Infrastructure

Understanding strategic enterprise modernization

With strategic enterprise modernization, you can keep your organization moving faster, safer, and more nimbly, while also shifting focus to prioritize innovation and continuous improvement.

Future-proofing for scalable growth

Organizations of all sizes are looking to the future and transforming their culture, processes, and tools in order to meet the increasing demands of both internal and external customers, remain competitive in their markets, and grow in a scalable, sustainable way. Technology is a key factor in this future planning.

Enterprises are striving to modernize their legacy infrastructure and increase efficiency throughout their organization. This is a collective effort that necessitates the involvement of multiple departments. With the support of key stakeholders, companies can upgrade their technology and adopt a modern infrastructure. This long-term, forward-thinking approach is known as Strategic Enterprise Modernization (SEM). We will discuss SEM in more detail in this article.

Defining strategic enterprise modernization

Strategic enterprise modernization is a holistic, long-term strategy and mindset for optimizing your organization’s culture, processes, and tools for the future. It involves reimagining, upgrading, or replacing inefficient legacy infrastructure and processes to make business operations faster and more cost-effective. It helps your organization be more nimble and adapt to changing (and often rising) expectations in a more agile, efficient way. And, importantly, it ensures that your technologies operate in a flexible, integrated ecosystem that is both reliable and easy to manage.

An integrated tech stack, supported by efficient processes and a culture of continuous improvement, helps your organization stay ahead of the competition and better future-proof your operations—all while freeing up additional resources to focus on innovation. With faster, more integrated workflows, human time can be spent on higher-value activities rather than time-consuming upgrades or maintenance.

Technology drives productivity, and organizations are looking to modernize and optimize their tech stacks to prepare for their future states. As with most enterprise-wide initiatives, this cannot be done in a silo and requires a thorough understanding of business goals, both short and long-term. Tying these initiatives to organizational value drivers and key business goals helps keep everyone across the business aligned to a shared vision.

With strategic enterprise modernization, you can keep your organization moving faster, safer, and more nimbly, while also shifting focus to prioritize innovation and continuous improvement.

Elements of strategic enterprise modernization

Because strategic enterprise modernization is organization-wide, it’s important to consider all facets when embarking on your journey. You can break your enterprise modernization journey down into three parts: technology and tools, processes, and culture. Each individual pillar is important on its own, but it’s equally important that they work together to create a fully streamlined enterprise environment.

Technology and tools

Your technology plays a key role in driving efficiency and productivity. For this reason, and many others we’ll discuss later, it’s a good idea to start your SEM journey by taking a look at your technological environment. Modernizing and streamlining your technology assets and ensuring they’re being optimally used is a key part of becoming a modern enterprise. With a tech stack that operates well as individual assets, but also as an entire ecosystem, your business can position itself for scalable growth and better plan for the future.

Because systems and applications power your business, if they aren’t being used to their maximum potential, this can be a hindrance to both productivity and overall experience. Consider modernizing your applications and consolidating redundancies to move faster, and adopt best practices for managing these systems to ensure they aren’t left behind. We’ll break down some of these best practices here.

  • Focus on integration: Your technology assets need to have interfaces to one another, both system-to-system and system-to-user. Build out a robust integration ecosystem—this allows for more streamlined operations.
  • Monitor your ecosystem: Enterprise integration ecosystems can be difficult to maintain. If one system upgrades or breaks, this can impact other technologies and users themselves, so ensuring proper monitoring is critical. In addition to the benefit of reliability, monitoring on an ongoing basis also allows you to evaluate the utilization of the tools being deployed and can drive many organizations toward technology reduction or retirement plans.
  • Automate: Because system monitoring can be time-consuming and expensive, look to automation to offset costs. With automated systems maintenance taking care of day-to-day management, your teams will be better able to respond to issues faster, bringing efficiencies in both human time and money. This can also offset some of the costs that you may have incurred building out your technology ecosystem in the first place. Additionally, as enterprise IT modernization efforts further unify and standardize your overall technology stack, the viability of automating more workloads will increase (automations that can be applied more widely across the organization lead to quicker cost justification and lower overall long-term support costs).
  • Prioritize security: The growing cybersecurity threat landscape makes legacy systems increasingly dangerous. Modernizing your technology to keep pace with cybersecurity best practices can protect your organization and your employees.
  • Be flexible: As with any modern infrastructure, flexibility is key. Being able to adapt to changes in your environment and evolving business needs will keep your operations running smoothly, and your integrated tech stack can support this.

Building and maintaining a robust, integrated technology infrastructure is an important step in your strategic enterprise modernization journey. Knowing what your technology does, what purpose it serves, and how it works alongside other tech and users is a major value driver for your organization—it leads to improved efficiencies across the board.

Processes

SEM is a holistic, long-term mindset, meaning it goes beyond simply upgrading to the latest tools. Just as it’s critical to leverage best practices for your technology assets, it’s also critical to develop and enforce processes to drive the most value from this technology. Your integrated, modern tech suite is only as good as its relevance to your enterprise—this is where process becomes paramount to success.

There are different elements to process optimization, and they span across the business. As it relates to SEM, some of the most important process considerations are explored below.

