important to note that it’s not just the new players that are constantly transforming their operations to become more customer-centric; more established organizations are reengineering their business models to better serve the needs of their customers and enable them to consume their services in ways desired.

However, the path to becoming more customer-centric for established businesses is not without its challenges, and legacy technology presents a major stumbling block.

The legacy problem

Increasingly, technology and how well it performs is the key determinant of a business’s success or failure, and business leaders have taken note. Take Delta Airlines for example.

>See also: Propelling legacy systems into real time

Following a technical glitch at the airline last August that led to 2,300 flight cancellations, frustrated passengers, and a nosedive in profit forecasts, its CFO, Paul Jacobson, said that it was as much of a “technology company… as an industrial transportation company,” and needed to act as such.

That kind of statement several years ago would have been unheard of, but we’ve seen similar statements made from organizations of all sectors, from finance and manufacturing to retail and charity. Every business is a software business and depends upon technology to succeed, even if some business leaders haven’t quite worked that out yet.

The Delta case is an interesting one and one with which many IT leaders will be able to sympathize. The root cause of the airline’s troubles? Legacy IT – a 22-year-old piece of equipment that caught fire and knocked out its backups system. And while it is an extreme example of the havoc that legacy IT can wreak, CIOs battle with these types of situations on a daily basis.

CIOs across the board are trying to reduce costs while delivering more value and a better experience for their customers, but despite their best intentions, many transformation efforts are being stymied by legacy IT.

Research by Forrester found that, on average, IT leaders spent almost three quarters (72 percent) of their budgets simply keeping the lights on, leaving few resources to put toward new initiatives.

>See also: Legacy technology holds back companies keen for digital transformation

Fragmented IT infrastructures, consisting of a mixture of old mainframes, databases, languages and servers, are all too common, increasingly costly and difficult to maintain, and put the brakes on innovation. How can you focus on the customer experience when most of your time and resources are being spent on keeping things up and running?

Inflexible and burdensome service contracts are a further issue. In uncertain times, it’s important that CIOs have the freedom to react to changing market conditions, flexing services up and down as required.

But, increasingly, it’s clear that the services offered by some of the incumbent large IT providers aren’t compatible with the new ways of working, with many organisations forced to pay more for services and licenses they don’t even need.

The way forward

In this new customer-centric world, agility and flexibility are the orders of the day, and finding a way to embed these attributes into an organisation’s technology should be a priority.

>See also: Legacy systems: the next financial crisis?

With the move toward digital transformation, there is a growing realisation that it can only be achieved by accelerating the delivery of infrastructure and application services. In many cases, that means near total data centre refreshes. It is the only way to embrace agile deployment models for rapid time to market and eliminate IT bottlenecks.

What better time to consider not just the hardware lying around the data centre – consuming vast amounts of space and power – but also the total cost of ownership in relation to your company’s software applications? And there is no better place to take a forensic look at the total cost of ownership than by starting with your legacy mainframe.


Sourced by Carl Davies, UK CEO at TmaxSoft


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...