The complete guide to IT modernization in 2022

WalkMe Team
By WalkMe Team
Updated May 2, 2023

There is no denying that the world is racing headlong into the next normal and a digital-first culture that shows no signs of slowing down. Businesses are moving away from clunky legacy systems and adopting new, innovative technologies to have a fighting chance in the technological rat race.

The truth is that nobody could have predicted the massive switch to digital that we’ve seen take place over the last decade. The rate at which global digital adoption has taken place has shocked even the hardest of techies and goes to show how fast the industry is moving. 

To stay ahead of the game, businesses need to think strategically and carefully implement IT transformation frameworks into their overarching business strategies. These policies should work in unison with digital transformation strategies to disrupt business practices and move outdated business processes into the digital sphere.

Automation platforms, artificial intelligence (AI), and robotic process automation (RPA) are all being utilized by businesses that recognize the benefits of investing in new and innovative tech. The long-term functional advantages of IT modernization are unparalleled. Keeping up to date and invested in the latest tech is a surefire way to future-proof your business against the ever-evolving—and often volatile—technology market.  

In this definitive guide, we will teach you how IT modernization can digitally transform every aspect of your business. We will go over the burgeoning technology ecosystem and supply you with the tools you need to effectively disrupt internal and external processes, taking your business to the next level.

Successful IT modernization projects don’t come cheap and require effective planning, strategy, and a degree of measurable implementation that’s autonomous and independent to truly provide long-term digital benefits. But, when businesses get things right, they can expect next-level productivity, an enriched customer experience, and an overall boost to employee satisfaction. 

We will also teach you essential foundational knowledge that’ll help you identify and evaluate key considerations for your own personalized IT modernization journey. We’ll develop your skills and knowledge base so that you can easily identify the exact IT building blocks that need to be upgraded. Finally, we’ll show you the value change management provides during digital transformation and demonstrate how to circumvent complex technical challenges in the face of adversity. 

What is IT modernization? 

IT modernization is a broad term that details the efforts an organization undertake to adapt, adopt, or upgrade its current technology and processes. IT modernization projects are crucial for businesses that want to achieve digital transformation goals. They bring with them an opportunity to dissect outdated business processes and apply innovative technological solutions. 

The specifics of IT modernization projects are generally related to an organization’s industry, budget, market, customer expectations, and employee needs. Because IT modernization projects work in tandem with digital transformation, it’s important to gauge the specific stage of digital development to effectively modernize your organization.

In a nutshell, IT modernization projects concern an organization-wide determination to switch away from old mundane technologies and replace them with innovative tools that streamline, simplify, and automate crucial processes that keep the business going. 

IT modernization is a necessary component for businesses that wish to survive and thrive in the era of the new economy. This means that organizations need to meticulously plan, design, and structure modernization policies in line with current needs and future goals.

When IT modernization projects aren’t managed correctly, they can create serious financial implications that hurt businesses’ long-term strategic objectives and their bottom line. When digital disruption occurs it’s usually positive, but when vital processes are disturbed without a contingency plan in place, it can cause serious problems and even harm a company’s reputation and business integrity. 

The core areas of IT modernization 

It’s important to remember that IT modernization affects many different areas of the IT ecosystem. Everything from network solutions to end-user devices and storage infrastructure are all crucial areas of IT that need to be evaluated and monitored.

In the following sections, we will discuss some of the ways that businesses can enhance operational capacity, customer satisfaction, and the employee experience. Understanding the crucial processes behind these practices enables businesses to upgrade technologies using an outcomes-based approach that delivers future-proof results. 

Everything you need to know about infrastructure modernization 

One of the most crucial elements of IT transformation and modernization is upgrading infrastructure. Put simply, IT infrastructure is the core aspect of vital operating environments that store data, applications, tools, and resources. Nevertheless, modernizing IT infrastructure isn’t as simple as replacing on-premises servers with a cloud-based environment. Here’s why. 

