Why Retail Businesses Are Modernizing – and Doing it Now | Quisitive

Retail businesses are right on the front line of our economy. The market forces that affect businesses tend to hit the retail sector first and hit it hardest. This pressures retailers to change more quickly and more dramatically than many other businesses. That’s why right now, many retail businesses are working to modernize their software technology. And rightly so: staying with their legacy technology is hampering their success more than ever before. If your business is in the retail sector, application modernization is probably at the top of your list of concerns – and if it is not, it should be.

Why modernize now?

A host of factors are pushing retail businesses towards modernization. Some are larger economic forces, and some are responses to evolving customer needs. But they are all pushing retailers to consider how well their technology is keeping up. For most, staying with legacy technology hampers their success more than ever before.

Some of the forces affecting retailers include:

With all these pressures, it’s clear that the need for a modernized technology portfolio is a key need in the retail space.

The Benefits of Modernization for Retailers

It’s true that modernization involves cost and effort. However, many businesses rightly consider it an investment and use it to realize long-term benefits to operations and the bottom line. Here are a few examples of how Quisitive has helped businesses in the retail and customer service sectors to modernize and make significant returns on their investment.

Getting Staff on—and off—the Floor

A customer-facing business was trying to staff its locations better. Over-staffing led to out-of-control costs, and under-staffing led to fewer satisfied customers. The company realized that they could improve their operations significantly by staffing their individual locations more effectively..

By moving their software to an Azure data platform, they were able to aggregate company data from multiple sources, including their ERP and inventory systems nationwide. This data enabled them to identify over- and under-performing stores based on revenue versus staff on the floor. With this knowledge, the company was able to adjust each location’s scheduling to staff it more effectively. This was only possible through modernizing their apps and moving them to the cloud, where their data could be brought together and analyzed effectively.

Building Better Customers

Converting potential customers to a loyal, repeat customer is truly the holy grail of online retailing. Quisitive worked with an online retailer to analyze their customers’ sales journey, seeking ways to influence buyers to purchase the products they want most. As part of modernizing, the company aggregated data from user searches on their online storefront and applied Machine Learning to correlate terms and analyze patterns to figure out what customers were actually searching for.

With this analysis, the retailer was able to adjust their website dynamically to predict users’ demographics and desired products, and present to them the items they were most interested in—whether the customer knew it or not. The result was a significantly enhanced customer experience and increased customer retention, which will only improve as the customer dataset continues to grow.

A Modernization Success Story

A leading automotive parts retailer did an Azure Assessment that outlined their potential for moving to the cloud. They decided to migrate their most complex application, their POS system, to the Azure Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) model. Migrating this application to Azure would serve as an example to the rest of the organization, as well as make the migration of remaining workloads from their datacenter more seamless. But this was a big first step – not typical for a modernization approach.

Quisitive designed and deployed an Azure Landing Zone to support the organization’s environment. During this process, Quisitive evaluated the Azure Landing Zone against Microsoft’s best practices and Cloud Adoption Framework, defined any gaps in deployment, and built out as required to support anticipated workloads.

With the build-out of their Azure Landing Zone, this organization now has the proper foundation for their modernization initiatives and can benefit from the cost savings and built-in support provided by Azure PaaS services. Additionally, the migration of their most complex application has inspired the organization’s confidence in Azure, creating an easier path for modernizing the rest of the company’s application portfolio.

The Modernization Process

The idea of modernizing a company’s entire environment of applications can be daunting, even overwhelming. To address this, Quisitive developed its On-Ramp to Application Modernization (ORTAM) process to help clients work through their modernization. Broadly, the steps in ORTAM are:

Throughout the process, change control and communications are key to ensuring each wave of the modernization effort is a success.

Moving Forward on Modernization

Quisitive has helped retail partners realize great benefits by modernizing their applications. Unlocking the data held in siloed applications and connecting locations and data from across their enterprises have provided significant return on investment for retail businesses that have followed the modernization path.

Our experience with application modernization, with the Azure environment, and with the retail sector ensures that we can help minimize disruption, maximize effectiveness, and deliver a migration that will be cost-effective and beneficial.

Contact us to speak to our modernization experts today.

