To the CIOs afraid of DevOps: You’re missing out

To the CIOs afraid of DevOps: You’re missing out

No comments

IT is all about innovation. 

Just five years ago, DevOps was virtually unknown. Yet, in the last two years, it has become possibly the hottest area in enterprise technology. You only have to look at the number of DevOps tools and conferences that have emerged to see just how big the interest around it is.

But DevOps is not just a buzzword. Today, a growing number ofmajor enterprises use DevOps, and some of the biggest International conferences (take DockerCon – now in its 3rd year and due to attract 4000+ delegates) are centred around DevOps.

The only reason it’s been able to grow to such scale, is because there really are tangible business benefits.

So why then, are there so many CIOs afraid of implementing DevOps?

DevOps is moving up in the food chain. A decision to invest in DevOps is likely to be made as far up as the CIO’s office: even when implementing DevOps from the bottom up, the C-level need to be on board to ensure it fits with the direction of the organisation.

The CIO role is perhaps the most rapidly evolving of all C-level positions. A glance at this year’s CIO 100 will tell you that for many, agile and digital are now the foundations upon which the role is built.

But there are still many who have a more traditional view. For these CIOs, a view based on a lifetime of carefulrisk-averse decision-making and maintaining the status quo is hard to shift. Such a distinct change in approach towards a focus on speed and agility is a big leap to make.

For others, DevOps is less accessible because it lacks hard value of return. Unlike the tangible agile manifesto, DevOps is simply a word with provisional principles. There is no definitive way of doing DevOps, and this can be hard to relate to.

Why should a CIO implement DevOps?

I could wax lyrical about the numerous business benefits of DevOps (and a good place to start if you want to learn more is the Puppet State of DevOps report). Key business values are continuouslybroken down into the following three categories:

At ECS Digital, we like to build upon this.  Our methodology for extracting business benefit from DevOps is:

  • People

Collaboration. Breaking down of silos. Cross-functional teams. DevOps aims to get everyone in the organisation rowing in the same direction. Once achieved, this brings with it, the business benefit of speed (imagine the time that could be saved if Ops knew what was about to be thrown their way and could prepare by pre-writing test cases).

  • Processes

DevOps helps to streamline processes from beginning to end: to find and remove bottlenecks and quality gates in the name of improving time to market.

  • Tools

The use of tools to automate processes increases both consistency and quality, since the loss of manual tasks removes room for error.

How are the CIOs missing out?

If the business benefits of dramatically increased speedquality and consistency weren’t enough, CIOs that haven’t yet implemented DevOps are missing out in a big way when it comes to business innovation.

The ability to innovate and disrupt your industry is one of the main priorities for CIOs in 2016. Big, complicated companies that are slow to market are beginning to be disrupted by newer and more collaborative competitors who can react quicker to change.

The saying “If you’re not innovating, you’re falling behind” has never been more true.

Take Mondo: an aspiring “app-only bank”, founded in 2015, now valued at £30 million. Growth of this speed and scale has been made possible only through effective DevOps. And Mondo is just one fintech company that has given the Finance industry a well-needed kick-up-the-butt. Major banks such as Lloyds are suddenly beginning major DevOps initiatives in response to the threat of disruption.

Is DevOps for everyone?

Naturally, DevOps is easier for companies that are able build their culture from scratch.

Implementing DevOps in large, legacy organisations can be harder, but by no means impossible.  You may be surprised to know that some companies now truly succeeding at DevOps are large, pre-established companies.

Remember the business values that we covered earlier?

  • Speed: Amazon now deploys code every 11.7 seconds (on average)
  • Quality: Etsy deploys with far fewer disruptions than when the company used a waterfall approach
  • Consistency: Netflix engineers deploy code thousands of times per day

Whatever company size or structure, DevOps can be made to work: and it helps to have an experienced team to support the transition. Whilst a DevOps agency cannot remove the chance of failure (for failure in DevOps is guaranteed), a skilled agency will act as a parachute to minimise the damage. It is, after all, that successful DevOps culture that allows speedy detection of and recovery from failure.  Blameless post mortems ensure that fear of failure is no longer a barrier to innovation.

What does the future hold?

Organisations will forever look for ways to improve the speed, quality, consistency [and cost] of IT. DevOps is the latest trend, following on from agile, and five years from now there will be new methodologies that we haven’t yet thought of.

