infoTECH Feature

June 20, 2016

Legacy Codebases Got You Down? Key Considerations for Modernizing Web Development

By Special Guest
Todd Chusid, Practice Director of Corporate Applications and Data Solutions, Randstad Technologies

New web application frameworks such as AngularJs 2, React/Flux, ASP.NET (News - Alert) 5.0 and Spring Boot are hitting the market so fast; it’s hard to keep up. And that means organizations, especially those with large legacy codebases, must keep pace to understand the impact of these new technologies on the web development landscape. Unfortunately, an alarming number of companies have fallen behind, leaving them underequipped to create viable modernization strategies. There are a number of elements that you should consider when updating your organization’s web development frameworks, from how your specific industry impacts the pace of change to what influence modernizing will have on employees.

To Modernize or Not To Modernize 

Is Modernization Industry-Appropriate? When it comes to keeping up with web development, companies working in consumer-centric industries will always be at the forefront of change. The consumer e-commerce industry is all about converting consumers to a particular brand and converting that to a purchase. Certain apps that are keeping up with the pace of web development include content sharing apps like Pinterest, because it requires heavy interaction with the consumer. Other industries at the forefront of innovation include apps related to fitness, lifestyle, travel or retail.

But the decision to accelerate web development also depends on the specific company, the brand and its digital strategy. Before your company takes steps to modernize, you should ask yourself, “Do we want to be perceived as a proactive leader or a reactive follower in the marketplace?”

Most companies who want to be perceived as leaders will make the required investments and are the ones that are setting the pace for modernizing web development. Though few and far between, there are still companies in industries that don’t depend on a heavy web presence. If this is true for your company, a rapid modernization plan may not be necessary for you, but you still need a plan in place to ensure your web presence and content stays relevant.

Where does your company fall on the web development spectrum? If you ask any IT rep, he or she will always champion the latest advancements in technology as a necessary step for an organization to modernize. If you’re a decision maker, the biggest question to consider is, “How does this help our business, our brand and our customers?” Sure, a company may have redesigned its website, but has it optimized the site for conversion, user experience and analytics tracking? It all comes down to if your organization understands how much investment is needed to make the technology enhancements and what the business impact will be.

Looking at development from a digital maturity model, the end goal is optimizing cross channel integration with a 360 degree view of the customer. This is an organization that takes into account all available and meaningful information about the customer to drive better engagement, more revenue and long-term loyalty.

Since every company is aware of the importance of a mobile and web presence, no company is in the beginning stage of web development. Most organizations are in the middle of the spectrum; they’ve updated their website, and they know they have to do responsive design and have a mobile presence. But most companies haven’t yet achieved full digital integration yet because it’s extremely complex and requires a dedicated strategy coupled with strong leadership. Organizations cannot simply get there overnight.

How will modernization impact employees?

When it comes to employee retention and attracting new talent, modernization can be a double-edged sword. Migrating to the latest code base is a great way to attract new talent and demonstrate to employees that your organization is up to date on the latest and greatest trends. While such offerings may attract new talent, it’s then a question of how to keep that talent because the employees may want to market themselves to other potential employers. Your organization must walk a fine line between illustrating that it’s forward-thinking in its technology strategy while also giving employees a reason to stay.

It’s Time to Modernize: Now What?

Once your company has evaluated what’s causing a drag on your business, such as staff inefficiencies, processing errors, lost customers, inaccurate data, broken business processes, regulatory compliance warnings, or high IT maintenance costs, there are four key factors you should consider when evaluating new frameworks as part of your organization’s web modernization strategy.

  1. Migration Challenge: What are the challenges your organization could face when migrating? This could be cost related, it could be the consolidation of applications, it could be a change in business processes and it could relate to integration factors.
  2. IT Drivers: What is driving the migration from an IT perspective? Is it that your technology is going to become obsolete? Will the application modernization help the business intelligence strategy and data warehousing, and ultimately lead to more effective business management? You should consider if web development will accelerate time to market or reduce the cost and effort for deployment and the cost to maintain the applications.
  3. Business Drivers:  Does the modernization allow your applications to evolve as your business needs change? You need to evaluate how your applications can be more consumer centric. This could be hindered of course by regulatory compliance requirements from the SEC (News - Alert), Sarbanes Oxley, or Basel II, competitive and customer pressures to add function, performance and capacity, and budget constraints.
  4. Market: Finally, you need to examine the market landscape. How can you this improve your time-to-market with new products and services and provide you tighter integration with your partners and suppliers?

There are many components that companies today must address when it comes to achieving that nirvana state of complete digital cross channel integration. The major brands are one-two years away from realizing this state, while the rest will probably get there in three-five years. The most important thing to remember about web development is that it continues to be an adaptable, iterative and continuous process. Web development is not a one and done exercise that can just be checked off the list. It’s constantly evolving and every company’s strategy and leadership should evolve along with it.

About the Author

A senior executive with 20-plus years’ experience, Todd Chusid leads Randstad Technologies’ Mobile and Modern Web Practice. He has championed enterprise-level business technology solutions for Fortune 100 companies, and regularly leads C-level discussions on improving bottom line results through mobile and modern web solutions.

Edited by Peter Bernstein

Subscribe to InfoTECH Spotlight eNews

InfoTECH Spotlight eNews delivers the latest news impacting technology in the IT industry each week. Sign up to receive FREE breaking news today!
FREE eNewsletter

infoTECH Whitepapers