Of the many CIOs that I have met, few if any lack ideas that would deliver real benefits to their organisation.\nOften, the problem lack of budget and it is a problem that has become more acute in a challenging economy.\nYou will find \u2013 without exception \u2013 that in every big organisation, a huge proportion of CIOs' spend is going on managing the complexity of their applications landscape.\nModern businesses run on application portfolios consisting of thousands of applications, piled together after decades of unbridled building, not to mention the aftermath of merger and acquisition activity.\nTogether, these applications constitute an urban landscape \u2013 an old city with narrow congested streets and traffic jams. And it takes the larger share of the budget to just keep the lights on in this old city, stifling funds for modern facilities.\nTo compete in a globalised economy, business leaders need supply and demand chains of continually increasing sophistication, but IT has difficulty keeping pace.\nLast year our own Global CIO Report \u2013 based on interviews with 500 CIOs around the world \u2013 showed the baleful effects of the problem: low productivity, high total cost of ownership, slow time-to-market, failing point-to-point integration, scattered data and excessive customisation. The following quote from one interviewee is typical:\n"We face a highly customised IT landscape, which is inflexible and expensive to manage. Offering new products and services to our customers costs us a fortune \u2013 and it takes a long time for us to make changes to those systems. As a business we are undergoing a period of transformation, but IT is potentially becoming a serious barrier to that business transformation. For example, we've got a lot of SAP in our landscape \u2013 far too many instances of SAP, and they are massively customised."\nHowever identifying the problems \u2013 and griping about them \u2013 is as always a whole lot easier than addressing them and producing an effective solution.\nSome CIOs have been taking a fresh look at conventional outsourcing options. Others have been busily clueing-up on cloud computing, software-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service. But, their real problem is where to start.\nCIOs need a continuous rationalisation programme, requiring a broad array of rationalisation strategies to handle different points of departure and varying business ambitions. The challenge is to build a new city within the old and it must encompass the entire life cycle of the applications landscape, from application conception through design, deployment, service and renewal \u2013 to phase-out and disposal.\nIt's important to retain the agility and creativity of pure application development while moving away from the escalating costs of hand-crafted IT. It is equally important to realise that the managed decommissioning of old systems is as important as the activation of new functionality.\nThe good news for many CIOs is that effective solutions to the applications legacy burden are available. A number of global IT partnering organisations have put much effort over the last two years into addressing the issues involved; creating solutions that realistically address the issues, with a focus on cost-containment and rationalisation to deliver short-term and long-term benefits with an absolute minimisation of risk.\nThese organisations include the known major players in outsourcing, my own included, but the applications-life cycle services now being offered are a far cry from conventional outsourcing.\nThey don't put the focus on running existing IT as cheaply and efficiently as possible, they look at what the ideal start-from-scratch solution would be for their client and work out which of the new techniques would work best.\nSometimes the core of the solution will be relatively conventional, such as moving the client from multiple to single-version SAP. But, sometimes more radical approaches will be called for, to the extent of moving an entire business operation (asset management, or procurement say) to a fully-outsourced, as-a-service activity.\nTo succeed, nothing can be ruled out from the transformation exercise.\nAnd, start small. Focus on a part of the estate, demonstrating quick-wins and then moving on.\nThere are now enough real-life case studies to show that even major multinationals, however big and complex their business, can solve the applications burden problem.\nThere really are effective new solutions to this old problem, and they really do work. CIOs do not have to put up with applications anarchy. They need to have the courage to start building a new city within the old.