The Four Models of Application Transformation

In your effort to modernize your application portfolio to meet your organization’s rapidly changing business strategies, you have four models you can follow, according to Forrester’s Chris Andrews in a recent series of video interviews.

These are: application consolidation, change in deployment model, switching application providers and/or a major upgrade. These models are not mutually exclusive, and can be combined according to your particular needs.

Application Rationalization and Consolidation

If you’re like most enterprise application executives, you probably preside over a spaghetti-like mess of disparate legacy applications that have been bolted on together over the years. With an application rationalization and consolidation project, you learn to let go of these applications to  simplify your life.

A large financial services firm needed to quickly build customer-facing mobile applications to make banking easier for their clientele. But their layers of legacy applications added extra complexity to the project.

They had to rationalize and consolidate their back-end to make it easier to deliver critical data to their new mobile applications and deliver a seamless experience to their consumers.

Change in Deployment Model

With almost 20 percent of healthcare organizations having suffered data breaches, and 804 data breaches occurring between 2009 and 2013, it’s not surprising that healthcare providers are wary of the cloud. But recently the management team of a large healthcare company had to overcome their fears due to the new regulatory environment.Forrester_video

In order to become more agile and customer-centric they decided to start migrating to the cloud. They started with lower risk applications, and over time their cloud strategy expanded significantly as they became more comfortable with risk and security issues.

By experimenting and working with their existing portfolio they developed more agility and paved the way for greater IT efficiencies.

Switching Application Providers

When you first purchase your beautiful, shiny new enterprise application, it seems like the honeymoon would never end. But then your vendor starts to take you for granted, and between not keeping pace with changes in technology and expensive upgrade options, you might decide to throw in the towel and switch providers.

The dysfunction between clients and software vendors are fairly common, and are another important cause that might lead to vendor migrations. And while there are benefits to vendor migration there are also challenges.

The benefits: you can quickly move to a vendor with new capabilities and new functionality. For instance,  if you combine that with a cloud-based deployment model you can ultimately operate your applications more effectively and realign a new vendor with your business goals. However, challenges arise, including the costs and risk of disruptions to various parts of your organization. In some cases, you encounter a new vendor that comes with new challenges and obstacles you never anticipated.

A Canadian financial services institution faced challenges with a long-time software provider, but maintenance fees were so high, and the software stopped providing value to business years ago. As a result, they took a look at its vendor’s capabilities, and over the course of a year moved away from their old provider.

The application leader made a solid case for change, convincing many of the organization’s stakeholders. All the disruptions were acceptable to the business because they acquired great new capabilities, they shed their legacy maintenance costs, and they were happier with the new capabilities.

Major Upgrade

Many organizations feel comfortable with the existing versions of their applications and decide not to participate in their vendor’s regular upgrades but suddenly they find that they’re behind the eight-ball. That’s when the major upgrade becomes an option.

The pros of a major upgrade are that you can gain quick access to new functionality and leapfrog previous releases. However, a major upgrade takes a great amount of time, investment, rework, and energy, which can cause disruption to various elements of your business.  At times, through all your efforts, you find yourself just getting an upgraded application without much new functionality. That’s a risk.


The four different application modernization strategies can actually be combined. For example, you can choose a new deployment model in the cloud, consolidate your apps, and choose a new vendor all at same time.

But the core principal is to think about how your business strategy is going to evolve over time and how you can evolve your application portfolio to meet those business strategy changes. Your business strategy will help you determine which model is going to be best suited for you.

Play Chris Andrews Interview Video