Application Modernization Trends for 2023

James Ardis
Chances are that your organization is already modernizing its legacy applications (or at least strongly considering it). In a recent survey, 87% of business leaders indicated modernization would be crucial for them to achieve business success in 2023.
White arrow against a blue background, symbolizing application modernization trends moving businesses forward
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Chances are that your organization is already modernizing its legacy applications (or at least strongly considering it). In a recent survey, 87% of business leaders indicated modernization would be crucial for them to achieve business success in 2023.

Where companies like yours sometimes struggle, though, is in figuring out the right modernization initiative to maximize business value. There are so many examples of successful application modernization initiatives. Which application modernization trend should your teams lean into?

The truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all application modernization trend; there are countless unique benefits of application modernization. Each organization has its own unique business goals and its own set of legacy applications that can help them reach those benchmarks.

Some companies will benefit most from adding generative AI capabilities to their legacy applications. Meanwhile, others will see the most return on investment by focusing on UI/UX enhancements.

In this article, we’ll look at several key application modernization trends for 2023 and consider what kinds of organizations will benefit from them. 

Incorporating Generative AI

First, let’s start with the biggest discussion in tech right now: ChatGPT and generative AI. Beyond generally being the most-discussed topic in the industry, these technologies are also a major application modernization trend for 2023.

The current and future use cases for ChatGPT and similar technologies are wide-ranging and hard to fully comprehend at this early stage. A recent Gartner article painted a broad picture of uses, from generating outbound marketing campaigns to the creation of new pharmaceutical drugs.

For modernization, generative AI can speed up development time of new features, allowing you to dynamically meet the needs of customers and employees.

This technology can also help you figure out what customers’ needs are in the first place. Generative AI can review the data you have internally faster than any employee and suggest next steps on what your customers may want based on the information provided.

You can even go a step further and make this technology customer-facing by using Azure AI Studio and other tools. This allows customers to ask questions or request resources and immediately get an appropriate response.

ChatGPT, one of the biggest application modernization trends in 2023, pulled up on someone’s phone with a neon green background


Consumers have generally been wary of similar technology in the past. Research suggests that consumer interest in ChatGPT was similarly low to start 2023. In January, only 11% of people had an interest in using the technology or had already used it, according to a Civic Science survey.

However, those numbers increased to 19% by May 2023. It’s difficult to know yet whether this is the start of an exponential climb in broad consumer interest in ChatGPT or if interest in the technology will soon reach its ceiling.

Our resident expert Rafael Dourado had a high opinion of ChatGPT and similar generative AI technologies when he recently completed his deep dive. He concluded that while we may fixate on the long-term potential for innovation in these technologies, ChatGPT can already move many organizations forward as it stands today.

Given the current discourse, it may be difficult to know if generative AI is an application modernization trend you should leverage or not. Remember that it is best not to adopt cutting-edge technology just for its own sake. Instead, the goal of application modernization should be to go with the solution that brings the most business value to your organization.

Line of AI robots, representing robotic process automation

Streamlining Processes with Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

While we’re talking about automation, let’s discuss robotic process automation. Organizations have been able to leverage RPA for much longer than they have generative AI. However, it remains a major application modernization trend for 2023.

With RPA, organizations can use specialized programs to automate repetitive tasks that were once completed by employees. Automating this work allows you to avoid human error, reduces the amount of time it takes to complete tasks, and frees employees to focus on more fulfilling work that requires abstract thinking.

Let’s look at an example from one of our clients in the healthcare industry. They help American oncology practices detect whether they undercharged Medicare and private insurance companies for certain procedures.

Given the complicated nature of insurance and Medicare billing in the United States, this is a tall order. Our client already partially leveraged robotic process automation to detect undercharged procedures. However, they still relied heavily on employee review on more complicated situations, leading to errors and stress for employees trying to understand complicated insurance policies.

Using our Fast-Track Application Modernization service, we iteratively added rules for these programs to follow, based on the most frequently-encountered healthcare billing cases. The client saw better results every 90 days, and, eventually, the system ran with little need for manual review.

Leveraging IoT (Internet of Things) Devices for Real-Time Data

It’s a cliché at this point to say that data is the most important asset organizations have. However, the fact that it’s a cliché makes it no less true. Every company relies on data to understand consumer trends, target inefficiencies, set major milestones, and much more.

In particular, the ability to track real-time data with the help of IoT (internet of things) devices has allowed for more nimble decision-making. Companies can now track and plan for changes in consumer and employee habits as they’re evolving instead of having to respond long afterwards.

What makes this a compelling application modernization trend is the ability to begin leveraging IoT devices to collect more high-quality data within your legacy applications. This allows for more accurate and faster insights from the applications you and your customers rely on.

