COBOL Modernisation Is Becoming Important For Business Strategy


Micro Focus has announced the findings of its COBOL Survey , which reveals the latest global trends and 2020 plans for enterprises utilising COBOL and mainframe technology. The survey indicates that 70% of enterprises favour modernisation as an approach for implementing strategic change as compared to the replacing/retiring of key COBOL applications as it continues to offer a low-risk, and effective means of transforming IT to support digital business initiatives.

The global survey asked COBOL-connected architects, software engineers, developers, development managers and IT executives from 40 different countries about the strategic importance of COBOL applications to their business, future application roadmaps and planning, as well as their development toolchains and resources.

Key findings of the Micro Focus COBOL Survey include:

  • Modernization Continues to Drive Strategic Business Change: Modernization as a vehicle for IT transformation and critical business change can take many forms with 53 percent of respondents planning to pursue initiatives aligned to application modernization and integration of COBOL systems. This was followed by 37 percent pursuing process modernization efforts and another 38 percent investing in infrastructure modernization activities.
  • COBOL is at the Heart of a Modernization Strategy: Modernization was favored over the replacing and retiring of older systems with 63 percent of respondents choosing to improve upon their existing COBOL systems in 2020. Additionally, 92 percent of respondents felt as though their organization’s COBOL applications are strategic in comparison to 84 percent of respondents in 2017.
  • IT and Business Synergy Remains Strong for COBOL:* Senior tech-focused roles are most likely to be seen as leading or influencing application modernization initiatives with 36 percent for CTOs and 33 percent for CIOs. Senior non-tech roles also play a role in a significant number of organizations with 27 percent for CEOs and 9 percent for CFOs. Paired with IT’s focus on supporting the business and driving competitive advantage (46 percent of responses), the relationship between COBOL development teams and the business has evolved and strengthened.
  • The IT Ecosystem Continues to Evolve: Continued change is shown by the strategic alignment of COBOL systems through modern-day technology with 42 percent seeing Cloud as a core and viable platform to support the business agenda as compared to 30 percent in 2017. As the IT landscape evolves, COBOL remains vital in new ecosystems and its continued evolution is a foundational element of IT and business change.
  • COBOL-based Systems are Strategic and Growing: When asked about their company’s plans for COBOL in 2020, 63 percent of the survey’s respondents stated that they are planning to modernize their system/applications with a focus on functionality and process. This is further supported by the results with an increase in the size of the average application code base from 8.4 million in 2017 to 9.9 million this year, showing continued investment, re-use and expansion in core business systems.

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Vishal Chawla
Vishal Chawla is a senior tech journalist at Analytics India Magazine and writes about AI, data analytics, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and blockchain. Vishal also hosts AIM's video podcast called Simulated Reality- featuring tech leaders, AI experts, and innovative startups of India.

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