  • Incident response: Developing and documenting processes for incident response means you’ll spend less time responding to issues on a case-by-case basis. Teams should have a solid understanding of the different roles involved, where to escalate as needed, and what steps to follow as incidents arise. This defines who to hold accountable and ensures consistency in response plans as well.
  • Knowledge management: Documenting use cases, best practices, and workflows encourages knowledge sharing across teams and allows for greater visibility into your operations.
  • Training and upskilling: Creating, documenting, and disseminating organizational policies for new hire training means everyone is trained fairly and equally, and it ensures that employees are equipped with the knowledge they need to work at their best. Similarly, building a process for upskilling resources helps your talent keep up with emerging technologies and reduces turnover.
  • Collaboration and feedback: Building feedback and open communication into all of your processes encourages collaboration across all levels of the enterprise, encouraging innovation and identifying areas for continuous improvement.
  • Reassessment: Consistently reassessing your workflows and productivity keeps advancement top of mind—integrate this into all of your processes to identify areas for improvement or growth. Similarly, engage finance teams to reassess hard costs as appropriate. This keeps all key stakeholders engaged and encourages collaboration across the organization.

Reevaluating existing processes and developing new ones to support your modern enterprise will help you drive the most value from your enterprise IT modernization strategy. Processes also enforce shared values and goals, driving the idea that enterprise modernization is not a single project, but an institutional infrastructure.

Culture

Both technology and processes contribute to another critical SEM element— culture. Having a best-in-class technology suite and reliable, documented processes is valuable, but you can only make the most of it when your people are bought in and eager to embrace your mission. Creating and nurturing a forward-thinking, collaborative culture focused on continuous improvement is not something that happens quickly, but the shift will be noticeable and felt across the business as your modernization journey continues.

Ensuring you have the right talent in place to support your technology is a key element in building your culture. Whether that involves recruiting new talent, upskilling existing talent, or a combination of both, finding the right people to do the job is a major value driver. It is not enough to simply have the best technical resources on the market – your team also has to be able to communicate clearly across all levels of the organization to ensure that all stakeholders understand directions and decisions without listening to technical jargon. And once the right people are in place, create a culture that encourages them to work at their best.

It’s one thing to talk about values and culture, but it’s entirely different to truly embody them and work them into the fabric of your business. This is where technologies, tools, and processes come into play, as they should reflect your goals and values and provide everyone an opportunity to buy in.

All of these elements—tech and tools, processes, and culture—work together and are critical elements of the SEM journey. You can’t have one without the others, as they all contribute to the framework for success.

Where SEM makes an impact

It may be easy to think that modernization only impacts tech teams, and while it does, the impact doesn’t stop there. Across the business, you’ll feel the effects of faster workflows, improved morale, and a better overall experience for both employees and customers. Ultimately, if your organization is striving toward an improved user experience/customer experience (UX/CX) roadmap, SEM is likely the engine that will get you to the end of the road.

Tech teams will feel the impact of SEM in faster, more efficient workflows. They’ll spend less time on mundane, repetitive tasks or fixing minor issues that turn into lengthy projects. And, importantly, they’ll be operating in a more secure environment protected from cyber threats. As such, they can operate in a more strategic, intentional, and careful manner than before.

A modernized technology suite helps your business be more proactive and predictive about data, which helps set more reasonable, achievable expectations and allows for more robust reporting and visibility. IT teams can then communicate more easily with internal business partners about what to expect, when, and in what capacity. This allows for better collaboration and eases points of tension that may have existed prior.

On a larger scale, your internal processes will also improve, making your employees not only more productive, but happier as well. Without frustrating, cumbersome legacy processes, employees can work faster and more collaboratively without spending as much time on administrative tasks or disjointed processes. A modern enterprise also allows for more dynamic ways to meet employees where they are when it comes to support. Offering multiple channels to receive support not only helps IT teams work more efficiently (and affordably), but it also helps their end users too. With less disruption and more robust support, your employees can work at their best and avoid burnout.

When your organization works faster and more nimbly, your customers feel it. With employees happier and more productive, your customers will receive better support and a better product or service. You’re better equipped to adapt to changing, or rising, expectations. And when you have access to better, more reliable data, you can manage your customer’s expectations and establish yourself as a trusted partner.

A modern enterprise allows you to focus on innovating, improving, and better supporting your employees and customers — all without incurring additional costs. With the time savings that come with working faster and more efficiently, you have more time to focus on high-value activities—and this brings benefits across the board.

Getting started on your modernization journey

Adopting a SEM mindset may seem like a faraway ideal, but as with most business transformations, it’s iterative and long-term. As such, you can get started by understanding the current state of your business and identifying where you want to go. With a long-term vision in place for your people, processes, and tools, you can begin to identify improvement areas, better understand costs, and plan to optimize your return on investment (ROI).

An important consideration when it comes to SEM is the long-term total cost of ownership (TCO) of your assets. TCO is an estimate of the expenses associated with the procurement, deployment, development, maintenance, and usage of a technology asset throughout its lifecycle. Keeping this in mind when planning for and implementing new tools and processes helps you to understand not only your original investment and “hard costs,” but also the other costs you’ll incur along the way. Thinking of your investment long-term rather than only through the implementation phase helps you manage not only your expectations, but the expectations of other stakeholders as well. It also helps you keep future states in mind instead of working on a project-to-project basis – a key element of SEM.

With TCO in mind, you can begin to build your short- and long-term goals and plans for modernizing. Make an iterative transformation roadmap that prioritizes the most business-critical upgrades, changes, or investments—then scale from there. And be sure to set key milestones and goals not just for the implementation phase, but for everything that comes after.

Importantly, understand that SEM is a mindset and not just a project. Implementation schedules will need to be adjusted, expectations or requirements will change, new technologies will become available, you’ll need to reprioritize, and your modern enterprise will be prepared to handle this quickly and flexibly. With shared goals and a culture of continuous growth, you’ll see the value behind the work and be able to operate safely and strategically.

As a leader in technology services for more than 40 years, CAI has developed an end-to-end enterprise service management model that includes process automation, asset management, service desk, self-service, application and infrastructure support, and robust security measures. We optimize our service model through customization, delivering the perfect enterprise IT solution for your organization’s unique goals and maturity.

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