Modernizing Applications in manufacturing organizations blog feature image. A woman in a hard hat and vest checks data on her tablet on the manufacturing floor

Manufacturing businesses know that margins are incredibly tight, and efficiency is paramount for an organization’s success. Even small improvements can reap huge dividends in output and profitability. Yet many manufacturers neglect an important part of their businesses: the software assets that they depend on to control and monitor them. Modernizing applications is an important step towards improvements in your production process overall. And whether you take on the challenge of modernizing your applications or not, every sign points to your competitors doing it to find the advantages in production and cost reductions.

What will modernizing applications do for you?

Many organizations regard initiatives like application modernization as an unwanted cost and put it off as long as they can. They might be missing a real opportunity. Although the modernization process might be complex and costly, the return on this investment is often extremely high.

Manufacturers who modernize their applications find significant improvements in productivity, reductions in downtime, and better use of resources. This might result from reducing the effort and cost of maintaining a suite of on-premises legacy applications. It could be from using more detailed data to better control inventory and production. Or it might be from monitoring equipment better to maintain it more effectively and thereby reduce downtime.

In fact, a recent study of the manufacturing sector worldwide by industry experts IDC found significant trends for manufacturers who were modernizing their technology assets. Manufacturers are increasingly using big data, artificial intelligence, and Internet of Things (IoT) as they modernize.

IDC’s study predicts that companies in the manufacturing industry will make significant moves towards modernization in the next two to ten years, including:

The trends are clear. The days of on-premises software and siloed applications are rapidly slipping away. Modernizing your technology will soon be not only a competitive advantage but a necessity for success in the industry.

A modernization success story

One of Quisitive’s recent clients, a leading global manufacturer of thermoplastic composite components, electrical and fiber optic connectors, and other engineered components, recently confronted this very reality. With a wide range of customers across the aerospace, industrial, medical, petrochemical, and pharmaceutical industries, they wanted to improve their manufacturing processes.

The organization engaged Quisitive in April 2020, looking for a partner that could assist with their initiative to digitize their manufacturing processes. Quisitive’s analysis identified some key needs for the company. They needed to further develop their data warehouse so that they could accurately report on the entire product manufacturing process, and they needed to use machine learning to identify outliers in sensor data.

Quisitive enacted their On-Ramp to Azure Data program to help the company move forward on meeting these needs. The solution Quisitive implemented enabled the client to consume a wide range of data, whether it was streamed or batched. Using Azure Data Factory, the company was able to integrate their existing code and migrate their data sources. Quisitive also completed knowledge transfer sessions on data integration and provided supporting Azure documentation to ensure a smooth transition for the organization.

With the assistance they received from Quisitive, the customer is now positioned to track product quality and monitor machine parameters throughout their manufacturing processes, enabling them to perform maintenance proactively and shut down production processes before a product quality issue occurs.

Modernizing applications with Quisitive

The idea of modernizing a company’s entire environment of applications can be daunting, even overwhelming. To address this, Quisitive developed its On-Ramp to Application Modernization (ORTAM) process to help clients work through their modernization. Broadly, the steps in ORTAM are:

Throughout the process, change control and communications are key to ensuring each wave of the modernization effort is a success.

Moving Forward on Modernization

Quisitive has partnered with multiple manufacturing partners to help them modernize their applications, with significant success. Our experience with application modernization, with the Azure environment, and with the manufacturing sector ensures that we can help minimize disruption, maximize effectiveness, and deliver a migration that will be cost-effective and beneficial.

Contact us to speak about modernizing applications with our experts today.

On-Demand: Microsoft Application Modernization for Manufacturing
Watch the Application Modernization for Manufacturing Webinar sponsored by Quisitive & presented in partnership with Microsoft.


  • Current trends in manufacturing
  • Impact of application modernization for manufacturing customers
  • How to achieve a modernized application portfolio

Explore more technology solutions for manufacturing organization.

On-Demand: Microsoft Application Modernization for Retail
Watch the Application Modernization Webinar for Retail sponsored by Quisitive & presented in partnership with Microsoft.

Key Takeaways

  • Current trends in retail
  • Impact of application modernization for retail customers
  • How to achieve a modernized application portfolio

Explore more technology solutions for retail organizations

Tech debt. You implemented a suite of applications back when your company required them, and they got you where you needed to be. But is your software still working for you, or are you now working for it? While the legacy investment you made might still provide some productivity, it might not be sustainable.

