Traditional IT approaches have been careful and methodical by design. That was great — until now. Today most businesses on the transformation journey are in a big hurry to differentiate themselves or disrupt their industries. The usual IT approaches can’t keep pace.

So how can modern CIOs operate, evolve and adapt their teams at the speed demanded by the business, while also being flexible enough to respond quickly when business conditions change?

Leading CIOs can take five bold courses of action:

  • Revisit the applications portfolio. The goal: to understand the speed with which applications can be adapted for continuous modernization. Many CIOs mistakenly believe that IT modernization comes down to a binary choice between moving all legacy applications to the cloud or else moving none. But in fact, each application, along with its associated workloads, represents an individual decision point.
    It’s also important to remember that migrating an application to the cloud will invariably require some downtime for any related business processes. That’s one more reason why it’s vital for CIOs to coordinate and align their work with the business.
  • Position the move to the cloud. Leading organizations move legacy assets to the cloud only when doing so actually adds value. The old notion of “lift and shift” has become outdated. What’s needed now is greater flexibility and elasticity.
    The upside for CIOs is that they’ll no longer need to live with a decision for 3 or 5 years. Instead, they can provision only what they need, while deprovisioning what they no longer need. In this way, CIOs can be completely flexible with their assets.
  • Be able to operate both in the cloud and on-premises at scale. This is critical. Even as CIOs move more and more assets to the cloud, they also discover the power of keeping certain strategic components of their IT assets and operations on-premises. So most organizations will need to operate as both a traditional IT environment and a cloud-based enterprise. These operations need to run side-by-side and at a global scale, and be mutually aware of each other.
  • Build an innovative business platform. Transformations require the business and IT to work together on agile teams. In this way, ideas can be developed quickly into minimum viable products (MVPs), then tested speedily as prototypes. Also, these teams can use digital sandboxes to set up technical environments that provide API access to common functions, integration with mission-critical systems, easy-to-use analytics and artificial intelligence, and access to both internal and external data sources.
  • Continuously transform applications for speed. This includes developing an assessment methodology for building the business case, essential to obtaining funding; creating an operating model for operating at scale; and using DevOps to allow continuous transformation — not weekly or monthly, but daily or even hourly.
    One way this can be done is with automation. For example, testing applications can be done with automated scripts. This also allows IT modernization to be done in parallel, with one team developing and testing new applications while another team moves legacy applications in a minimally viable configuration to the cloud.

In picking up the pace of IT, it’s important that chief information officers don’t take on too much at once. Instead of energizing the IT group, overloading can lead to paralysis. Of course, taking on too little can be almost as bad. The key is to strike a balance. In this way, the modern IT organization can move at the speedy pace of business.

To learn more, read the white paper, Use IT modernization to accelerate and scale business transformation.