The industrial sector has shown incredible resiliency and has been building back fast despite significant headwinds. The COVID-19 global pandemic exposed the fragility of manufacturing supply chains, causing substantial shortages of essential products such as medical supplies, critical minerals, and semiconductors.\n\nDynamics of current geopolitical forces are keeping supply chain risks in focus, resulting in increased public awareness, government interventions, and actions by individual companies. Industry and market trends will likely further accelerate organizational changes in 2023, particularly in this uncertain economic scenario with war and persistent inflation.\n\nMaking products closer to customers removes some uncertainty and risks in the supply chain and relocating production of high-value products back to the U.S. market is a challenging task and will only work with agility and innovation across the value chain. According to the 2022 State of Manufacturing Report, 93% of industrial companies are looking to technology solutions to increase operational efficiency for new product development.\n\nThese winds of change present an opportunity to create financial, strategic, and social value by moving from an economy where competitiveness is based solely on cost minimization to an economy based on value and innovation.\n\nA balancing act\n\nDigital transformations are notoriously difficult to scale up across networks of factories. The historical divide between siloed IT (information technology) and OT (operations technology) has aggravated two significant barriers to change: technology debt and vendor lock-in.\n\nA significant portion of the industrial sector currently works with an aging legacy infrastructure and applications running on a complex mix of on\/off-premises technologies. Most of these legacy technologies expose businesses to security and vendor lock-in risks since they are based on proprietary standards and demand substantial switching costs.\n\nThat\u2019s the unseen technology debt, a complexity tax that every new project pays, inhibiting companies\u2019 long-term velocity and productivity and harming budgets and returns on investment.\n\nIn this situation, business decision-makers face a balancing act: how to innovate and deliver critical business outcomes with such a significant tech debt and many proprietary legacy systems? In other words, how to lead the winds of change of current geopolitical dynamics and investment waves, become future-ready, and stay ahead of competitors?\n\nLeading the winds of change\n\nFuture-ready companies have already embraced agile practices and distributed computing technologies like edge computing, containers, and microservices to optimize existing systems and drive innovation.\n\nIT modernization is the practice of updating older software and infrastructure to newer computing approaches, including languages, frameworks, architectures, and infrastructure platforms. It does not require wholesale replacement> if done well, modernization can extend the lifespan of an organization\u2019s software and infrastructure while taking advantage of recent innovation. While the term legacy may have a negative connotation in technology, these systems are often the bedrock of a company\u2019s business operations.\n\nModern, cloud-native computing paradigms are distributed by nature. Modernization shifts the technology stack from a tightly coupled, hierarchical, siloed, and point-to-point structure to one that is application-driven, loosely coupled, software-defined, and integrated across all layers of the architecture.\n\nSuccessful modernization programs have prioritized low-risk and high-yield initiatives in productivity and efficiency gains to realize benefits and quickly reallocate funding to deploy innovative edge native applications like:\n\nIt\u2019s not a surprise that research shows that 59% of organizations with application modernization plans in progress report that the activity has intensified over the past 12 months, with almost 20% saying it has "significantly accelerated.\u201d\n\nForging ahead\n\nIn this age of disruption, industrial enterprises are forged ahead by powerful \u201cwinds of change.\u201d Companies that are agile and innovative across the industrial value chain are well-positioned to be future-ready and ahead of competitors.\n\nA modernization approach based on agile practices and distributed computing technologies extends the lifespan of an organization\u2019s software and infrastructure while also taking advantage of technological innovations. It\u2019s the balancing act that reaps benefits from prioritizing low-risk and high-yield initiatives that provide the funding for innovative use cases.\n\nThose who lack the urgency to adapt and think differently, believing their margins are too thin to innovate or that the short run is always trumping the long, will be left behind.