But modernizing your whole suite—not to mention the platform you’re on, and all your infrastructure—is difficult, disruptive, and, let’s face it, pretty scary. There are a whole host of reasons you haven’t modernized yet.

There’s no sugar-coating it: modernization is not an easy process. 

But maybe it’s not as big a problem as you think.

The money you might spend on modernization is an investment, not a cost. You’re already wasting resources on workarounds and maintenance to keep legacy systems running. Updates and fixes take far more time than they should. You’re investing not just in a new application platform, but in improved operations overall.

So let’s look at the most common reasons that decision makers don’t modernize, and why they are really reasons to move forward—fast.

1. Modernization takes forever and we don’t have the resources

Too much time, effort, and resources are being consumed by just having to maintain the legacy applications. So how are you going to find the time to add and refine features?

A common problem with legacy applications is trying to hire or keep people with domain knowledge. This can cause a lack of productivity. Not to mention, the legacy applications may no longer fit the work. Now resources are being used up trying to patch and maintain the legacy application, or coming up with workarounds to make it usable, rather than actually doing the work that’s needed.

Modernizing applications reduces that resource tax and provides a measurable increase in productivity. When employees have applications and technology that fit how and what they are working on, productivity increases.

Modernization doesn’t even need to be the huge, all-encompassing project that many fear it will be. You might have more options than you expect. You might think your only options are to replace or rewrite all of your legacy applications. The key is to find a solution that really works for you, and the proven path that will take you there.

2. Modernization is a cost sink, with no real benefits

Maybe you can see that modernization has to happen, but you’re worried that it’s just a money pit. You need to make a significant investment just to keep from falling behind—but you could burn a lot of capital without getting farther ahead. Maybe all those workarounds aren’t so bad when you compare them to the major spend that a modernization effort requires.

For many companies, though, there are other benefits—possibly major benefits—that can come along with modernizing applications. It’s not just throwing money into a pit. It’s creating new opportunities that a modern platform can provide.

One of the most important benefits companies find when they modernize their applications is the new opportunities to use their data. Legacy applications and their outdated data structures can be extremely difficult to link to, use, and perform analytics on. But moving to a modern cloud platform, for example, could enable you to implement a tool like Azure Data Services, enabling you to unlock and leverage your application data in new ways.

In a case like this, modernizing your applications isn’t just about the applications themselves; it can help put all of your assets, your data included, to work.

3. Employees will Hate It

It doesn’t matter if your staff are the ones complaining the loudest about your old application. They will resist a major change like application modernization. Personnel can be rightly cynical when big changes come along. Lack of preparedness and communication are often to blame, but disrupting their work and changing their processes inevitably cause stress for employees.

When a modernization effort goes right, though, the result is applications that are more aligned to the work that employees are doing. Time is no longer dedicated to annoying workarounds. Applications are no longer dictating how and when the work gets done. Staff will feel empowered and satisfied, and productivity can increase substantially.

So rather than put off modernization because of the disruption it will cause your business, embrace it as the key to a remarkable business improvement and a more engaged workforce. Working with an experienced and effective partner is essential for augmenting a great technical solution with a strong communication and change management plan that increases the rapid adoption and embracing of the application on its new platform. Getting employee input from the get-go, to really understand what they need from the application, and then informing staff each step of the way what is happening and when, can ensure that the effort isn’t just accepted by your staff, but celebrated by them. 

4. The disruption will be more than it’s worth

When you start to plan a modernization effort, you’ll find that everyone’s expectations are extremely high. No downtime. No disruption to regular business. Controlled cost. Tight schedule. The top decision-makers are going to demand—and expect—the world in return for spending on modernization.

There’s often very little room, and it’s tempting to take a staged solution. This has its own risks: if you implement an interim solution, you can lose support for stages that are later in the modernization effort. And when that happens, the interim solution may become permanent, while still not solving the bigger issues.

But a modernization effort doesn’t have to happen this way. Cloud technology has matured a great deal in recent years. By employing best practices to move your applications to the cloud, you can ensure that your modernization goes smoothly. Those best practices should include the whole effort, too—not just the technology solution, but the assessment, planning, training, and communications components of the project as well.

