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5 Takeaways from the Unleashing Innovation Panel at #G2I2018

Last week, experts from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), TD Ameritrade, and the First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO) came together in St. Louis at Gateway to Innovation to discuss how their organizations have shifted away from their traditional business practices to leveraging cloud-based platforms.


In the 45-minute session, the panelists shared their stories on how they began the move to cloud-based platforms, their tips for other organizations, and the challenges they’ve faced along the way.  What does successful modernization look like for enterprise organizations spanning everything from banking to intelligence?

Here are five main takeaways from the session to consider as you look to extend the value of legacy applications by moving to the cloud:

1. Plant the first seed before organically growing your digital transformation

Vijay Sankaran, Chief Information Officer at TD Ameritrade, emphasized the importance of “planting the first seed” as you begin your broader transformation.  Making a first investment in a platform service, such as Pivotal Cloud Foundry, can serve as that first seed.  From there, being able to show the value of the investment can expedite the process of transformation.  TD Ameritrade has been on an agile journey for just over two years and in the first eighteen months they went from 0% to 50% agile.  Product owners began talking amongst themselves about the positive impact of PCF and this ultimately leveraged a common architecture that has led to organic digital transformation growth.

2. Look at digital transformation holistically

Sankaran also suggested trying to outline a roadmap of where you want to end up with your digital transformation.  It is important to think through how this will affect your organization as a whole – from getting to market sooner for your customers to the change in day to day for your developers.  Even if you are only building a roadmap as a guidepost, it will be invaluable in helping to navigate your digital transformation.  Otherwise, you may miss the big picture!

3. Focus on experience

Mark Munsell, Deputy CIO of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, pointed to the importance of “hiring the person with the most experience.”  Adapting your existing IT infrastructure and applications is challenging and costly.  Leveraging cloud-based platforms can be an overwhelming process, despite the value benefits.  Having a partner with expertise and knowledge in re-platforming and re-architecting is invaluable.  Platforms such as PCF offer the ability to extend the value of your legacy applications with support throughout the process.

4. Transformation takes time

“Our journey isn’t quite as magical,” added Munsell.  He addressed the “missteps” that came along with the transformation and sited the biggest challenge as lacking internal resources.  While they have begun hiring developers, much of the work at the NGA was originally outsourced.  He reiterated the importance of experience, pointing to the need for developers with the necessary basis of knowledge.  Regardless of what causes missteps, they are bound to happen since innovating technologies isn’t easy and often requires modifying them to fit your organization’s needs.  Being flexible and adjusting when you get something wrong is key to success when it comes to digital transformation.

5. Both business metrics and mission metrics matter

When asked how they measure value and progress as they transform, our panelists pointed to both business and mission metrics as indicators.  Steve Helms, the Director of Enterprise Integration at the First National Bank of Omaha, explained that in order to identify value and progress, you first need to know what your goals are as you move to a cloud-based platform.  For FNBO, they needed to get to market more quickly and they needed to improve on applications that lacked in test automation and quality analytics.  By migrating to a cloud-based platform, they saw improvement with these problems.

Munsell explained that the NGA has to measure differently based on their specialized security situation and drastically different field.  For them, their mission of “getting you halfway there in one day” guides their successes within their transformation.

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Lindsay Wang

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