Are you leading the disruption – or waiting to be disrupted?

on Nov 29th, 2016 in Application Development, Application Modernization, Digital Transformation, | 0 comments

The concept of digital business is on the mind of many business leaders today. It’s beyond a CEO topic and is now a Board of Directors topic. Chaos and confusion is rampant, however, regarding digital business. As long as this continues, business leaders will be out of step with their CEOs and Boards.

Digital business is more than technology-enabled business

Let’s start with what digital business is not – it is not simply a business enabled by technology.  We must eliminate this rigid thought process of business within one box and technology as a separate, underlying box.  It is not just mobile-enablement. It is not just data analytics. It is not just connected devices. It is not just customer-centric marketing.  Those are all worthy initiatives, but by themselves do not create a digital business.

This highly structured mindset perpetuates the role of technology as an enforcer of rigid business processes. It begins with the assumption that we can predict the future with high certainty – the whims of our customers, who our partners will be, who our competition is, and ultimately what it takes to win in the marketplace.  The pace of change is accelerating and so is the rate of disruption.  Businesses are now being forced to make bold moves thoughtfully.  Either we are the disruptor – or we become disrupted.

Think like a Chief Digital Officer – regardless of your title

To become the disruptor, we must re-think the fabric of the business itself with a digital mindset. The age-old questions are unchanged… Who are the target customers? How do we add significant value to them? How do we become sticky? How do we experiment without alienating the core customer set? What data do we need to continually re-evaluate?


In the digital mindset, however, we re-think the business model where virtual and physical worlds work seamlessly together. The awkward collisions in the past of virtual and physical will evolve tomorrow into a more pleasant experience for the customer. We market to their individual identity. We anticipate their needs. We make recommendations. We excel in the service and support. We do all of this with unparalleled access to data-driven insights.

All of this requires collaboration – within the enterprise, with new and existing partners, and with an ultimate eye to the customer. It requires interconnectivity of people, data, things, and business processes. Seams and barriers must be torched relentlessly. This is why boards are putting business leaders into CIO positions, and CIOs into general management positions. This is why CMOs are gaining prominent roles. This is why some enterprises are formalizing the role of Chief Digital Officer.

Are you leading the disruption – or waiting to be disrupted?

Read Ciber’s eBook and learn 5 Ways to Think (and Act) Like a Chief Digital Officer

Why application modernization does not equal code translation

on Nov 11th, 2015 in Application Development, Application Modernization, | Comments Off on Why application modernization does not equal code translation

For a while, it seemed as if the IT world had found the perfect solution to application modernization: code translation. You would take an application written in an older language, send it through a tool to translate it, and then—presto!—you had the same application in a modern language.

The problem is, it never really worked. It was still the same application.

What we’ve learned as an industry is that code translation is, generally speaking, a poor option. Most application modernization experts, regardless of whom they work for or what their angle is, will steer clients away from code translation. It’s simply not a good idea.

Many problems, few benefits

Let’s say you take a mainframe application that is written in COBOL-85 and translate it into Java. What you end up with is the same application written in the Java programming language syntax, but one that looks like a COBOL application and behaves like a COBOL application. JOBOL, anyone? This isn’t an application that you want in your organization. It’s going to be difficult to maintain, difficult to enhance, and it’s going to suffer from performance issues. When you try to “modernize” an application with code translation, you end up with a lot of problems and very few benefits.

Translating an application from one language to another language is not modernization. That’s why we generally steer people away from it.

Even though we now know that code translation is not the answer, we certainly want to do something other than manually rewrite applications, because the manual approach is a pretty horrific option as well. It doesn’t scale well – it’s slow, risky, costly, and prone to lots of technical debt.  The question then becomes: How do you re-write your legacy applications to a completely new architecture? The answer: By using tools like the new Ciber Momentum™ transformation accelerator solution that doesn’t just translate, but instead accelerates the re-architecture of your applications.

When you leverage Ciber Momentum to re-architect a legacy application, we extract from that application only those things that you want and need to carry forward. Everything else gets left behind.

