Modernisation Calls for Business and Technology Champions

The 23rd annual Edelman Trust Barometer survey* shows business leaders are trusted more in a polarised world than governments and other democratic institutions.  Surpassing elected premiers and governments by an average 12 percent trust points, business leaders are playing an increasingly important role – not just in the lives of their employees and direct stakeholders, but in society at large.

One area where we are seeing informed and bold leadership is in modernising and future proofing critical systems, which shows a more enlightened perspective on driving shareholder value.

Taking the decision to modernise last-century mainframes and navigate the organisation to a safe landing zone needs courage, integrity and determination. Collaborating honestly and openly to envision and deliver a fit-for-purpose, core platform that assures the future of employees, customers and stakeholders is not for the faint hearted.  

Businesses face market disruption, economic uncertainty, and regulatory scrutiny as never before. IT strategies must cope with an exponential growth of data and meet the emerging risks and opportunities of AI.  Personalisation in the age of augmented reality calls for a blended social media and communications strategy.  And all the while, leaders must secure and protect employee and customer personal data as virtual and physical worlds overlap.  

Building on this trusted status of competent and ethical, defined in the Edelman Barometer, requires business and IT leaders to face all these challenges. And that means dealing with the long shadow cast by their legacy systems. Organisations that host customer data and critical business processes on mainframes must bring this 1970s technology into the 21st century. 

We have seen several high-profile incidents of service failure owing to the chronic skills shortage in the last year. “Security by obscurity” does not stand up to the diversity of cyber security risks faced by the INFOSEC community in 2023. Additionally, the continuously increasing costs of operating legacy environments have introduced commercial risk into already constrained “run” budgets.  

Change Champions and Organisational Commitment

Modernising and tackling infrastructure complexities to meet future business needs calls for multiple change champions over the lifecycle of the initiative. It also needs ongoing organisational commitment. Given the longevity the mainframe has enjoyed in so many organisations, reliably transacting trillions of dollars of business every day, it’s no wonder the majority may baulk at this herculean task.  But the risk of doing nothing has become greater than the risk of embarking on a difficult modernisation journey.   

At LzLabs we have the privilege to partner with many champions of change, line of business leaders, CIOs and CTOs who have had the courage and integrity to take the initiative. The motivation has been subtly different in each case, and of course the technical dimensions of the problem have varied. But we recognise the common characteristics of leaders who have dared to take on 40 years of mainframe technology debt and are now reaping the benefits. 

In each of these customer cases, there has been a vision for change, underpinned by clear insight on the nature of the business risk and opportunity. Our change champions have all possessed the organisational sensitivity and political guile to plot a path to the open systems world, keeping the lights on while building the new service operation to meet the required SLA.  Most important, they have had the courage to take on the deep-rooted resistance, from wherever it may come, to modernisation of the core business platform.  

The words of Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever and a change giant, may inspire others contemplating modernisation: “I have always passionately believed that the single most important attribute of a leader is to be driven by a deeper sense of purpose.” More often than not, purpose is linked to service, as Polman describes in “The Future Leader”. “You have to connect with the people and world around you, commit to a cause bigger than your own self-interest and, crucially, put yourself to the service of others.”  

Integrate Your Legacy with Your Platform of Innovation

In the coming weeks, we will further explore the stories of our own customers; why they chose LzLabs to partner with them on their change journeys, and how we facilitated transformation projects. For over a decade now, we have brought together some of the top tech talent in the industry to create the LzLabs Software Defined Mainframe® (SDM). Built with openness and integrity, SDM gives LzLabs and our customers a powerful tool in its mission to provide organisations of any size and all degrees of complexity with a low-risk path to mainframe modernisation.  We want to share the knowledge and learnings from these change champions and build a community that can learn from their experience. We want to help you evolve your own path and prove that it is right to trust business and technology leaders for their integrity, competence and willingness to do the right thing in the service of employees, customers and the wider world.   

Coming top of the Trust Barometer for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century is a high accolade for modern business leaders. Business was the only institution judged by survey respondents to be both competent and ethical. To merit this judgement, business leaders should be prepared to tackle head on knotty problems that impede the progression of the organisation. True leadership requires the vision and determination to rise above quotidian concerns and forge a path to the future.




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