April 27, 2023

The Data Company’s Business Case for Platform Modernization

Outdated technology costs U.S. companies $1.8 trillion per year. Yet despite this figure, too many organizations are resistant to change their tech infrastructure.

There are a number of reasons why. In some cases, it’s inertia. In others, nostalgia—“this is the way we’ve always done it.”

But often the problem is simply this: the IT team isn’t making the right case for platform modernization. 

Too often, data companies miss the mark when explaining why platform modernization actually matters:

  • Focusing on feature parity with legacy systems
  • Ballooning features and functionality without prioritizing value to users
  • Approaching IT & development as a “behind the scenes” function instead of a true revenue generator

Instead of making these mistakes, ask: how can platform modernization provide more revenue opportunities for our data company? 

Once you answer that question, you’ll have a solid business case in hand—not to mention your CEO’s attention.

Why modernize your platforms?

The first step toward effective platform modernization is to understand and explain what it offers to the company at large. If your leadership doesn’t understand the gaps in your legacy system or missed opportunities caused by outdated platforms, they won’t see the value.

Simply put, platform modernization is the process of updating legacy platforms to improve your company’s agility and ability to scale. Technology updates include platform, user experience, and other front-end features.

Once leadership understands the “what,” they must understand the “why” of modernizing your business platforms:

  • Ability to leverage existing data not only as an asset, but as a product
  • Ability to find and act on new market opportunities
  • Improved scalability for long-term growth and resource-heavy sprints
  • Improved customer experience and brand loyalty driven by continuous value delivery

To get leadership on board with platform modernization, it’s important that they understand the full scope of the endeavor. It isn’t just a simple tech upgrade—at least, it shouldn’t be.

In addition to upgrading technology, your team will need to adopt a mindset focused on solving for need. Depending on your current state, this can result in a shift for different industries.

Legacy tech: it’s risky too

Sure, platform modernization has some risks. And it’s important to be aware of those. For the most part, however, these risks can be mitigated with strategy, planning, and doing your homework ahead of time.

But this pales in comparison to the risks of sticking with your legacy tech:

  • Inability to innovate rapidly or quickly react to market-changing needs
  • Inability to solve for customer challenges
  • Lack of competitive advantage in the marketplace
  • Decreased security as updates and patches may take more time to deploy
  • Offline workarounds when your platforms don’t integrate well

Even if your legacy systems and platforms haven’t led to problems in the past, the longer you go without updating, the higher the chances your company will face these challenges down the road. The cost of failing to act now may be higher than your company can support in the long term.

For data companies, there’s also the added risk of lost opportunity. Modernizing your platforms will give you the chance to launch new data products that generate more revenue. If you stick to your legacy tech, you’ll miss that opportunity.

Understanding the full scope of platform modernization

Platform modernization isn’t a one-and-done deal. It requires continuous support from multiple stakeholders—including your organizational leadership. It’s important that they understand the need to commit to supporting your team during implementation.

These steps can include:

  • Evaluating processes
  • Helping to adopt a growth mindset
  • Undergoing new training and answering questions
  • Understanding how and why their roles should change

Because you’ll need support from the top down, you want to clarify who should be part of change management in your business at every level, from the Board of Directors and C-Suite management to individual teams.

What’s more, it’s important that everyone is on board with the impact platform modernization will have on the business—from customer experience to internal culture. While these changes are positive across the board, it will require some mindset shifts among various members of the organization.

It’s important to be clear-eyed about what these changes entail from both an operational and cultural level. That way, leadership understands what they’re getting themselves into.

Is platform modernization right for your business?

Now that you know how to make a business case for platform modernization, it’s time to decide if your company can take advantage of the benefits associated with modernizing your platform.

So how do you know if it’s right for your data company? While there’s no one-size-fits-all series of questions to ask, here are a few key factors to consider:

  • The digital products you modernize should be big enough (read: sufficiently mission-critical) to make an impact. Does your product strategy tie modernization to business value?
  • You must be able to set a reasonable and attainable schedule to minimize time to value. Can you show results in a relatively quick time frame that’s a matter of weeks, not years? Will the platform modernization allow you to react quickly to changing customer needs?
  • Are you prepared to deliver value incrementally, creating a self-funding product that builds trust with key stakeholders
  • You must be able to define how you’ll measure success. Can you set key performance indicators (KPIs) that show the impact?
  • Have you defined what success looks like? Conversely, have you defined failure (and how to avoid it)?
  • Have you clearly conveyed how platform modernization ties to product strategy, customer value, and business objectives?

Some businesses look at platform modernization and get overwhelmed by the process. However, you don’t have to update every single platform or process all at once.

In fact, it’s better to adopt a parallel approach, where you continue using your legacy technology and incrementally deliver value with your new platforms. That way, you aren’t disrupting the customer experience, and won’t spend months on a costly overhaul.

3Pillar Global can help you evaluate your goals and prioritize what you want to focus on to help you determine which parts you want to modernize first. By focusing on business outcomes, we help determine priorities.

Additionally, not all parts of your platform require modernization. It’s absolutely possible and likely that the increased features and functionality your business gains with platform modernization will allow you to retire some outdated processes and technology. 3Pillar Global can help you make these determinations.

3Pillar Global is here to help you develop your platform modernization strategy, shift your cultural mindset, and build modern data products and platforms for an evolving market. Contact us today to speak with a 3Pillar expert.