Your legacy does not have to be a legacy at all

14 March 2018

With legacy you quickly think about outdated IT systems, but legacy is much broader than that. "Organisational structures, processes, ways of working together, your staff, all the existing assets can form the legacy of an organisation," says Elly Doek, strategic client relations manager at info.nl. In the digital economy it is necessary that you as an organisation are flexible and can switch quickly. Start-ups have no assets in the physical world and are therefore able to completely disrupt existing markets, so it’s really important that you use the assets of your organisation to your advantage.

Use existing assets

In itself, legacy does not say much. Legacy is not a problem until it hinders your progress, preventing you from continually improving your products and services for your customers. Doek: "Take a flower auction as an example: these companies have multiple physical locations, but are also developing digital services that enable growers to market their products even better and to auction them less and less from a physical location. Auctioneers are therefore looking very closely at how they can make optimum use of their existing assets and knowledge of the market without being restricted by physical auction houses."

Leading role for the IT department

This does require courage and you must have a clear vision. "Innovation takes place anyway, you will not stop that," Doek emphasises. "So you better make sure it happens in your company, otherwise someone else will do it." The vision must increasingly come from the IT corner. "Years ago online was particularly interesting as a marketing channel, and a marketer or product manager said I need this functionality, otherwise I will not be able to offer my product."

Nowadays things work differently. "IT has become a fully-fledged part of the business, which means the IT department can no longer be simply supportive, but must play a leading role and take the lead, and that is only possible if you know where you want to go." This means a change in the role of the CIO.

It is important that the CIO has a clear and strong vision and understands the interplay between product and technology.

Launch and learn

Because, in addition to a solid vision of technology, the final product must be kept in mind for the end user, in just the same way we work with stakeholders. Doek: "What you often see with large projects and tenders is that huge lists of functionalities are created in advance, so that you are already building for three to four years during which so much changes that it is not surprising that you straightaway produce an outdated product, or lose a lot of budget on functionality that no one is waiting for."

By working in an agile way and not immediately building one big thing, but delivering small items, you can continuously adjust during the process. In other words Launch and learn. "First take the things that bring the most value to your customer and therefore to your organisation," Doek stresses. After each sprint, you look together with the stakeholders whether you are on the right track and where you need to adjust. "Always do this on the basis of your long-term vision."

It can be quite a process to get your organisation involved. "That is why it is wise to include a scrum master in the team who is used to working with these kinds of processes and who involves the organisation as a coach."

Assets as the basis for services

Service providers in the field of smart mobility are a good example of how you can use existing assets. "There are many solutions for car sharing," says Doek. "You have regular rental companies, companies such as Greenwheels that park their cars all over the city, services that allow you to rent the car from a private person and services such as Über and Lift for a car including a driver."

Each and every one of them are solutions with their own strengths, created from a specific market position. "It has become a web of services that may even be useful for one and the same person at different times. For example, a wedding in a hard-to-reach location, a taxi or Über. You have a business appointment but if there no station in the neighbourhood, then you use Greenwheels." And if you want to transport something big, you rent a van for a day.

The basis of all these services can increasingly be found in the assets of the company. Doek: "The service is then an extra service layer that you put on top of it." This must always be done from a clear vision and you must structure the organisation accordingly. "You have to take a good look at how you can best use the assets that you already have as a basis for your service, after which you can expand it further."

This article was previously published on CIO.nl.
Photo: Randall Bruder on Unsplash

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