Tangled Web of IT Applications Stunts Digital Transformation

Without a modernized applications landscape, IT lacks the bandwidth to deliver competitive advantage through new technologies, a survey finds.

A tangled web of applications within international organizations is getting more and more complex, putting strain on the IT department and stunting digital transformation, according to a study of more than 1,000 CIOs and senior IT decision makers by Capgemini, a provider of consulting, technology and outsourcing services.

The study revealed that 60 percent of senior IT decision makers believe their departments’ most valuable contribution to the company is introducing new technologies.

Indeed, a significant number have already implemented cloud (56 percent), mobility (54 percent), social (41 percent) and big data (34 percent) solutions.

However, survey results suggested that without a modernized applications landscape, IT lacks the bandwidth to deliver competitive advantage through these technologies.

Over the last three years the number of IT decision makers who believe their business has more applications than it needs has increased from just over one-third (34 percent) to nearly one-half (48 percent).

Just 37 percent believe the majority of their applications are mission-critical. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) said they believe at least one-fifth of their company’s applications share similar functionality and should be consolidated, and 57 percent believe that at least one-fifth of their apps should be retired or replaced.

"On the surface, a badly organized, overloaded and outdated applications landscape sounds like a minor irritation for the IT team, absorbing bandwidth and wasting money, but ultimately not a problem that should keep the wider business up at night," Ron Tolido, senior vice president of application services at Capgemini, said in a statement.

The study also contains evidence that, while Western organizations are creaking under the strain of outdated, unused legacy applications, developing markets are benefiting from their relatively fresh, young IT landscape.

For example, where countries like Finland and Norway report below-average levels of understanding between business and IT (just 64 percent and 69 percent, respectively, believe the relationship is satisfactory), an impressive 92 percent of respondents in Brazil, India and China report a satisfactory understanding between the two.

"In a world where all facets of an organization are starting to embrace digital transformation - and are dependent on the quick deployment of mobile, social, big data and cloud solutions for competitive advantage – a well-rationalized applications landscape suddenly becomes a much bigger, strategic imperative for the whole company," Tolido said.

The findings of Capgemini’s 2014 Application Landscape Report are based on a survey conducted in 12 languages with 1,116 CIOs and top-level IT decision makers in companies of various sizes from a wide range of industries.

The report covers 16 countries, with 73 percent of respondents from developed economies (Australia, Europe, United States) and a further 27 percent from fast-developing countries (Brazil, China, India).