Modifying and adjusting hardware to meet fresh business needs mandates identifiable approaches and platforms that best suit workloads, compliance needs, security requirements, and budget constraints. This means that businesses need to take an evaluated approach and consider what processes are better suited online versus those that should be left on-premises. 

That being said, in the early stages of IT modernization, most businesses opted for a hybrid approach that incorporated the use of both public and private clouds and on-site infrastructure. 

IT infrastructure modernization is one of the biggest feats a business will take on and it’s a key step in delivering vital digital transformation initiatives. Upgrades to infrastructure are integral to adopting solutions that merge with the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), business process automation (BPA), robotic process automation (RPA), and edge computing.

The above-mentioned technologies help businesses to grow and expand their offerings, visibility, the value of data, and automation potential. This enables focused, data-driven decision-making to take place, which encourages businesses to venture into new, unexplored territory. 

Everything you need to know about data center migration 

One of the most talked-about topics when it comes to IT modernization is data center migration. Migration efforts can, and do, involve cloud adoption, but it’s also important to realize that traditional, on-premises storage can be replaced and rebuilt using better, more productive, and high-performing alternatives that enhance ongoing business objectives.  

Some of these platforms include: 

  • Converged Infrastructure (CI) – A converged infrastructure is simply a system that allows storage, networks, and computation to take place in a single compressed system. When specific fractions of IT infrastructure are synthesized in this way, it enables the owners to streamline management processes and increase dexterity.

The use of converged infrastructure systems makes infrastructure more manageable and easier to scale. Converged infrastructure is also easier to repair than models that separate storage from vital networks and computers.  

  • Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) – Hyper-converged infrastructure works by merging multiple systems for efficiency, centralization, and scalability. The main difference between (CI) and (HCI) is that the latter is built and optimized for much smaller workloads that require less input.  
  • Conventional Data Centers – There may be any number of reasons why organizations want to keep valuable data on-premises. The main reasons tend to be security, safety, and protection. Keeping existing hardware up to date and efficient is the best way to secure valuable data and keep data breaches to a minimum. Regularly upgrading on-site hardware also enables businesses to run more efficient workloads and boost agility.

The steps needed to facilitate successful data center modernization: 

  1. Adopt a workload-first approach.
  2. Develop a manageable and logical strategy.
  3. Confirm stakeholders are kept in the loop with any potential upgrades.
  4. Have a contingency plan in place to minimize the impact of unforeseen circumstances or threats.

What is network modernization?

It’s not surprising that legacy enterprise networks lack the agility and dexterity to fulfill the needs of modern, fast-paced businesses. The ever-evolving landscape has an emphasis on digital-first processes and includes transitions to innovation-led solutions such as software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WAN).

However, these transitions can be difficult and time-consuming if connectivity solutions aren’t put in place to simplify and streamline your network environment. 

Modern networks offer a whole host of benefits that include: 

  • Automated management and orchestration.
  • Expanded visibility to bolster security.
  • Stronger connections between distributed sites.
  • Dependable access to applications that drive productivity.

The above benefits are particularly important for large organizations or businesses that are planning to adopt flexible or hybrid workforce approaches. Single location businesses have far fewer network needs than businesses that emphasize remote or hybrid working models.

Evaluating what needs to be modernized and to what capacity is a strategic business decision that should be approached cross-departmentally to gauge the most effective results. 

What is application modernization? 

It’s no secret that useful applications can help to establish, build, and solidify connections amongst both employee and customer bases. Increased engagement is wonderful, but it becomes more of a challenge when businesses try to maintain, support, and scale apps as they grow, age, and inevitably become defunct.

These management barriers lead to frustratingly low-quality user experiences that confound customer interactions and limit internal employee collaboration. This is particularly applicable to younger generations who have become accustomed to seamlessly integrated tech. 

When crucial applications that see daily use receive a modernized overhaul, businesses can finally solve legacy application issues as well as make the shift to cloud-based, data-driven platforms that are created with coordination and scalability in mind.