With the right plan, and the right partner to help lead your organization through the application modernization process, the disruption can be controlled, and so can the cost and the schedule. When you complete it successfully, the costs will likely pale next to the benefits and advantages of your modernized suite.

Modernization: Your Business Is Worth It

Quisitive has acted as the partner for many organizations modernizing their applications and moving to the cloud. We work to ensure  their modernization projects are completed successfully, and with minimal disruption.

To address the specific needs of modernization projects, in fact, Quisitive has developed a practice called ORTAM—the On-Ramp To Application Modernization. This systematic, iterative approach, led by our application modernization and migration experts, is designed to kickstart innovation and avoid the many pitfalls that organizations fear.

As a Microsoft-only partner, Quisitive is uniquely positioned to help customers define best practices to manage the change processes and adopt the cloud successfully.

There might be many reasons why you haven’t modernized your technology resources yet; but you can see that they shouldn’t hold you back from achieving the benefits of bringing your applications to the cloud. Talk to Quisitive and get started on the path to a better technology today.

Learn more about how you can get started with Quisitive’s On-Ramp to Application Modernization program.

The difference between cloud software design and traditional architectures is that cloud software design takes advantage of principles such as decentralization, self-healing, asynchronous, elasticity, and polyglot persistence. As a result, before migrating existing applications, some housekeeping is in order. Below are 5 steps to take before migrating your apps to Azure.

1. Security

You should already be performing penetration tests on any apps exposed to the internet. You should also be doing source code vulnerability scans with your favorite tool and taking steps to remediate any potential problems. Other typical practices include endpoint security, data encryption, connection string vaulting, logging, and securing any access secrets. These operations should be a part of your current development process and are major steps toward ensuring cloud application security. If you feel there are gaps in your security posture, then get an independent assessment. Once you’ve done all you can on the ground, it’s now time to turn your attention to cloud security.

Azure’s Assumed Breach Strategy is where you’ll start. Understanding that it’s not if, but when a breach will occur, helps to prepare you organization for the inevitable attack.  Furthermore, on the application side, Azure’s Cloud App Security Framework will help ensure you’re protected (see below).

2. Get your code off the ground

The goal is to eliminate the clutter, so you can focus on the business of software, including DevOps infrastructure. Stop using TFS and build servers and move all source code repos to Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) and Git. Take the opportunity to define or refine your pipelines and delivery processes. Automate everything including tests, builds, deployments, notifications, defect entry, and task promotion. Remove any human interaction with these processes and you’ll decrease errors, bugs, and defects dramatically.

Let’s stop treating our servers like household pets and more like cattle. Put those TFS servers to pasture and let someone else handle walking the dog.

3. App Dependency Mapping

You could not have picked a better time to move your apps to Azure. There are few reasons left for not moving to the cloud. The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, and your CEO is probably wondering why you’re not already there. But let’s tap the brakes a bit and continue cloud preparations through documentation and diagrams.

In-house apps, developed over time, will have forgotten complexities and integration points that if not considered before cloud migration, could stifle success. However, in most cases simple consideration and remediation will typically thwart any issues. This starts with knowing and depicting app dependencies.

Knowledge that your apps use Windows GAC, are wired into antiquated vendor services, are dependent on data movement processes, require special hardware integrations, or use 3rd party libraries that are no longer supported, is key to a successful and timely migration. These items are easily handled by various Azure components, but planning for them and expecting them is more effective than being reactive.

There are multiple tools to help with this endeavor; however, you’ll still want to examine and debug the code, interview developers, and meet with app users as this discovery process will help complete the picture. The final output should include app documentation and workflow diagrams that depict application dependencies.

4. Understand Azure Services

Organizations are looking for ways to innovate, reduce IT spend, and improve performance and they are banking on cloud technologies to help get them there. Understanding Azure cloud offerings will aid in all the aforementioned categories. Now you’ll have the ability to match right-sized and right-fit cloud components to your in-place applications. We are not interested in jamming the shiny new cloud toy into production, but pairing cloud services to app components that will indeed give you the benefits of leveraging Microsoft’s cloud.


As developers we generally adhere to the philosophy that simple is better and less is more, so let Azure handle the infrastructure while you focus on delivering business value. We do not want to patch servers, upgrade hardware, or worry about scale and whether my app will be resilient in a storm. We want to focus solely on developing great products for our business and customers. This is what Azure PaaS services do for us.

