Importance of Modernizing Legacy Applications in the Time of Crisis

February 24, 2021 Heidi Green, COO
Legacy System Modernization

During a podcast several months into the pandemic, StateScoop posed the question: "Will the pandemic allow CIOs to reinvent the future of government?"

 Long before the pandemic, tech-savvy state and local leaders saw the potential for digital transformations that would change the way government works. NASCIO's survey of CIO priorities for 2020 saw digital transformation at #2, just behind cybersecurity, and up from #4 in 2019. And for the very first time, "Innovation and Transformation Through Technology" made the top 10 signaling a desire for a more transformative government approach. The pandemic both expanded that thinking and accelerated execution - and it broke down some barriers in the process.  During the StateScoop podcast, Tracy Doaks, in her role as NC State CIO, said, "We've seen so many things that have changed the way we work, the way citizens access government, and the way that we work with agencies across the state and local government. I think instead of rolling back some of those changes that we should lean all the way into them…" 

And there is a good reason for leaning into the digital transformations accelerated by the pandemic. McKinsey and company have studied and documented significant return on investment - from increased operational efficiencies to improved customer satisfaction and employee engagement.

legacy systems Modernization - Mckinsey & Company Facts

Many government leaders recognize that legacy systems hamper their vision of digital transformation. In the 2019 NASCIO survey of State CIO Priorities for 2020, modernizing legacy applications ranked in the top 10. For many government organizations, legacy systems are a financial and technical obstacle to digital and, ultimately, government transformations. The applications running on these outdated legacy systems are inefficient, costly, and limit the organization's agility and flexibility. The pandemic and the government's need to work-from-home – in some cases literally overnight - helped to highlight the limitations of these outdated systems. Stay-at-home orders and social distancing have also dramatically increased reliance on systems of digital engagement, which become bogged down by the legacy systems in the background, further making the case that modernization of core IT systems is a vital piece of any digital transformation. In fact, the US federal government has drawn a direct link between legacy modernization, data security, and digital transformation when it comes to improved citizen service delivery.[1]

As Gartner's Legacy Modernization Survey highlighted, it's not just technical reasons that are driving the need for modernization. In their survey, government leaders cited business objectives rather than IT objectives as the top 5 reasons for modernization. They cited increasing operational efficiency, supporting organizational innovation, and improving service as the top 3 reasons for the change.

With so many surveys citing the reasons for modernization and the current pandemic driving a need to change how we work, the importance of legacy modernization to support digital transformation is being recognized across the enterprise in State and Local Government and increasingly linked to the outcomes of government programs and citizens want. Cross-organization collaboration between IT and Program leadership can set the vision and build roadmaps that address both modernization and transformation to support those important outcomes.

As Winston Churchill is credited with saying, "never waste a good crisis." Despite how it feels, this is an opportune time to address the transformation and modernization needs in government. Whether you are looking to modernize by adopting SaaS applications, the use of virtualization, or containerization, GCOM can help you achieve modernization objectives and digital engagement that will improve citizen service and reinvent the government's future.

February 24, 2021 Heidi Green, COO
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