When Organizations Halt or Walk Away from IT Modernization

IT and data directors from enterprises still have some questions about strategies to shake up their infrastructure with new technology and practices.

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer

March 9, 2020

4 Min Read
Image: wladimir1804 - AdobeStock

Discussions might be underway within organizations about modernizing their IT environments, yet many have halted or even abandoned some of these plans. That is one of the findings from a report conducted by IDG on the state of IT modernization, commissioned by Insight Enterprises.

The report gathered input from 200 respondents to the survey, which was conducted last December in the US. Respondents were required to at least hold the title of director and work in an IT, data, or security-related role for organizations with at least 2,500 employees.

Though some 67% of respondents indicated that IT modernization was core to the launch of their business transformation objectives, many organizations also admitted they put a stop to some of their plans last year.

At the time of the survey, just 25% of the respondents indicated their organizations met initial IT modernization objectives that had been mapped out. Those organizations that did achieve their goals reported they saw measurable improvements that included cost efficiency, quality of service, and availability.

The expected benefits of modernization were not enough to drive universal change. Though a notable majority of survey respondents said their organizations continued with their plans, 41% said their organizations delayed or abandoned at least some of the IT modernization initiatives they booked for 2019.

Those stalled plans came as a surprise to Steve Zipperman, general manager of cloud consulting services with the cloud and data center transformation division of Insight Enterprises. “I thought it would be lower,” he says. “I was really taken aback by that.”

Reasons given in the report for halted modernization efforts included competing priorities within the organization, a lack of a clear roadmap, and data privacy and security concerns. There was also a fair share of internal issues such as a lack of expertise or budget, poor preparation, and outmoded tools that held organizations back.

Slowness to modernize seems to fly in the face of warnings from other experts who previously declared that organizations must adapt or risk perishing. Zipperman says many customers have come to expect certain features and apps to be made available to them, for instance through their smartphones. Fear of lagging behind rivals and losing touch with such customers might not be enough to overcome certain tangible obstacles to modernization.

Internal confusion can drive some organizations to pump the brakes on their plans, Zipperman says. “They don’t know where to start because they have all of these messages coming at them,” he says. For instance, organizations might invest in applications but not also invest to keep the underlying technology abreast of those innovations. That can leave organizations backed into a corner with questions about how to proceed forward, Zipperman says. They might not know if they should first optimize the network, focus on authentication, or fix active directory.

When modernization plans get put on hold, Zipperman says it may be inevitable for technical debt to pile up and then finally come due. “The piper gets paid eventually,” he says. “You can only sweat those assets and delay these things for so long.”

External and internal pressures to modernize can become impossible to resist as time passes, Zipperman says. For example, app developers may want a public cloud experience, he says, but their CIOs might not be able to deliver it. The more they sweat assets, he says, such as servers, stores, and networks without making needed progress, the likelihood increases that application users will look elsewhere. “CIOs and executives got to pay for that technical debt eventually,” Zipperman says. “The longer you wait, the more complex it gets.”

That complexity may include dealing with migration, network updates, compulsory changes to backups, re-platforming all the apps. The key first step, he says, is to develop a clear business case to move forward. “You don’t have to solve everything,” Zipperman says. “Have a plan; it all needs to tie back to some ROI or TCO (total cost of ownership).”


Follow up with these stories for additional perspectives on IT modernization:

Adapt or Perish: Why Modernize IT Operations

Your Cloud and Data Management Strategies are About to Collide

Enterprise Guide to Digital Transformation

How to Market IT Modernization to Your Business

About the Author(s)

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth

Senior Writer

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth has spent his career immersed in business and technology journalism first covering local industries in New Jersey, later as the New York editor for Xconomy delving into the city's tech startup community, and then as a freelancer for such outlets as TheStreet, Investopedia, and Street Fight. Joao-Pierre earned his bachelor's in English from Rutgers University. Follow him on Twitter: @jpruth.

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