Look like Java, not COBOL

The procedural characteristics of COBOL are far different than those of a Java-based object-oriented application running on a Linux blade server. Frankly, you don’t want that COBOL application to look like a COBOL application on a blade server. You want it to look like a Java application on a blade server running Linux. You want a modern user experience. You want the ability to do data analytics, to leverage a rules engine, to support many user devices, and to enhance your application.

That’s why re-architecture is the way to go. We transform the key elements from the legacy application into your modern architecture that is going to enable you to maintain and enhance that application, and it’s going to give you all the benefits that you need. If you’re modernizing for an improved user experience, you’ll get that in a modern architecture. If you’re modernizing for mobility or analytics or cloud, you’ll get that too.

If you translate a COBOL application to Java, all you will get is a mainframe application in a different language.

Join the list of innovative companies quickly and effectively modernizing their applications with Ciber Momentum. You’ll discover how to modernize your applications much quicker than if you were to manually rewrite them—and with substantially better results than a typical translation service. Learn more here.

Sparking Innovation through Staff Augmentation

on Jul 19th, 2013 in Application Development, Collaboration, Enterprise Integration & IT Strategy, Managed Services, Talent Management, | Comments Off on Sparking Innovation through Staff Augmentation

As surprising as it might seem, two trends can be married together that most businesses are overlooking today; the need for CIO’s to fuel business innovation and the shift of the workforce towards more temporary workers.

The news headlines have recently been peppered with articles about how the job rebound is partially fueled by temporary workers – with technology being a top contributor.  In fact, according to a recent report, the technology field contributes 23% of all temporary workers, second only to the combined category of manufacturing and warehousing.  Within technology, this workforce is typically termed “staff augmentation.”

This shift has developed as a natural outcome of the ever-accelerating pace of business and the requirement that technology departments stay nimble to support that pace.  Rather than going through the complicated, expensive, and elongated process of hiring employees who may not be productive and may not be needed long-term, firms are turning to suppliers to fill their expert needs quickly.

Simultaneously, businesses are struggling to fuel competitive innovation through their technology staff.  Business executives complain that the computing department acts like order-takers, offering limited unique insight or value-add back to the business.

The increasing use of temporary workers along with the need for IT to deliver innovation should not be viewed as two separate and distinct items, but rather merged together to build upon each other.  When applied appropriately, temporary technology workers can be a catalyst for innovation in your firm.

Think about it.  You have highly skilled personnel doing work on your behalf that very possibly have worked in more IT departments, with more business processes, in more industries, than entire groups of long-term employees you have on staff.  They have a very unique perspective.  That diversity of experience and background is largely untapped.  Sit down with team members and ask them plainly for their thoughts.  What observations do they have about the business they are supporting?  If they were in charge, what would they change?  What have they seen elsewhere that might fulfill an opportunity in your environment?  You might be surprised at some of the brainstorming that results.

But don’t stop there, that is just the beginning of the innovation value being overlooked.  Untapped is the ability to try high risk endeavors while limiting downside.  The innovation process is not normally a single, eureka moment, but rather the painstaking task of trying many unconventional ideas until you find one that ignites.  Innovation means doing risky things as you attempt and fail at many endeavors.

Spinning up an application development team costs a lot of time and money, so you probably only budget and execute those projects that have the highest risk of success.  But what if you leveraged your suppliers in short turnaround, limited budget projects that are more risky than normal?  Spin up small agile scrum teams to try out ideas.  Given that agile scrum will drive working code quickly with high stakeholder interaction, you will know if you are onto something within weeks, not months or quarters.  If the first few iterations demonstrate success, then fuel the fire.  If the results are not coming, disband the team and move on to the next idea.  Isn’t that what innovation really comes down to… trying multiple high risk paths looking for the one that leads to success?

If you and your suppliers are already operating at the intersection of innovation and staff augmentation, then I applaud you.  However, if you are intrigued by the possibility of upping the game, perhaps I can help.  I’m proud of the thousands of expert consultants that I work with.  If you would give me the opportunity, drop me a line and I’ll introduce you to some of them.  Who knows what may come of it?

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