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Undiscovered potential for CIOs: Controlled replacement of core systems
Jasper Kloost, Thinkwise CTO claims that many CIOs are not aware of the possibility to replace core systems in a controlled manner. With a background in Computer Science and many years of experience within the Research & Development department, he is in charge of innovation.
Since his first steps at Thinkwise in 2004, he has seen how the company has grown from a small start up in Apeldoorn into an important player in the low-code market, with their platform that is used in more than 42 countries. In this article he reveals the possibilities that are often overlooked and he invites CIOs to increase their knowledge about the controlled replacement of core systems, an approach that can offer new perspectives for modern business innovation.
As the CTO, Kloost is in charge of the Research & Development department, which employs around 35 people. Mainly developers, but also DevOps engineers, testers, UI/UX designers and technical writers. “Together with my team, I am responsible for the continued development of our platform. We have to continually ask ourselves, where do we want to be five years from now and which steps do we have to take to get there. That applies technologically as well as functionally”, he says.
Of course, developments in the market also demand this. Kloost: “Twenty years ago we had no customers that wanted to operate their ERP application in the cloud, let alone on their mobile phones. We are continuously adapting our platform in line with technological developments, thereby ensuring that customers no longer have to concern themselves with this problem. And, in so doing never again create legacy.”
Because one of the strongest points of Thinkwise is the separation of the business model from the technology. The technology is uncoupled from the application blueprint. The technology can be replaced without this impacting the application. Thinkwise ensures that the technology always remains up to date. “Companies are often stuck with inflexible legacy software. That restricts a company's development. IT teams have to spend too much time on maintenance. If you transfer to a more sustainable business operation and ensure that the core software is flexible, then you have far more time available for innovation. However, what frequently happens is that a lot of effort is put into developing peripheral applications, which are built alongside the core system.”
Thinkwise is the only low-code platform that completely specializes in large, complex applications, such as business-critical ERP, WMS or MRP systems. With thousands of users, millions of records and implementations across several continents. Why don't more companies transfer to more flexibility? According to Kloost it is often disbelief. “Very often CIOs do not know that a core system can be replaced in a controlled manner. It has often taken thirty years to arrive at the current core system. It feels like a tremendous risk to replace it. The traditional way of redeveloping the software would also be far too radical; it would cost too much time and money. The alternative is standard software, but the business processes then have to be adapted to fit the software. The Thinkwise platform allows you to modify the applications to fit the processes.”
If you transfer to a more sustainable business operation and ensure that the core software is flexible, then you will have far more time available for innovation.
Decisions of this nature are often taken in the boardroom, where the CEO and CFO normally take the lead. Companies often still see IT as playing a supporting role, says Kloost. “To convince the various parties we prefer to give a demonstration. Provide us with a copy of your enterprise system and we will anonymously upcycle it to the Thinkwise platform.”
Another reason to opt for the Thinkwise platform is the shortage in the labor market. “Our platform is especially suitable for real developers. But because the development environment is optimized and the software can be modelled it is no longer necessary to write millions of lines of code. On average, Thinkwise development teams are 85 percent smaller than teams in other development projects, according to research by research firm QSM. This helps CxOs to address the people shortage issue.”
The customer always remains in control of his own environment. “Thinkwise applications are platform agnostic and can therefore run on premise as well as in the cloud. You retain ownership. CIOs do not need to lie awake at night worrying about vendor lock-in. The customer can access all their data and logic for themselves. We are continuously working on new developments and the integration of new techniques into the platform. For example, we want to integrate Machine Learning in the user interfaces and we are investigating the possibilities offered by speech controlled interfaces. In addition, we want to make the core software increasingly faster and more efficient. It generally applies that systems that are faster, more efficient and inexpensive in use lead to a greener environment. So, in that respect we are also involved with sustainability. We naturally work ourselves with the Thinkwise platform. And the continued development of the development environment itself is also carried out with the Thinkwise platform. Therefore, the platform itself will never become outdated”, decides Kloost.