The solution to modernize legacy applications involves a combined business and technology strategy. The solution must outline how organizations plan to use a public cloud to meet their broader business goals and not just solve the technical limitations. In our previous blog, we highlighted the relevance of CRM as a critical system of engagement and the typical challenges associated with legacy CRM systems. This blog elaborates on the major solution considerations for migrating to the public cloud and CRM modernization approaches.
Key solution considerations while moving to public cloud
While determining the public cloud migration strategy, organizations must review their core solution considerations against the targeted business objectives to chart out the right migration path.
Some of the important solution considerations (non-exhaustive) are listed below.
- Prioritization of business capabilities – prioritize key business capabilities for redesign and simplification. Leverage design thinking to remap essential customer journeys that need enabling on the cloud.
- Streamline business processes – rethink and redesign end-to-end process journeys; implement more innovative to-be business processes while moving to the cloud.
- Modularize application architecture – define the segmented architecture for different CRM modules matching organizational operating structures. For example, there could be one CRM instance for all business segments or separate (but integrated) CRM instances for specific segments.
- API-fication – modernizing legacy interfaces by building APIs and micro-services as a façade to legacy technologies. Organizations can consider new API platforms, open frameworks, and other modern technologies/capabilities available on the public cloud to build APIs and micro-services. These lightweight APIs and micro-services would provide the right level of abstraction to shorten the cycle time to design and deploy new changes involving interfaces.
- Loose coupling of systems and dependencies – hard coupling has been a significant impediment for innovation in legacy implementations. While considering a move to the public cloud, the solution must ensure loose coupling of systems and applications. The end-to-end journeys should be fully integrated with an option for interfacing applications to manage their side of changes independently.
- Inter-operability – the selection must consider compatible solution components on the cloud. This could be a combination of open-wares and licensed wares.
- Interactive user interface (UI), user experience (UX), and customer experience (CX) design – CRM packages on cloud offer UI agnostic solutions. The organizations can choose the user interface as available out of the box or define their preferred bespoke presentation/UI layer leveraging standard CRM package capabilities as a backend. This allows organizations to focus on experience-led design and enable omnichannel experiences.
- Scalability – This is one of the most exciting features of the cloud. Organizations can now scale (both upwards and downwards) while rolling out solutions. There is no need to have colossal planning and commitment cycles to deliver new products and solutions. There is an added advantage to un-commit (downsize) resources on the cloud if a particular solution or product hasn’t scaled in line with business expectations.
- Automation – automate testing and building DevOps capabilities by investing in enhanced CI/CD frameworks. This is a significant lever enabling organizations to deploy quality solutions more frequently and quicker.
- Non-functional assessments – the solution must assess both functional and non-functional aspects. Below non-functional parameters must be assessed as part of the overall solution to ensure the right fitment:
- Local Availability
- Data Storage and Archival
- Configuration Management/CI/CD Tools
- Accreditation and Auditing
- Wider Availability of Solution Components
Modernization Approach – migration path to public cloud
There are three broader approaches to migrating and modernizing your CRM application at the outset. Of course, there could be certain variations but are broadly aligned to the listed three approaches.
- Lift and shift
- Simplify and migrate
- New CRM cloud application
1. Lift and shift
This approach involves migrating the existing native on-premise application as-is to the cloud without undertaking any business process or architecture simplification exercise. Depending on the existing CRM technology type/COTS provider, the forward migration path would mostly involve IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) or PaaS (Platform as a service) solution unless offered as SaaS (Software as a service) solution by COTS provider. The lift and shift approach will bring immediate benefits typically associated with the public cloud (e.g., cost savings, scale, security, access to modern technologies etc.). However, some of the existing technical debt will be carried over to the public cloud, which needs to be progressively addressed. However, this is a low-risk option with quick benefits realization opportunity with deliberate carry-over of technical debt.
2. Simplify and migrate
This approach involves simplifying the existing on-premise CRM application before migration to the cloud. This approach enables an opportunity to streamline business functions and processes and simplify and modularize architecture before moving to the cloud. The most significant advantage is that the business/IT teams can work collaboratively to address the existing debt on the stack and ensure a lean CRM application migration to the public cloud. Given that some pre-migration work is needed, this approach is relatively more time-consuming but ensures a revamped and more strategically aligned CRM stack on the cloud.
3. New CRM cloud application
This approach involves setting up a new CRM application (greenfield or brownfield) on the public cloud, co-existing with the legacy on-premise CRM application. The approach doesn’t involve modernizing the existing legacy application; however, legacy apps are used for business continuity until strategic CRM applications are fully enabled on the cloud. As a result, there could be few tactical investments on legacy applications to ‘keep the lights on until they are eventually retired. This option is the riskiest and most expensive but ensures no immediate change impacts.
Move to the public cloud with a focus on re-usable micro-services and modular architecture has enabled a new set of opportunities and possibilities. Organizations now have an option to think beyond the regular CRM technology implementation matters. Instead, they can focus on customer engagement and differentiation strategy, leveraging the core CRM platform capabilities. Organizations can develop automated frameworks and create digital CRM assets leveraging the cloud. Organizations can deploy more frequently and quicker than ever by breaking the traditional expensive and time-consuming deployment cycles.
There is an option to expand the CRM technology landscape via deploying modern solutions like hyper-personalization, artificial intelligence, machine learning, omnichannel enablement, self-managed sales/service experiences, connected social interactions, and more. For instance, launching a new personalization campaign, working on up-sell opportunities, or resolving a customer inquiry on social channels would make for a better priority for businesses than dealing with system constraints, managing technical upgrades, or other captive center maintenance requirements.
While the shift to the cloud is highly recommended, the organizations must map and assess both functional and non-functional requirements – this would help ascertain the right fitment and implementation strategy for cloud solutions. Ultimately, the true success criteria of modern CRM would be creating new digital customer experiences and transforming the way organizations engage with their customers.
Ashish Sahi is a Principal Consultant in Digital Advisory practice at Infosys Consulting. Ashish brings expertise in business and IT strategy, experience design, operating model design, digital technology advisory, program delivery management, cloud computing, data and product management. Ashish has strong global experience in leading digital transformation engagements. Ashish is an avid learner, firm believer in continuous up-skilling and enjoys problem solving using digital solutions.