Achieving business success with Application Modernisation is no small feat. It can be a complex process that takes time, input and collaboration from your internal team and stakeholders. But investing in it can generate long-term – potentially indefinite – results.

To help more Kiwi organisations understand the benefits of application modernisation and see real-world examples of success, we were proud to host our Application Modernisation Success Panel event in April. Hosted by renowned NZ Tech Commentator, Peter Griffin, and guest panellists including finalists of the 2020 CIO Business Transformation Awards, the event showcased the digital transformations of three leading Kiwi organisations and how application modernisation played a part in their journeys. 

Watch the highlights of the evening here.

Our guest speaker panel included Clinton Chang, Chapter Lead: Delivery Leads – Countdown; Patrick O’Doherty, Enterprise Architecture & Business Design Lead – Business Transformation – Inland Revenue; Wayne Armstrong, Head of Digital Channels – PlaceMakers; Nigel Parker, Customer Success Lead – Microsoft; and Chris Robb, Chief Customer Transformation Officer – Salesforce.

Watch the highlights of the evening here.

To help you better understand the application modernisation journey and all that it entails, here are some key insights from some of our guest panellists on how application modernisation has led to tangible benefits for both organisations and most importantly, their customers. 

Cutting costs and improving the customer experience.

For Placemakers, there were huge benefits to both their internal organisation as well as their customers. Their application modernisation and automation journey saw huge reductions in internal costs, all the while making the customer journey more seamless than ever before.

“Three years ago we printed 22 million pages of paper for our internal order processes and we had no digital transactions. Now we’re seeing more than 1.5 million digital transactions a year, with an 80 – 90% success rate. That’s reduced our paper usage by 11 million pages – a saving of $500,000 in paper for the organisation. 

For our customers, the new experiences have meant better digital journeys with more transparency. We’ve implemented technologies like automated emails to provide updates on customer orders, and text reminders to collect your orders. We created more visibility for our customers for tracking orders – just like Uber, you can see your delivery truck coming down the road, and know exactly when it’ll be delivered. Not only did this make the customer experience more seamless, it reduced our customer service team’s phone calls by more than 500,000 calls per year.” – Wayne Armstrong

Ultimately the most important thing is people.

Wayne from PlaceMakers also talked about how it was key to have a clear roadmap and work alongside the people of the organisation throughout the journey to enable buy-in and success. The journey may need systems, processes and structures in place but ultimately, the thing that makes it all a success is people. “You need to continue constant communication and really sell it to your staff to be able to sell it to the customers when they are in the store.”

Fast, iterative change in a COVID landscape.

Chris Robb of Salesforce positioned how Application Modernisation is really about speed and what capabilities organisations can bring to the market. It is no longer about getting to a final destination but rather it is a constant journey. The world is enabled with cloud-based solutions to be able to focus on the customer. 

When Kiwis found themselves in full lockdown due to COVID, Countdown had a huge opportunity to utilise their end-to-end internal systems and teams to make a difference for their customers in a time of need. Their modernisation journeys that had been previously undertaken set them up to hit the ground running when COVID hit, and allowed their internal team to make fast, iterative changes to the site that helped them deal with the new challenges of the current climate.

“When COVID hit we realised that vulnerable people were in need of using our services. We rapidly released a priority assist feature, allowing people in need to have the first go at our delivery windows for online ordering. The first cut of the development was put out within 5 days, and within four weeks we had a fully integrated situation. The organisation and the way we set up our business was key for this to happen – it essentially saved the website during COVID.” – Clinton Chang

“Anything is possible.”

Bain Hollister, CTO at ClearPoint, mentioned how application modernisation is more than just lift and shift and although it has its role to play, we are seeing clients starting to move further along the journey. Often organisations will choose a flagship application within the organisation to move into cloud services and then use that as an example to drive forward further change after building confidence in the process. Nigel Parker, Customer Success Lead at Microsoft, reinforced that there are different stages of the journey of business transformation and application modernisation. The journey can often be multi-year and go through various stages. Nigel mentioned how it is important to consider what is already in production and which parties and vendors are involved at each stage to identify how needs can be addressed. 

IRD reiterated this message – that good things take time. For the IRD team executing one of the biggest transformational technology projects in NZ history, meant spending the past six years working to modernise applications and create design patterns to automate their systems. These processes were the only reason initiatives like the government COVID relief payments were able to happen with such speed. It also allowed them to make changes to these new processes when things didn’t always go as planned.

“Last year, a change to the Working for Families payment saw hundreds of thousands of Kiwis without money in their bank account at the usual time. Between 8am and 10am we had hundreds of thousands of phone calls, asking ‘Where is my money?’ In situations where money is at stake, these design changes have a genuine impact on IRD customers. It’s these kinds of things – being able to change those processes can make a really big difference to people’s lives.” – Patrick O’Doherty