Modern systems that enable one another based on principles of composability are being utilized by businesses who want wiggle room to grow, change, and scale. Application modernization protocols make it easier for businesses to deliver memorable, customer-centric experiences whilst maintaining customer numbers and focusing on building internal talent. Once applications have been modernized and future-proofed, it negates the need to make such costly changes down the line. 

What is device modernization? 

Productivity and collaborative applications use devices that majorly impact employee experience. For example, if end-user hardware is underperforming, buggy, reaching its end of life, or is failing to adapt to hybrid working models, then it might be time for a device refresh. 

While new devices can be finicky and take time to learn, the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. Proper device modernization enables businesses to significantly boost performance, mobility, and productivity whilst keeping core hybrid teams engaged, committed, and immersed. 

Limitless devices, complex configurations, and regional hardware have proven to be a major pain point for businesses implementing device modernization strategies. One method of combating this problem is by employing a choose your own device (CYOD) approach, which puts the power back into the hands of the employees by enabling them to choose from a pre-approved list of hardware. This approach drastically increases flexibility whilst allowing the IT department certain management controls over hardware systems. 

What is lifecycle modernization? 

If you thought that IT modernization was limited to upgrading platforms and hardware then think again. A major mistake that businesses make during the early rollouts of modernization policies is not incorporating lifecycle modernization. It’s as important to reshape internal operational processes as it is to implement change to hardware and software. The IT lifecycle sets out key exercises for keeping endpoints as functional as possible and qualified to meet constantly shifting changing business requirements. 

Streamlining, facilitating, and simplifying these processes is are key features of IT modernization. They help to enhance digital transformation efforts and secure resources by optimizing and shifting business priorities using data-driven techniques. 

The hardware lifecycle 

The hardware lifecycle represents a holistic, interconnected approach to managing IT hardware and devices. It enables businesses to evaluate, analyze, and measure the projected lifetime of a piece of hardware and gauge its effectiveness.

Servers, for example, have a five-year life span of optimal performance. After this time the server will still be operational but will be subject to faults and deficiencies. This can prove problematic for digital-first businesses that conduct the majority of their work in the online space. They need to have fully-functional, accessible servers around the clock to operate effectively. 

Businesses can use the hardware lifecycle to identify and map out a recurrent journey that includes the following stages: 

  • Planning 

This is the phase that IT leaders use to examine, evaluate, and analyze the current state of the hardware lifecycle. Effective planning means that the hardware lifecycle is incorporated into future objectives, forming a synergistic strategy that blends the two together.  

  • Procurement 

This phase describes the process that a business must go through to purchase products, devices, components, and hardware. Procurement processes can be easily improved by partnering up with providers that offer flexibility, dexterity, and autonomous self-service tools that streamline areas such as warehousing, leasing, and financing. 

  • Configuring 

The next stage is configuration. Once new hardware has been purchased it needs to be provisioned through asset tagging, staging, knitting, and imaging. This stage focuses on how to manage the various hardware components that affect overall system functionality and performance. 

  • Deployment 

Once hardware components have been properly provisioned, they are passed on to end-users who have the option to either self-install or have the overarching IT team take care of it. This provides hybrid workers with several installation options such as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and cloud-based deployment which help to streamline sometimes complicated processes, especially for remote workers. 

  • Management & Maintenance 

When teams start to engage with new devices, they will inevitably run into barriers along the way. Having a physical repair and maintenance policy helps businesses to quickly get employees back on track when hardware breaks down. Using modern approaches that accelerate productivity and minimize wasted time is the foundation to successful hardware management.  

  • End-of-Life 

Businesses know that hardware doesn’t last forever. There comes a point in every hardware lifecycle where components become outdated and unusable. Businesses can use end-of-life policies to ensure effective recycling practices that allow for the disposal of devices without compromising data security or the environment. 

What is security modernization? 

One of the central concerns regarding IT modernization is the increased risk of data breaches and cybersecurity attacks that come with upgrading and overhauling security protocols. CIOs and other executives have long feared the introduction of new technologies because of the increased cybersecurity risks associated with them.

