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Why do retailers need mainframe modernization?

Let’s accept it. The ‘good old (legacy) days’ for the retailers are gone forever. To survive and sprint ahead of the competition, they need their stores to look deluxe and offer a swift response, hyper-personalized experiences, and a completely hassle-free experience to their customers on the ground. It is because customer behavior has changed forever.

If there is something in the past many months of COVID-19 that everyone has learned, besides the cooking skills, it is online shopping. Even the traditional shoppers are now buying online. They want a real-time response, fast transactions, quick deliveries and more.

How do the retail stores match those expectations? Even though the store experience is still essential for the shoppers, the shopping patterns have changed drastically. As a result, retailers now need to bridge the gap between online and in-store experiences. And this is possible only through technology.

While most retailers use technologies either partially or wholly for their business operations, the need for a complete digital makeover has become more critical due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic has pushed all businesses to a tipping point where digital transformation is the only way forward. However, retail is one of the leading industries globally that still depend on mainframes, the legacy IT infrastructure, for their most critical business processing. And rightly so. Mainframes have been in use for more than 70 years now. They are the most reliable, fast, and secured platforms available today, and that is the reason why 71% of Fortune 500 companies still rely heavily on them for their IT transactions.

However, what has significantly evolved in these years is the volume of business and its technologies. Though mainframes are efficient at high-volume transaction processing, they are getting overloaded with the current surge. Another crucial issue with mainframe applications is the widening skill gap — for instance, its programming language COBOL. Most of the universities are not even teaching them in their course modules anymore. COBOL programmers are retiring, and the new ones are not interested to learn a historical language to maintain a legacy infrastructure. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly challenging to find resources.

It is evident why companies do not want to move away from mainframes. However, overloaded systems are not suitable for any business, especially for the retail industry. So, they either reinvent the wheel, which is futile in many ways, including the cost inefficiencies. Or, go for modernization, which is customized, cost-effective, and highly scalable.

What is Mainframe modernization?

Mainframe modernization is a process of migrating and improving an existing legacy mainframe footprint in interface, code, cost, performance, and maintenance to improve the agility of core applications. According to a McKinsey report, the pandemic has already accelerated the modernization of mainframe applications. And that 78% of companies have started at least one modernization program due to the pandemic. It could be either transitioning to microservice-based architecture, moving to Cloud, event streaming, or any other tools and solutions. The aim is to be agile and be real-time.

There are many use cases where companies have drastically reduced their MIPS (million instructions per seconds) using Hybrid Cloud integrated with their mainframe structure. There are many associated costs in mainframe systems like monitoring and troubleshooting, which get higher with increasing instructions. With modernization, data is distributed, saving millions for the companies.

Inevitably, there is still a lot that is going to change in the retail and technology worlds. Businesses need their IT systems to be agile, scalable, and resilient to provide an exceptional shopping experience online and in-store.

Further Readings

  1. Start Automating Your Data Pipelines With Apache Airflow
  2. What Is Metaverse? It’s Future And Technology Required To Get The Job

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