Even before the current crisis situation, we knew that insufficient stability and a lack of adaptability in existing IT systems and business applications could harm a company’s performance. But now more than ever, we need swift action and companies have to rapidly adapt to increasingly complex business models.
The food retail sector fulfills an indispensable function in the basic supply of the population, which must be guaranteed at all times. Retailers are currently faced with reduced numbers of staff (as a result of quarantine/illness, childcare by employees, possible loss of cross-border workers, etc.), delivery bottlenecks and panic buying in addition to general planning uncertainty. The fluctuating workload is putting the system landscape to the test, and we may see problems with cash register and merchandise management systems. Due to the current remote working situation, rapid stabilization of the system landscape will only be possible under difficult conditions.
Rapid solutions are required
One concrete example of the current challenges in retail is the introduction of a system to control traffic in stores. Retailers are currently limiting the number of customers who can shop simultaneously to better protect them and staff from contracting coronavirus. In so doing, they are complying with a measure recommended by the Federal Office of Public Health: only one customer per ten square meters in stores. Customers receive an entry card that they hand in when they leave the store. It’s a scenario that probably none of the concerned companies ever expected, and it requires an adjustment of the system landscape. They have to intervene in existing processes and collect new data – and all within a very short amount of time.
Agile business model thanks to regained flexibility
Application modernization helps companies win back their agility. And agility, in this case, means being able to respond immediately to changes to their environment such as those caused by coronavirus by adapting ways of working, reducing costs, scaling the company up or down by 50% depending on the situation. The following process offers one pragmatic approach:
1. Problem analysis/stocktaking: analysis of the current technical state of the system landscape in addition to the identification of the IT landscape’s problems and desired state.
2. Plan for getting up to scratch: to make the approach as goal-oriented as possible, the most urgent measures and quick wins are defined as part of a plan for getting up to scratch. In the current situation, this primarily concerns measures that ensure rapid scaling and adaptation of systems while also ensuring the robustness of the system landscape.
3. Implementation: while the measures are being implemented, a process of continuous optimization is performed simultaneously. Even if the focus is on the successful and quick implementation of the defined immediate measures, it is important to also consider maintenance and long-term measures at the same time.
Application modernization gives companies the flexibility they need to take advantage of new business opportunities and quickly adapt to changing parameters. Application modernization is a first step on the path to an agile organization – a key competitive advantage, and not just in times of crisis.