IT leaders are upbeat for the most as they continue to move ahead with digital transformation efforts. It\u2019s not that the budget spigots are opening wide \u2013 for most, spending and hiring rates are flat.\n\u201cOne of the biggest reasons for the hopeful outlook is the fact that business and IT are finally on the same page, with planned technology projects and overall strategic business goals closely aligned for the upcoming year,\u201d according to Julia King's analysis of Computerworld\u2019s Tech Forecast, which surveyed 196 IT leaders. The survey offers an opportunity to assess how you stand compared to your peers.\nAssess your transformation effort\nThe survey illuminates progress on digital transformation, with 78% of respondents giving themselves passing grades of B or C, 6% an A, 11% a D, and 5% an F. There\u2019s a virtual tie in the top two business priorities for IT: 47% say it\u2019s improving employee productivity\/efficiency, and 46% cite improving customer satisfaction\/experience.\nKing cites IDC analyst Robert Parker\u2019s assertion that meeting customer demands requires a new operating model based on new technologies and that \u201chaving people work across functions is a key ingredient of a successful digital transformation strategy.\u201d \u00a0\nMigrate at a smart pace\nWhile digital transformation is top-of-mind across business and IT management these days, it doesn\u2019t necessarily translate into full-blown migration of IT applications to the cloud. The Computerworld survey indicates widely varied migration patterns, with only 11% indicating they are moving mission-critical enterprise applications to the cloud.\nThat, no doubt, reflects the bottom-line reality that stable, \u201csystem of record\u201d applications can continue to deliver a return on investment for several (perhaps many) years to come, so why fix something that isn\u2019t broken?\nPay for what you use; use what you pay for\nBut there is a continuing need to cost-optimize those core applications to free up resources for driving innovation. That requires a continuing focus on capturing efficiencies, which begins by evaluating how companies are actually using their mission-critical applications and whether to migrate to a private cloud or public cloud environment.\nMany, for example, are paying license fees for unused ERP \u201cshelfware\u201d or are not fully utilizing available features and functionality that can deliver additional value to the organization \u2013 it wouldn\u2019t make sense to pay upgrade fees or move to the cloud simply to turn on features you already have a right to use. You might also be using more databases or versions of databases than you realize.\nDetermine what works best in the cloud\nJust because those legacy applications are working well, doesn\u2019t necessarily mean you should rely on them for everything. Increasingly, companies are pursuing hybrid strategies such as pairing a core ERP that is either on-site or in a private cloud with the best of public cloud so they can take advantage of new SaaS application capabilities. But that too brings challenges.\nEnsuring that cloud and internally deployed systems play nice together \u201cis just one part of the hybrid challenge,\u201d writes CIO\u2019sMichael Nadeau. \u201cMaking the right decisions about what will be in the cloud and what stays in-house is the other.\u201d\nSupport in a hybrid model\nAs the hybrid model evolves, there is the potential for support to become more complicated and thus costlier. So it\u2019s important to also evolve the support model to ensure rapid and cost-effective integration of cloud solutions while maintaining comprehensive support for mission-critical systems of record.\nDetermining how and when to adopt cloud solutions, without the limitations and high costs associated with software vendor support policies and vendor lock-in, is a critical factor in determining the right mix of cloud and internally deployed software. The key issues are how to enable innovation and new initiatives aligned with the business, not necessarily where to locate the underlying technology assets.\nBottom line\nBudget and staffing constraints are nothing new for IT. Increasingly, it is adapting to cost-optimization requirements while continuing to meet the changing needs of the business. Developing more cost-effective support models for legacy applications can help free up necessary resources.\nUse this Rimini Street\u00a0savings calculator to see how much you could be saving your company.