Below is a listing of traditional hosted services mapped to the Azure PaaS respective equivalent. This should serve as a starting point. It will take discovery and analysis to ultimately select the appropriate Azure PaaS solution.

HostedAzure PAAS
WebsiteWeb App, Blob Storage
wcf sERVICEWeb App, API App, Relays
API, Web APIAPI App, Logic App, Function, API Management
FilesFile Storage
imagesBlob Storage, CDN
videoMedia Services
messaging, Bus, msmqQueue Storage, Service Bus
SQL databaseAzure SQL, Elastic Pools
nosqlTable Storage, Cosmos DB
Document DBCosmos DB
warehouseData Warehouse, Data Lake
data movementData Factories
postgresqlPostgreSQL DB
integrationsLogic Apps, Connectors, Relays

NOTE: Azure PaaS services can handle most of the common programming languages and their platforms including: ASP.NET, Node.js, Python, C#, JavaScript, Java, PHP, TypeScript, Ruby, and Scripts  


Why should I implement containers? What business use cases do containers solve? Below is a high-level list of reasons to use containers.

Cons of containerization can include a substantial team learning curve, difficulty of tracking and debugging, maintenance of container images, and not all scenarios fitting the container model. Your CI/CD pipelines and general DevOps posture will also need attention. Again, careful consideration and building a suitable use case will ensure you are using containers wisely. One example is Microservices. You cannot implement microservices properly without containers and container orchestration, but this architecture typically assumes massive scale as a business requirement. Below are the current Azure container offerings.

Azure OfferingServiceNotes
Container servicesContainer orchestrationKubernetes, Docker Swam, DC/OS
Container RegistriesRepository of container imagesContainer housing/storage
Service fabric clustersStandalone node orchestratorRun anywhere on Windows Server
Container instancesSimple and scalable PaaS serviceDeploy single containers quickly and easily
Kubernetes servicesPaaS serviceManaged Kubernetes orchestration
OpenShiftRed Hat container platformContainer orchestration from Red Hat
Docker EE for AzureEnterprise-grade cluster managementTurnkey Docker container system in Azure

NOTE: As we speak, Azure is going to start offering Windows containers as an App Service. Currently ,App Services (PaaS) containers are only supported using the Linux OS.


You can simply “lift & shift” your applications to cloud infrastructure and mirror what on have on premises. This in part is why we can say, “if you can run it on premises, then it will run in the cloud”. Azure has done a marvelous job of making this scenario a reality. The only apps that will not run in any cloud are ones that are poorly architected, highly proprietary, or perform unpredictably. Avoid these apps.

We will leave IaaS options, design, and architecture for another post as they are extensive, but take note that most organizations have a mix of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS offerings to serve up their line of business applications. Choose the best tool for the job and use it wisely. Then optimize, optimize, and optimize again and remember:

  1. If it’s already written, don’t re-write it (SaaS)
  2. If you can abstract hardware, do so (PaaS)

5. Staff Readiness

As developers and technologists, it is our duty to keep pace. It is what we signed up for. The good news for developers is that between Visual Studio, Visual Studio Code, and Azure Cloud Shell we have everything we need for Azure cloud development. Microsoft, in transforming their business, has done a fantastic job of inclusion, open source, and BYOT (Bring your own tools), so many of your daily activities will be familiar. You simply need to focus on Azure and utilizing the educational resources provided by Microsoft. Below is a list of resources to help get you started.


Recognized as one of the top companies in the world in the information technology industry by DesignRush, Quisitive is here to help. At Quisitive our mantra is ‘Start Right, Finish Right’. Preparing your applications as well as yourself for cloud migration will ensure success. Don’t go this alone. Partner with trusted experts like us who can get you there quickly and then teach you how to maintain and optimize your estate. Migrating applications to Azure doesn’t have to be difficult. Iterative planning and careful preparation will make sure you’re on the right path.

Learn more about our approach to application migration here. 

It is now quite common to hear or read about an IT project or product that is positioned as evidence of an organization’s digital transformation journey. Often the project is based on the modernization of some legacy system or application and while there may be obvious justification for the initiative, I am seeing more and more instances where the association with digital transformation is a bit dubious and the outcome isn’t meeting the right expectations. There is certainly an eagerness to join the digital transformation wave, but I believe there is also a misdirected understanding that digital transformation is simply the adoption of modern technology. While there are cases when the alignment between modernization and digital transformation is real and appropriate (either by coincidence or intention), this is not a given and is becoming a common trap that leads to a lot of missed opportunities and misguided investments by organizations.

