Digital Transformation Must Start at the Core

Over the past decade, there has been a wave of digital disruption with new, born-digital challengers compelling traditional incumbents to find and harness new ways of delivering great customer experiences in order to survive the new competition. While superior customer experience is an important marker of successful digital transformation for any enterprise, this approach can only be sustained if the organization’s underlying infrastructure is equipped to handle the demands of these customer-centric initiatives.

Organizations need to focus on modernizing their monolithic legacy infrastructure and reimagining their business processes. However, the volume of change required often discourages companies to make large investments in new technologies or make changes in the organizational culture. Through our work with clients, we have found that by adopting an approach that uses lean processes, Agile development, and a global delivery model, we can ease the digital journeys of our clients considerably.

Energizing the Core

Organizations cannot easily shrug off their extensive investments in legacy infrastructure. But these legacy systems cannot talk to newer systems that leverage cutting edge technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, AR/VR, big data, real time analytics, IOT and blockchain. We cannot bring modernization by merely buying and implementing digital solutions.

The digital transformation strategy of any enterprise typically includes renewal of existing systems with new cloud computing capabilities, migration of existing enterprise workloads to the cloud, adoption of platform-led modular architecture built on open source software for application modernization and maintenance, and creation of pathways for microservices and APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). By choosing business priorities wisely and modernizing the core in phases with a systematic plan in place, organizations can successfully navigate their digital journeys.

The Infosys approach to energizing the core includes:

Cloud and Infrastructure: The cloud is a major enabler of core modernization as it helps to overcome the lack of agility of legacy systems. Adopting cloud technology is not as simple as lifting existing systems and shifting them to the cloud. The first step is to make them cloud-capable. The next step is to get them to work seamlessly with newer technologies, applications and intelligent front-ends. And throughout the journey, the organization needs to take many decisions like which type of cloud to use, which core assets to renew, what processes to re-engineer, and so on.

At Infosys, we help the client with a systematic plan to:

  • Identify the non-core aspects of the legacy landscape and make them cloud-ready
  • Decouple the evolution of front-ends and back-ends with API-microservices, thus allowing for continuous renewal of the front, without disrupting the core
  • Move from a product-centric landscape which is dominated by systems of record to a platform-led environment which support systems of innovation
  • Transform to a software-driven enterprise where the ERP core runs with cloud-efficiencies and is augmented with next-gen digital capabilities to drive better business outcomes

We have worked closely with enterprises that have large ERP and legacy landscapes, developing a digital enterprise transformation strategy and helping them first simplify their core and run it with digital efficiencies - whether it’s spotting opportunities fast, re-engineering processes to respond more spontaneously, reducing cycle times, or delivering new experiences on demand, often by creating new business models.

Some of our differentiators in strategic cloud offerings are:

  • We are moving towards cloud-based intelligent systems that can “self-drive” businesses, helping enterprises develop a digital transformation strategy to transform their systems of record to systems of intelligence
  • Our deep understanding of various business verticals has enabled us to build robust industry reference models and transformation blueprints that can be customized to client contexts
  • We have a powerful suite of tools, accelerators, and solutions that run in various ERP environments to help clients jumpstart and accelerate their digital transformation without significant disruption to their businesses
  • We have a strong relationship with our business partners and understand their product roadmaps well enough to help recommend the right solutions to drive our clients’ transformation agenda

Integrated and Modular Platforms: A critical step towards modernization includes moving monolithic, silo-based ERP systems into platform-led, lightly tied components built on open source software. We are also seeing a trend towards modular platforms that are versatile, scalable and simple. These platforms are not only easier to code, but they usually have open standards, which makes integration with third party software simpler.

We transformed the three and a half decades old mainframe system based on proprietary technology for an Asian bank into a loosely coupled, extensible architecture. Early indications are very encouraging and point to a 30 percent reduction in loan processing time, as well as noticeable improvement in customer experience.

Modernizing Applications: As I said before, superior customer experience is an important outcome for digital transformation efforts. Therefore, building intuitive, responsive, connected, real-time and device-agnostic applications and upgrading UX interfaces for both new and existing applications is essential.

Additionally, creating pathways for APIs in the legacy systems to create microservices can allow the organization to share data both internally, and externally with its ecosystem, making it more amenable to digital transformation.

One of our clients, a direct seller of personal care products, is a case in point. The company put together a sound API management strategy and robust microservices architecture that now supports a new website and a social selling platform featuring more than 230 applications that serves markets in more than a hundred countries.

At Infosys, mobile first solutions drive all our critical business, learning and collaboration processes.

Infusing AI and Automation: Robotics and machine learning are the biggest levers we have to increase automation in IT infrastructure, especially once it has migrated to the cloud. All the leading cloud platform providers offer a variety of AI functionalities and services including machine learning platforms and other AI cloud services. Nia, our next-generation integrated AI platform and AssistEdge, an automation processes software, are indicative of our own efforts in this direction.

A non-disruptive, phased approach to core modernization is one of the most effective ways to improve existing operations and reimagine the business of incumbent organizations. The main aim is to renew and optimize the existing technology infrastructure to generate savings that may then be ploughed into next-generation digital capabilities. Deep digital and domain skills, ability to identify technical debt and weakness, as well as the use of modern software development processes, such as DevOps and Agile, can help ensure a smooth transition. A well-thought out approach that focuses on energizing the core infrastructure rather than just skin-deep changes at the customer service layer is imperative for success.