What are the drivers of application modernisation

Digital transformation and cloud-first strategies

Recent history provides a great illustration as to how businesses can be forced to rapidly evolve and transform to overcome unprecedented change.   Especially in the United Kingdom where businesses have been forced to adapt to multiple events which were completely outside of their immediate control.  The double whammy of Brexit & Covid pandemic both impacting businesses at almost exactly the same time,  has caused businesses to try an frantically adjust to sudden changes and finding that the business systems they have relied upon for years cannot be changed as easily or as economically as desired.

Many suppliers of large popular systems and even those who supply customised or bespoke systems have been struggling to staff or even the resources together to get the changes in motion. Primarily because they too have been trying to acclimatise to the changes themselves. 

The simple fact is, even as early as 2018, after a survey conducted by Gartner, established that by 2025 that of all software systems currently in use , that a vast majority of them will continue to receive insufficient investment for application modernisation strategies.  The report also warned that existing Technical Debt will continue to compound on top of existing technical debt.

Its factors such as these that will be forcing many organisations to start considering their approaches to Application Modernisation along with the factors we discuss further below.

Digital Transformation

The phrase Digital Transformation had started become a popular buzzword in back in 2013 and had gradually grown in popular in corporate and public sector parlance since.  Many companies and organisations had started taking steps in this area primarily to cope with demand for the gradually changing  of the workplace environment with the ever increasing popularity of remote work and the rising number of requests from staff to enable this workplace reform.   Many companies were also starting to learn from the many smaller organisations who made the shift previously, like  Remote: Office not required .  Businesses adopted new technologies not only for their functionality, but also for their ability to enhance worker productivity through simpler interfaces and more intuitive interactions. Enterprise applications with cumbersome user interfaces can make work more difficult for employees, even if the backend is efficient.

Digital Transformation

The strategic adoption of digital technologies used to improve processes and productivity, deliver better customer and employee experiences, manage business risk, and control costs.

Adapting to remote work practices brought about changes to internal IT infrastructures and the need to adapt and transform internal company systems to cope. However, businesses for the most part could still dictate the pace of change, but they had very little control how customers needs and desires were also changing because they too were being released from the shackles of corporate norms and getting accustomed to the trans formative powers enabled by digital era.

First the rise and popularity of the internet had not only started to change the way customers search and purchase products but also the way and the locations they would use them. This in turn was further magnified by the introduction of Mobile Technology and the changes it too enabled.

Many businesses have learned that digital transformation is not a one time project or programme. It’s an ongoing continual process thats constantly nurtured and evolving. Implementing technology without understanding how it fits in the big picture can create more challenges than benefits.

Digital transformation should begin with a vision, and any projects should stem from that vision. It’s imperative to keep in mind business goals and objectives and how a digital transformation strategy can and should support them.

The rise of BYOD ( Bring Your Own Device)

For many digital and knowledge workers the standard corporate issued laptop or mobile device is often as useful as a chocolate fireguard and just as reliable as one.  Many workers don’t want to be constrained by a corporate mandated operating system, hardware choice or even office productivity suite choice.  They would much rather use their own devices, but would still like to gain access corporate systems and infrastructure. 


An IT policy that allows, and sometimes encourages, employees to access enterprise data and systems using personal mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops.

BYOD enables employees to be able to enjoy the convenience of hardware agnosticism with the added bonus of being able to bring their own devices and productivity tools to work with them, or in most cases work remotely. BYOD requires extra focus on device management, since corporate data must still be protected even as workers use their own devices to access it.

It isn’t just employees that benefit from BYOD because many businessess believe BYOD increases employee creativity and productivity. There is also a marked increase in overall efficiency after adopting a BYOD program, suggesting that the benefits can outweigh risks when BYOD is successfully managed.


BYOD changed the way workers accessed corporate data and how businesses protect their digital assets. The risks can be mitigated and the rewards are both tangible and quantifiable.

Many businesses experience scenarios in which both workers and their companies can benefit – from the sales representative who has access to Bespoke CRM solutions from his or her iPad to the marketer who has a innovative marketing brainwave in the middle of the night and can immediately analyse data from the company’s latest survey to create strategic ideas for the brand’s next advertising campaign.

BYOD provides immense potential to transform business, enable agility and promote innovative approaches to interacting with customers and business partners. However,  the proliferation of the plethora of smart mobile devices creates complexities that are overwhelming for many organisations. These challenges include;

The key is to formulate a strategy that approaches BYOD holistically, responding to employee expectations while at the same time fulfilling business requirements. An effective BYOD strategy cannot be contemplated without considering how the companies existing business and information systems can cope with being accessed by different devices. This is where an effective application modernisation strategy needs to considered.

87% of businesses are dependent on their employee’s ability to access mobile business apps from their smartphone.

Common Drivers for application modernisation

Although the two examples presented above are currently more poignant to application modernisation  today, they are by no means the only reasons.  There are many more technical and aesthetic reasons why organisations need to consider application modernisation.

One of the technical reasons is that most applications that are used by organisations today, were originally developed in what was considered best practice and conventional knowledge at the time, and were developed  making use of what is now known as Monolithic Application architecture.

Monolithic Architecture

Software Applications that are designed to handle multiple related tasks. They’re typically complex applications that encompass several tightly coupled functions.

Modern application architecture have evolved to be loosely coupled, using microservices and Application Programming Interfaces (API), which provide the foundation for what are known as cloud-native applications. 

Business growth and innovation are pretty much driven by business vision and goals. The need to evolve, progress, and stay relevant in the current business landscape, is what sets the wheels of transformation in motion.  Typical drivers of application modernisation include:

An important point to recognise is that the majority of modernisation projects occur due to business drivers such as, political and market shifts, regulatory changes, business opportunities or the containment of business risk. Technical drivers also have a part to play in the decision of the organisation but these are less likely to be the main overarching reasons to undertake a modernisation project.

There is also a great difference in the decision as to whether an organisation is will attempt to try to undertake an application modernisation on their own or partner with company like threenine that does this sort of work day in and day out. Modernising legacy software applications is different from Business as Usual development and maintenance and we have seen many occasions where clients come to us after they have unfortunately failed in an internal modernisation project which has proved to be expensive and time consuming.