In his role as Chief Technology Officer at Accenture, Thomas Musiolik focuses on helping financial institutions, telecommunications firms and resource companies in Luxembourg to adapt their IT architecture to the demands of today’s fast-changing markets. “The right IT architecture is the key enabler for your business,” says Musiolik. “Many companies are lacking the time and budget to put clean IT services in place, which involves evaluating the right tools, enhancing or rebuilding existing services, and cleaning up problematic fixes from earlier production bugs. Without the right IT architecture, issues continue adding up, becoming more and more difficult to unwind, clean, replace and eventually to understand.”
If not done as part of an integrated IT strategy, each tiny update and enhancement will contribute to a complex network of problems and lead to an unnecessarily long time-to-market. Musiolik compares the issue to overeating and a lack of sports. “Imagine, each time you have a problem to solve – a new requirement, a new regulation, a new business model – you build the solution on top of what you have,” says Musiolik. “In the end, your company becomes very complex and heavy to move, just like your body does if you eat lots and never do any exercise.”
Many companies are lacking or not taking the time and budget to put clean IT services in place.
The challenges of a failing IT architecture
Musiolik believes that most businesses are suffering along three lines. The first consequence of a failing IT architecture is functional debt, caused by limited agility and slow time-to-market. In this case, it can take months, even years, for a new idea to go live. The second pattern Musiolik has observed is structural debt. This pattern often demonstrates itself following one or more mergers and acquisitions, which normally leads to a high complexity of IT and a redundancy of many of the systems in place. The problem is for instance that several applications and tools are redundant and doing exactly the same thing. The third pattern is technical debt, which comes from a strong dependency on old technologies and outdated skills, such COBOL, C++ and old Java frameworks.
“When identifying problems in their IT architecture, our clients usually plan a large transformation, which takes them two or three years, and can cost up to EUR30 million,” explains Musiolik. “It initially brings them fast and flexible IT, which is good, but then they continue to add on top and on top. It gets expensive and complex, and requires another transformation after five to seven years. I’ve noticed that this cycle then repeats over and over again. But this huge effort and rollercoaster ride are not really necessary.” This is where Musiolik and his team at Accenture come in.
When identifying problems in their IT architecture, our clients usually plan a large transformation, which takes them two or three years and can cost up to EUR30 million.
A surprisingly simple solution
Musiolik’s job is to advise clients on how to efficiently transform their IT architectures into better-working systems. And the process, it seems, is surprisingly simple. “The key differentiator is that you have to manage and update your architecture regularly, just as you manage your requirements and features,” says Musiolik. “We have helped clients from many industries, including banking and public services, aviation and travel as well as retail, to avoid big transformations and thus to avoid big spending.”
In other words, what Musiolik and his team help clients to do is to create a flexible and continuously changing IT architecture, capable of adapting to the fast-changing markets of today and tomorrow. Today’s solutions are liquid, allowing data to flow in real-time, while using already-existing tools, a lot of them available in the cloud. “Many of these systems are out-of-the-box, meaning that they are not really expensive,” says Musiolik. They facilitate actions such as real-time fraud detection, customer behavior alerts and mainframe data offloading or simplifying significantly real-time analytics in the cloud.
We have helped clients from many industries, including banking and public services, aviation and travel as well as retail, to avoid big transformations and thus to avoid big spending.
A modular architecture is a must
An efficient IT system is one that is lightweight, liquid and microservice-driven, leveraging cloud solutions, artificial intelligence and large data. “Transforming the IT landscape into a modular architecture is a must, helping the firms also to simplify to connect and to leverage sufficiently any platforms or future blockchain solutions,” explains Musiolik. In markets where big players, start-ups and other new entrants are all competing for market share, a flexible IT architecture has become an essential factor. “Those who are able to adapt fast win and survive,” explains Musiolik.
Musiolik returns to the exercise analogy. “So, it really is like sports. You need to take care of your architecture regularly, just as you need to exercise regularly and not just once every five years,” he says. “If you don’t do that as part of your daily business, well, you or your company may not live a long healthy life.”