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Winning in the turns – Gartner’s research becomes reality

In August 2019, DataNovation Ltd. sponsored the distribution of a Gartner Research paper: Winning in the Turns, a CIO Action Guide to aid firms that seek to gain sustained advantage over their competitors long after the next recession passes.

At that time, according to the IMF World Economic Outlook, uncertainty regarding the trade war between America and China and the outcome of Brexit appeared to be dragging the world toward economic recession. Gartner Research was readying its cohort of clients to work through and come out on top and take a contrarian view over other more conventional tactics that are deployed in any economic downturn.

Nobody could forecast the impact of a global pandemic or the collapse of the Oil Market. With prophetic insight, Gartner Research published an action plan that looked beyond the ability of corporations to protect their balance sheet.

Winning in the Turns cautions that the immediate, reactive process of slashing P&L with tactics like forced layoffs can slow the rate of economic recovery, through chronic depletion of capability.    

The smart enterprise, according to Gartner, will use unconventional thinking and unlock ways to cut costs with quick wins, to improve efficiency and use the savings to retrain and improve skills and be in a better situation to accelerate out of the downturn faster than your competition.

Drawing a red line on legacy infrastructure

Under the hood of many global company operations is the increasing cost of maintaining aging and under-utilized systems which, in a crisis involving massive layoffs, can cost jobs.

To draw the line on retentive, redundant technology, you need to graph your application portfolio. The vertices should be simple: Inert vs. Active systems but they are complicated by a number of factors:

  • Application interdependencies
  • External audit compliance
  • Unforeseeable risk
  • Indeterminate understanding of data value.

Throw in another curve: each application has different cost associations. Auditing the cost of redundant systems is an unenviable task, equivalent to bringing an undertaker to a department dedicated to health and wellness.

Gartner Research has published an excellent paper (Decommissioning Applications: The Emerging Role of the Application Undertaker) identifying the absolute urgency of large enterprise to assign this undertaker role to a dedicated team and the necessity of pruning the application portfolio for continued healthy growth.

Fix the problem, don’t add red to the ledger

To eliminate redundant systems quickly, affordably and without risk, a solution must meet the following criteria:

  • Work for any application regardless of OS or authorship
  • Automate processes for rapid delivery and decommissioning
  • Provide a uniform, accessible and autonomous means of accessing the data
  • Deliver contextual meaning to support business dependencies
  • Manage data governance for internal and external compliance
  • Adapt to changing rules of data engagement
  • Cost significantly less than the status quo.

 Until quite recently, no automated technology solution was able to address all these criteria, which created a bottleneck in the modernization workflow. Lacking a conclusive cost-benefit  calculation as the value of decommissioning, organizations have focused on other more quantifiable cost optimization strategies than decommissioning. However, with the emergence of DataNovata, a multiplatform technology to access data history, there is a calculation to determine the cost-benefit and realize net gain fairly quickly into the process.

Preparing the business case

A portfolio risk analysis tool will help analyse application interactions and identify systems that are falling or have fallen into disuse.

Estimate the cost of their associated hardware, OS, application and databases licenses, support, service and consumption costs. For quick wins, spotlight any system where database update history is negligible. 

For an immediate ROI, set a target to save 70% of the costs you have identified. Then extrapolate these savings over the next 5-10 years across your continuously aging application portfolio. Deliver the aggregated cost saving calculation to your C-Level executive with the recommendation that this strategy demonstrates tighter fiscal controls over infrastructure, to help stabilize and re-energize the business.

Tender an RFP for creating a unified archiving platform to migrate the relevant application data to an accessible archive. Issue a tender with a budget set at 30% of the costs you are seeking to eliminate.

Cost savings quickly realized by implementing DataNovata


Examples of application environments you could quickly eliminate to reduce infrastructure and application costs

IBM AS400 | i-Series
Oracle Legacy
Sun Servers

Supporting jobs not junk

In absence of any critical need, housing a museum of technology is a luxury of avoidance. In a time of crisis, investing in non-performing assets is much harder to justify. In a time when maximizing value is the most important message to shareholders, holding onto old technology at the expense of e.g. skilled labour is short-sighted.

Taking the initiative to resolve this is consistent with good fiscal management of resources. You will be able to reallocate skills to newer technologies and deliver cost savings to support human resources, and improve the overall health of the business.


Reference Materials
The 2020 CIO Agenda: Winning in the Turns
Decommissioning Applications: The Emerging Role of the Application Undertaker
DataNovata Application Costing Questions

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