In recent years, however, cloud-based security policies have been put in place that utilize encryption technology and applications to protect virtualized IP, data, services, and associated cloud infrastructure.

Cloud security enables businesses to divert traffic to the cloud instead of being directly routed to servers. The hybrid cloud then examines and analyzes traffic, only allowing legitimate users to gain access. If the cloud doesn’t approve traffic, it will block access to the server. These innovations in cloud-based security have opened up the market for large numbers of businesses to effectively modernize their security protocols.

Innovative technologies such as cloud security have revolutionized the tech industry and are proving to be easier to manage and maintain than outdated legacy systems that have security gaps and require a fragmented approach to threat defense. 

IT modernization strategies should coincide with compliance regulations and security protocols for digital transformation to truly drive progress towards a centralized, manageable, and assertive attitude towards cyber threats. 

What is modern IT management? 

Although IT modernization reduces long-term complications, it also requires an assortment of management solutions for ever-evolving devices, applications, infrastructure, and users. Much like eclectic cybersecurity strategies, digital transformation initiatives that incorporate management processes open up a world of tools and approaches that are more centralized and simplified. 

Data management is an area of particular importance as businesses develop, grow, and evolve to meet the ever-changing demands and pressures associated with the digital economy. 

Businesses that enhance control and visibility over vital data are crucial to optimizing processes, strengthening compliance, and adapting to customer-centric expectations. IT management is particularly important to businesses who adopt innovations to widen information pools such as the internet of things (IoT), cyber security, and cloud computing. 

Modern IT management solutions and practices enable businesses to store, manage, and analyze valuable data from numerous sources to effectively and efficiently build protocols that are more secure, defensible, and stable. 

Challenges of IT modernization

In the age of digital-first, businesses must recognize the challenges that come with IT modernization. The needs of digital-based businesses are expanding quicker than expected, with exhausted IT departments often juggling considerable competing projects.

Long-term digital transformation strategies sometimes take a back seat to what are seen as more pressing needs. It’s important to factor in long-term transformation requirements into overarching modernization plans so that processes remain robust and efficient as they are disrupted. 

Another major challenge of IT modernization is managing cloud sprawl. Multiple applications and cloud services are proving difficult for CIOs to get to grips with. The growing number of complex services are proving to be a hindrance for businesses that want to simplify processes, reduce costs, and increase security.

According to a report published by McKinsey, companies estimate that 30% of their outlays on cloud spending are wasted. Many C-level executives and IT leaders have expressed frustration in ever-expanding cloud services that are growing beyond their control. This means that inventive solutions need to be capitalized upon in order for IT modernization to have its desired effect. 

Outcomes of IT modernization 

IT modernization is one of the most cumbersome undertakings any business will face in the age of digital-first. Much like digital transformation, IT modernization is an imperative process that secures a lasting future-proof capability and long-term digital success. When businesses adopt innovative technologies across IT infrastructure, it disrupts business practices and accelerates workloads by establishing a foundational system that incorporates data management, streamlined processes, and automated tasks. 

When businesses upgrade, reform, and enhance devices, applications, and networks it facilitates better employee and customer-centric experiences. This then drives brand loyalty, increases productivity, and decreases staff turnover. Proper IT modernization mandates patience, resources, and the expertise of cross-functional teams to deliver future-proof strategies that stave off legacy code and take advantage of new and innovative technologies. 

Rearchitecting legacy applications gives businesses the chance to enhance flexibility and agility whilst important business requirements and growth opportunities are maximized. It relies on intelligent strategies that challenge, question, and disrupt vital processes to push businesses into new and innovative spaces.

WalkMe Team
By WalkMe Team
WalkMe pioneered the Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) for organizations to utilize the full potential of their digital assets. Using artificial intelligence, machine learning and contextual guidance, WalkMe adds a dynamic user interface layer to raise the digital literacy of all users.