CIOs Not Feeling the Green (Screen), Survey Says
February 18, 2014 Alex Woodie
While CIOs around the world are enthusiastically embracing green computing when it reduces energy footprints and hazardous waste in landfills, they are not so thrilled with the other variety of green computing–the one that’s associated with old mainframe and AS/400 programs. In fact, CIOs are more likely than not to report that their 5250 or 3270 applications are doing a poor job, according to a recent Micro Focus-sponsored survey.
The study of 590 CIOs and IT directors from around the world paints a dim view of text-based user interfaces, which are used by 93 percent of the organizations surveyed.
According to the study, which was conducted by Vanson Bourne, nearly nine out of 10 CIOs and IT directors have received complaints from end users about their green-screen applications. Nearly two-thirds report their users feeling bored, frustrated, ambivalent, or restricted with the green-screen applications. (The survey did not ask security directors how they feel about their green-screen users feeling “bored” or “restricted” with the applications, but you can probably guess their responses if they had.)
The good news is that 45 percent of CIOs and IT directors indicated that their green-screen applications are doing such a good job that “there’s insufficient reason to modernize, rewrite, or replace them with off-the-shelf commercial applications,” the survey says. On the flip side, 55 percent of organizations say that the applications are doing a poor job, the survey found.
There are several factors contributing to the continued momentum of green-screen applications, according to the survey. For starters, 34 percent of CIOs and IT directors say it’s too risky to modernize, rewrite, or replace the applications, while 43 percent say it’s too expensive to do the same. The lack of green-screen application-related skills is a factor in 31 percent of those IT leaders surveyed, the study found.
Micro Focus–which sells the 3270/5250 RUMBA emulation and OnWeb modernization products–also looked into the favored modernization approaches. The company found there is no majority opinion on the best way to modernize the applications.
However, when asked which approach they would take if they had to modernize their applications, 44 percent of CIOs and IT directors said they favored a non-invasive, middleware-based approach that hooked the business logic of host applications with GUIs on distributed platforms. Nearly one out of four IT leaders said they would rewrite the entire green-screen application, followed by 17 percent who said they would “directly modernize the green-screen application on the client without impacting the mainframe application,” and 14 percent said they would replace it.
When it comes to functionality, IT leaders were nearly unanimous that the green-screen applications need to do more. Only 2 percent said their green-screen applications had all the features they needed. “There is a commonly expressed desire for the applications to work with other data sources,” the study says, including access to internal/external websites (55 percent), CRM programs (47 percent), common software packages (35 percent), and other in-house applications (46 percent). Forty-one percent said they want mobile access to their green-screen applications.
A lack of functionality available to users was cited by 57 percent of IT leaders, followed by the need to make multiple unnecessary key presses and the overall usability of the applications (both 46 percent). Only 35 percent of organizations say their users are happy using the applications.
Derek Britton, director of product marketing at Micro Focus, says there’s a widespread belief that green-screen applications can’t deliver on the expectations of users today that applications must deliver the same experience on any device at any place and time.
“But that isn’t true,” he says. “It is possible to both quickly and cheaply modernize green-screen systems, delivering new features that take advantage of Windows, the internet and mobile devices, without any application code change or disruption to the end user community.”