New Forrester Study on KPIs
March 29, 2018 DevOps

New Forrester Consulting KPI Study Is a Must-read for the Mainframe

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I’ve been preaching the gospel of mainframe modernization for years. That’s because it has been obvious for a while that 1) mainframe applications are invaluable and indispensable enterprise assets, 2) slow, obsolete waterfall-bound mainframe development practices are potentially fatal to companies competing in fast-paced digital markets and 3) the generational shift in mainframe stewardship makes improved mainframe tooling essential.

Well, last week Forrester Consulting published results from a study commissioned by Compuware entitled, “Modern Mainframe KPIs Are Key To A Successful Digital Strategy.” The study affirms the longevity of mainframe systems and the importance of modernizing mainframe DevOps—while also suggesting that many IT leaders are not prioritizing the right KPIs for that modernization.

Why Mainframe Modernization Is So Urgent

Forrester’s findings make it clear that several issues make it crucial to invest in mainframe modernization. One of these findings is that the mainframe is becoming more—not less—important to the digital enterprise. According to the survey, 64 percent of enterprises with mainframes will run more than half of their critical applications on the platform within the next year. That’s up—not down—from 57 percent this year.

Also, 72 percent of customer-facing applications at these enterprises are completely or very reliant on mainframe processing. This is consistent with McKinsey & Company’s findings that over 60 percent of the highest value technology projects require collaboration and delivery from multiple technology groups. So continuous competitive differentiation of the customer experience is largely contingent upon continuous innovation on mainframe back-end systems of record.

At the same time as the mainframe is growing in importance, however, enterprises are only replacing about one out of the three hands-on platform veterans they lose through retirement. Simply put, as enterprise requirements for mainframe DevOps continue to grow, the number of skilled mainframe DevOps professionals continues to decline. Without a force-multiplier, this is an unsolvable problem to a mission-critical priority.

And there’s no way anyone is going to attract new talent to the mainframe with old-fashioned, waterfall-bound “green screen” tools that haven’t had a significant refresh in more than a decade. New, intuitive Agile-friendly tools are therefore a must—not an option—if you’re going to re-staff your mainframe and achieve better results.

Why Mainframe Modernization Needs the Right KPIs

Forrester Consulting also found that while many enterprises are now starting to up their mainframe game after years of complacency and disinvestment, they may not all be heading in exactly the right direction.

Of particular concern is the fact that while many organizations are heavily focused on mainframe application quality, other imperatives such as velocity and efficiency aren’t getting the same level of attention. For example, 55 percent of survey respondents ranked application quality as “extremely important,” while only 42 percent and 46 percent respectively gave the same ranking to velocity and efficiency.

That inappropriate weighting is likely driven by an obsolete traditional mainframe culture with roots that date back to a time when frequent code-drops and rapid responsiveness to highly nimble competitors was not a life-and-death issue. But to compete today, large enterprises must be capable of quickly and frequently updating back-end systems-of-record code.

That’s why Forrester recommends that enterprise IT leaders make sure they pick the right KPIs for their mainframe modernization and continuous improvement efforts. According to the study’s authors, “Firms that measure and drive performance in the three key areas of quality, velocity, and efficiency expect better customer experience, increased speed-to-market, and increased agility in digital business.”

The complete report is available here. I strongly recommend you read it if your organization runs its core systems of record on the mainframe. Any enterprise that hopes to stay competitive in today’s Darwinian digital market must engage in aggressive, continuous mainframe modernization. And that modernization must focus on all relevant KPIs—not just application quality—because your mainframe systems of record must be nimble and you must aggressively compensate for your loss of institutional platform knowledge.

Download the Study

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.