In my last article, I laid out a case for why digital transformation is a real phenomenon that is happening with or without your organization’s participation. However, this also means that digital transformation isn’t a strategy any more than virtual offices are a strategy. There is admittedly a fine line between dismissing and pandering to “digital transformation” and either extreme can have significant consequences. To strike the right balance, you should start by assessing how this phenomenon should impact your strategy and its execution.  These impact areas align to the offensive and defensive zones referenced in “Zone to Win” by Geoffrey A. Moore. Depending on your company’s current situation and culture, you may focus on how digital impacts your ability to optimize the execution and operation of your business. Examples of this would be utilizing different channels to improve customer support, collecting and analyzing more information to streamline processes, or implementing automation to increase delivery throughput. These are low-risk propositions that when properly executed will demonstrate positive returns.

If your company is already disrupted by digital or has a bigger appetite for change, you might choose to tweak your strategy to better position itself for the long term. This doesn’t necessarily mean a complete shift of your business model, but might represent a disruptive change to how you conduct business. If you manufacture goods today, you aren’t going to suddenly start developing mobile games, but you might determine that you can enable direct customer sales instead of going through a distribution ecosystem. That may not have been a realistic option in the past but the digital transformation phenomenon may now make that a possibility, albeit with significant ramifications to what has been successful in the past. These are higher-risk propositions because, even when you properly execute the change, a positive impact on the business is far from guaranteed.

This entire decision process precedes any IT investment decision or initiative which indicates that digital transformation cannot be an IT-driven journey. Notice that I said “driven” vs. “led” – I’ll come back to that.

Modernizing systems is an IT-driven initiative that often occurs because it must – either support is running out, becoming problematic to source, and/or becoming cost-prohibitive. Sometimes the modernization of the system will include additional capabilities or benefits that are presumed to add value to the business, potentially enabling their digital transformation. This might in fact be the case but occurs much less frequently that people would like to believe.

You don’t have to look too hard to find numerous examples of how this process can lead to issues down the road. One common scenario is the organization looking to upgrade or consolidate their web properties and choosing complex systems with e-commerce or personalization features that will likely never be used because of their current business model. Another scenario is the organization looking to reduce their costs by moving applications they have today as-is off legacy mainframe or data platforms to the cloud. They believe this will position them to innovate or “transform” but they are investing a lot of money to move capabilities that are inadequate, or even outdated, which will likely lock them into a status quo situation for many more years. These well-intentioned decisions are made based on an IT-centric perspective and those associated outcomes.

The key to aligning such investments to your digital transformation journey, and potentially securing the necessary budget to do it “right”, is establishing success criteria that fall outside of standard IT criteria such as cost, performance, feature sets, and scale. However, establishing the success criteria for your digital transformation becomes problematic because there is no meaningful way to measure its success. Yes, you can find numerous articles about evidence and indications of progress but I would challenge you to find someone who was willing or able to list “Digital Transformation” among their KPI’s or scorecard. This reinforces the importance of recognizing that digital transformation isn’t an objective.

This brings us back to the decisions needed around your business strategy and execution and why this cannot be an IT-driven initiative. IT can provide the necessary leadership to enable the digital transformation journey but it can’t be the owner because it isn’t their outcome to define. The definition of success for the business strategy and its execution must be established outside of IT and can be easily measured in multiple ways: revenue, profit, market share, customer retention, etc. The organization’s executives must identify which measures they want to focus on, what goals to set for each, and then identify how digital could or already does impact those results. At a minimum, IT leadership should play a role in the impact identification and could certainly lead the execution of the journey.

If your modernization initiatives can help enable that journey you have a great opportunity to align and drive demonstrable changes for the business. In some cases, this should cause you to rethink what might be a more tactical approach, reconsider the current modernization priorities, and reassess decisions around buy vs. build, sunset vs. modernize, or re-design vs. re-platform. This perspective makes these decisions more complex but it can prevent you from throwing good money after bad, handcuffing your organization down the road, or bypassing great opportunities to innovate.