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Get a Handle on Data Locked in Legacy Systems to Develop Faster

Everyone in the federal government is under pressure to modernize. Modernize processes. Modernize applications. Modernize infrastructure. Rising citizen expectations are driving the need to create consumer-like experiences — both on the front end and the back end. Taking advantage of best practices fine-tuned and honed by the private sector will help federal agencies empower public servants to work smarter, make government more efficient and improve citizen experiences.

But the main roadblocks for modernization are the archaic data environments that power our government systems. Terabytes of valuable information are locked away in legacy environments where it sits in silos, walled off from other systems. Getting these data sets to connect with each other to enable automation, self-service and other experience-related use cases is nearly impossible with existing tools. The ability to orchestrate process integration, robotic process automation and other enabling technologies that can gather and collect data for an application or workflow requires complex coding by expensive engineers and developers — resources that are just not available to federal agencies.

Low-Code Puts the Power of Integration in the Hands of Front-Line Workers

There is a way forward for resource-strapped agencies. Modern low-code development platforms give government workers with little or no coding experience a number of ways to easily and seamlessly build integrations between data silos. These include low-tech methods such as flat file exchanges as well as more modern integrations like application programming interfaces (APIs). Low-code even allows users to easily use advanced automation technology such as robotic process automation (RPA) to pull data from legacy green screen applications that do not have a modern interface.

And, again, no coding is required. These user-friendly tools allow front-line workers to work with data at the source without the need for more complex database or system administration tools and without requiring middleware layers. This includes system-to-system integrations, ETL (Extract, Transfer, Load) for data transfers and tools that enable temporary storage of data while in use. Low-code removes the complexity of accessing the critical information in these legacy systems which, in turn, enables modernization and digital transformation.

But Wait, There Is a Catch

Make sure you use a low-code development platform that doesn’t force you to restructure current data structures. Rather than replicate or migrate data from a source into the application, look for a platform that grants you full access to source data. You already have a defined data strategy, and there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Restructuring data just creates another silo and another place where information has to be translated. This creates resiliency issues and slows development. Having the ability to pull data from the source in real time eliminates the need to build migration, refactoring or normalization of data processes—ultimately shortening the lifecycle of your development project.

And, that’s the point, isn’t it? Federal agencies need to develop quickly to keep up with changing workflows, dynamic citizen needs and new innovative technologies. Low-code helps federal agencies get a handle on their data that is locked away in legacy systems faster, so they can put it to good use and accelerate digital transformation and modernization projects.


Interested in becoming a Featured Contributor? Email topics you’re interested in covering for GovLoop to [email protected]. And to read more from our Winter 2021 Cohort, here is a full list of every Featured Contributor during this cohort.

Jason Adolf is a federal sector expert for Appian, an enterprise low-code development platform.

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