IT modernization or IS modernization?


The question is: what are we talking about when talking about “modernization” in the matter of information technologies and enterprise information systems? Are we talking about of the way to manage… Let’s say a jump from COBOL to Java that will hurt IT teams working habits? Or a jump from a single block system to a distributed and partners opened system? Answer is: both!

  • Information Technology (IT) modernization is the process that guides changes in IT practices and technologies among IT, and non IT, teams when the gap between original practices and target ones implies more work than just workaround. Let’s say moving from COBOL to Java/Ruby, or moving from textual specifications to UML business/functional models. What is the key point? Part of or even whole team won’t be able to move…
  • Information System (IS) modernization is the process that conducts technical changes in the way a functional part of an enterprise information system is implemented in applications. Let’s say moving from a full VisualBasic 5 written reservation application to the iso-functional application written in Java. Whatever the motivation is, the key point is that this move won’t be done by solely replacing VB syntax with Java syntax!

In any enterprise a move has always a (hidden) business goal: that is true for modernization moves. An IT move will always affect the IS and so leads to an IS move (except for startup and delete+new moves, which may not really be considered as moves…). An IS move is by nature an IT move, even the re-architecture move which leads to keep technologies in place but change the way to use them.

So IT modernization and IS modernization are two distinct processes with separate goals… But always come together. Any modernization move has to be considered from both standpoints.