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Agile IT held back by legacy tech and legacy budgeting

CIOs admit their organisations cannot keep pace with digital transformation initiatives, with capex budgeting and legacy IT part of the problem

The cost of re-architecting legacy applications is a key factor holding back digital transformation initiatives, a new CIO survey has reported.

The Workplace agility report from Capita and Citrix found that legacy applications are delaying digital transformation of the entire organisation for more than half of respondents (56%) of the 200 CIOs who took part in the study.

Many enterprises are still dependent on these on-premise applications, which have been heavily customised and are not built to be delivered from a cloud infrastructure or as a cloud service, Capita and Citrix noted in the report.

Re-architecting and integrating applications is difficult work, and for many CIOs, this barrier is best overcome by seeking outside help and bringing in skilled application remediation experts from a third party,” the report said.

A big majority of organisations (87%) say legacy applications are slowing their journey to creating an agile workspace, with the main causes cited as cost of re-architecting or transforming applications (68%), disruption to the user experience (43%), and a lack of in-house skills to modernise applications (36%).

Evolving alongside this application challenge has been the shift towards cloud computing, with organisations looking to software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications to increase workspace agility. However, only 25% of organisations think SaaS applications meet their requirements, and this figure drops to 17% in mid-size organisations.

Overall, 84% of organisations say an inability to roll out new services and applications to their workforce quickly is affecting business competitiveness.

The capex (capital expenditure) model for IT budgeting is also a factor preventing the take-up of more agile IT practices. Many organisations operate a fixed multi-year budget cycle, so IT investments in infrastructure, platforms and applications are often accounted for as capex.

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This can hinder organisations gaining the flexibility they need to scale usage up and down, and move towards a more dynamic operating expenditure (opex) model. When asked, 88% of CIOs said capex models are making it harder to create an agile workspace, Capita and Citrix found.

The study also looked at how end-user computing is evolving and employees using their own devices for work. On average, CIO respondents think the number of IT support requests due to remote and mobile working has increased by 25%. And as “shadow IT” has continued its rise, 83% of organisations admitted it is a challenge to keep their remote and mobile working policy up to date.

James Bunce, director of Capita IT Services, said: “The digital revolution has had a substantial impact on how we work and what our expectations of our working environments are. As organisations look to move away from a traditional desktop IT environment to a more flexible one that caters for mobile, remote, and more digital-savvy employees, the appeal of an agile workspace has grown.”

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