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Transform 5 min

Mohan Aiyaswami: Can elephants dance? How should traditional organisations approach modernisation?

We, the technology people, lost track of how to build business cases for the business. We started building businesses focusing on selling the next big thing within IT.  The result is today’s IT landscape built up from that thinking.”

Keynote Focus

Do you work in a large, traditional organisation where governance and ancient processes overpower transformation efforts? Learn the mindset, strategies, and tactics from this keynote by Mohan Aiyaswami – a former CTO and CISO, who transformed massive systems, technologies, and mindsets within Australian Defence.

This also relates to one of ADAPT’s 12 Core Competencies, Modernising Legacy, which discusses this topic at length.


Key Findings

How we ended up with Legacy Infrastructure?

Today’s legacy within the IT landscape is a result of IT leaders’ desire for new technologies. They built IT landscape based on “what’s the latest toy in the market” mindset, rather than “what is the most effective technology for a business outcome” thought. To stop accumulating a legacy stack of IT, CIOs need to move away from this mindset.

How Shadow IT happened?

The IT leaders built their teams based on power structures and what they thought was the business for a particular technology. The delivery was not on time, nor within budget, which resulted in a disconnect between what the business wanted from IT and what was delivered. Hence, businesses started setting up their own IT shops, which we now defame as Shadow IT.

Conflicting business priorities

At times, everyone’s understanding of business needs is disconnected and conflicting. Keep in mind that we are not solving a cloud-related problem, we are here to solve an actual business problem. To understand that, we need to know “who is the real customer and what do they need?”

Digitise Business Processes

Clear information architecture is key to the digitisation and digital transformation. For that, you need digitised business processes and workflows, which do not exist today. Move the conversation from the current “IT infrastructure and applications requirements document around” to the “information requirements document”.

Don’t forget about Cybersecurity

Begin your IT design by embedding security from the beginning and not as an afterthought. This is not limited to a compliance document; this is a holistic approach to ensure security at each stage.


Key advice

  • Spend time in planning properly – build and run will largely benefit from it.
  • Allow innovation to happen within the business. Controlled Shadow IT is okay! Enable business by providing guidance where required.
  • Start your cloud strategy with end-user experience, then build it around integration, cost, operations, security and risk.


ADAPT Research and Advisory clients can access the full keynote video of Mohan Aiyaswami’s presentation. Visit our page to learn more and gain access to hundreds of keynote videos from our Edge events.

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