Three steps for businesses to keep pace with digital changes

Posted Mar 8, 2018 by Tim Sandle
Many businesses are on a digital transformation journey, but this journey can take unexpected twists. In developing appropriate information technology becoming agile is key, and here there are three steps a business can take to achieve this goal.
Beware  computer viruses. Many computer users don t update anti-virus software
Beware, computer viruses. Many computer users don't update anti-virus software
Kacper Pempel / Reuters
Many businesses are at the 'waterfall' stage and most wish to become 'agile', according to Christopher O'Malley of Compuwarre, writing in Forbes. By this he means limitations or incorrect paths taken during digital upgrades in businesses, specifically where mainframe development teams struggle to keep pace with web and mobile teams. When this is out-of-kilter this limits the ability of Information Technology services in businesses to deliver the digital innovation customers seek.
The terms 'waterfall' and 'agile' are draw from project management-speak. 'Waterfall' tends to refer to the “traditional” approach; whereas 'Agile' is commonly a reference to a specific form of rapid application development, meaning something different or newer than 'Waterfall'. Typically the 'Waterfall' approach treats analysis, design, coding, and testing as discrete phases in a software project. In contrast, so-called Agilists believe these phases should be continuous activities.
Businesses are heavily reliant upon data and most data resides in COBOL (common business-oriented language) applications and databases running on mainframe computers (used for bulk data processing). This is supported by a Forrester / Compuware Corporation survey, which fond that 96 percent of new business initiatives at large organizations involve mainframes. However, because COBOL applications were developed several decades ago thought, planning and development needs to go into synergizing new digital channels and platforms with traditional information storage systems. In addition, many busiensses are seeking to gravitate away from COBOL, with programs being migrated to new platforms, rewritten in modern languages or replaced with software packages.
According to O'Malley the mainframe model is holding companies back. He writes: "It’s time for enterprises to pop the mainframe’s build-build-build bubble that forms in waterfall and “shift left” toward more iterative development that is centered on customer feedback and dedicated to continuous improvement."
O'Malley goes on to outline three steps the Chief Information Officers should be considering. The first is to commit for comprehensive change and in a way that is inclusive and unconditional. The second recommendation is to equip mainframe teams with modern alternatives. The third step is breakdown cultural silos, and ensure everyone with a stake in the business is on-board with the new digital centric approach.