Customer and employee using applications to complete a transaction

Here’s an example from one of our clients in the logistics industry. When we began working with this company, they only had 30% visibility into their truck fleets, meaning it was difficult for them to know if drivers were scheduled to arrive on time with their shipments. It was also hard to know if those drivers were taking their required rest breaks and if they were driving safely.

Utilizing IoT devices placed inside each truck and connecting those devices to a fleet management system, we were able to boost their visibility up to 100%. Now, fleet managers can proactively warn customers if their shipments are running late, assist drivers who are having consistent trouble making on-time deliveries, and properly discipline those who are engaging in unsafe driving behaviors.

The client saw the business impact throughout their organization. Delivery time was reduced by 20%, and overall deliveries increased by 15%.

Creating an Omnichannel Customer Experience Using System Integration

As organizations gather more data, consumers expect to receive a more personalized experience as a result. Recent research suggests that 66% of consumers believe companies should understand their needs and expectations. Meanwhile, 52% of these customers also expect that any commercial offer they receive from a company should be customized specifically for them.

Organizations should consider how they can give customers a consistently personalized experience across applications and in-person shopping, the “omnichannel” experience. For example, if a customer browses for a product on your website, then they should be suggested similar products in newsletters and in your phone application. Coupons the customer receives after in-store purchases can even be customized based on the customer data.

System integration will be an important process to make this application modernization trend a reality for your company. This ensures that crucial customer data (location, buying preferences, email address, etc.) is never siloed and can inform the experience the customer receives throughout your ecosystem.

For the customer, this also helps them not have to manually reenter information every time they visit your website or interact with one of your platforms, a seamless experience that they will appreciate.

Sketch of an application’s UI/UX with paint coloring each panel

UI/UX Upgrades

Personalizing the customer experience is important. However, another often-overlooked application modernization trend that can boost customer satisfaction and retention is UI/UX upgrades.

If employees and/or customers report having issues finding what they need within the legacy application or generally seem less engaged with it than they should be based on its capabilities, then a UI/UX-oriented modernization initiative may fit the bill.

We recently wrote a complete list of UX design tips for organizations like yours to consider. From properly collecting (and leveraging) user feedback to how long the UX team should stay involved in the development process, there is a lot to consider.

One important factor is ensuring that the user experience is consistent throughout the application. If new features deploy with an entirely different design, then it will be difficult for your users to understand what they are doing.

We helped one of our clients avoid this by creating a scalable UI/UX framework for them to follow. They were building a marketing analytics platform and wanted to make sure all its features, both present and future, would have the same intuitive interface.

The framework provided an easy-to-follow guide for all new features, ensuring consistency as they modernize the system. Plus, this allowed the client to save time and money in the design stage for all future development.

Cloud Migration

Migrating on-premises legacy applications to the cloud has likely been the most discussed modernization trend over recent years. Far from just a trendy term, cloud migration has many benefits for your organization, including better security, as you leverage the advanced security capabilities of cloud providers.

Beyond that, there are many other key benefits to cloud migration such as the ability to scale up and down usage as your customers’ and employees’ needs fluctuate. You also no longer need to pay for costly maintenance of on-premises servers.

Cloud migration can take a while to enact, so try iteratively moving the most vital features of your legacy system to this new environment. That’s how we approach cloud migration with our Fast-Track Application Modernization service, with new features moved to the cloud every 90 days.

We recently implemented this approach with a client in the education field. They had a student recruitment tool that universities used to monitor their engagement with high school seniors deciding between institutions.

Our client hosted the platform on-prem, which caused long delays for universities trying to upload data to the tool during peak recruitment season. It often took as long as one day to upload this information.

We iteratively moved the student recruitment tool to the cloud, providing a consistently better experience for the institutions our client serves. At the end of the initiative, data that once took one day to upload only took one hour, boosting customer retention and brand reputation.

Professional browsing a modernized application on their phone while working on code

Final Thoughts

There are countless application modernization trends your organization can leverage depending on its objectives. If you’re looking to improve customer experience, a UI/UX redesign or integrating systems to create an omnichannel experience could be the right approach.

Meanwhile, for those looking to improve internal efficiency, generative AI can cut down development time. Robotic process automation can also reduce the number of redundant, manual steps your employees need to take. Learn more about beginning a legacy application modernization initiative.

If you would like help along the way deciding the right strategy for your unique goals, you can use our Application Modernization Assessment. This assessment helps you prioritize your business goals, pinpoint opportunities in your legacy systems to reach those goals, and plan a strategy to make progress every 90 days.

Let us know how we can help you.

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