My guess is that, by then, most companies will have already adopted DevOps in one way or another: It will be part of the everyday life of running an organisation.

Companies that fail to implement DevOps, seriously risk missing out and being overtaken by those that are consistently quick at successfully responding to change.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how DevOps could help your organisation, our Maturity Assessment provides recommendations specific to your business on how to adopt and realise the benefits of DevOps and Continuous Delivery.

Andy CuretonTo the CIOs afraid of DevOps: You’re missing out
read more
How fostering collaboration in IT builds more innovative teams

How fostering collaboration in IT builds more innovative teams

No comments

There’s no better way to sum up the importance of innovation in the business landscape of the 21st century than to quote the late Steve Jobs: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Innovation isn’t exclusively a modern fixation, though – in fact, it has been the driving force behind every significant leap forward in technology, from the wheel to the printing press. In the modern business landscape, though, innovation has taken on new importance as a central goal of many forward-thinking companies, and the means for achieving it have practically come down to a scientific pursuit.

In this blog, we’ll look at cultivating a culture of collaboration in IT, and how this helps you build more innovative teams.

Treat your staff like they matter to you, and they’ll do the same in return.

Something that many businesses seem to forget is that you can’t have any hope of building a collaborative and innovative team without a foundation of mutual respect and trust. There are a number of ways to achieve this: being transparent with your staff about your business objectives and challenges, encouraging their input from an early stage, taking an interest in each individual’s performance, and understanding how the different members of your team learn and work best are all ways of showing your staff that they matter to your business. It isn’t just about making your staff feel appreciated, though. Involving team members in decision-making from the beginning of a project gives them a sense of ownership, and encourages your entire team to stay committed until the very last step, resulting in higher overall quality of the finished product.

Innovation should be intimately tied to your organisational culture.

For the most innovative organisations in the world, the ability to innovate isn’t an external feature only possessed by a select few of the top performers in the company: it’s an intrinsic feature of their company culture. To ensure that a culture of innovation permeates every facet of your organisation, you need to lead by example at the highest levels of management. A leader who is constantly seeking new and innovative ways of doing things inspires the rest of your workforce to follow suit, and rewarding staff for innovative ideas and encouraging out-of-the-box thinking wherever possible will go a long way. This doesn’t mean that the upper levels of your organisation need to be creative visionaries – by simply cultivating a culture that is open to innovation from the top down, you’re creating the foundation from which great new ideas can spring forth.

What should you look for when building your dream team?

Collaboration in IT depends not only on a variety of skills, but also a variety of personality types that work well together. For a team to collaborate and come up with innovative ideas and solutions, you’ll need to have an ideal mix of ‘thinkers’ and ‘doers’. In a blog on innovationmanagement.se, the authors discuss “building a bigger box rather than trying to fit inside it.” For projects in which innovation is a key objective, it’s necessary to have a strong creative team in the initial brainstorming stages. However, creative thinkers are notorious for being less adept at project management – which is why it’s important to balance out the creative thinkers on your team with practical ‘doers’ who make sure that the creative work is met with the right amount of structure to ensure the work gets done. That’s what the authors mean by ‘building a bigger box’ – rather than encouraging your team to ‘think outside the box’ and then rein their ideas in to fit the criteria, try to build your teams in such a way that the sum total of their personalities, skills and working styles is greater than its constituent parts.

A closer look at the anatomy of highly innovative teams.

So, what are some character traits that you should look for when putting together your dream team? We’ve already discussed thinkers and doers as broad categories of the types of people you’re likely to have in your organisation, but let’s take a closer look at some common personality traits that facilitate collaboration in IT:

The self-starters

It is critical to put together a team that is self-motivated. This doesn’t necessarily mean every member of your team has to be a self-starter – it’s often enough to have a team leader who can inspire the rest of his or her team to take ownership for their work and become more diligent and pragmatic in their approach to tasks.

The out-the-box thinkers

This is something we’re used to hearing about innovators – Apple called them ‘the crazy ones’: the ones that draw outside the lines; the ones that ‘think different’. Creative thinkers are invaluable for any innovation project, but as we mentioned earlier, they aren’t capable of doing everything themselves.

The team players

Collaboration in IT is obviously dependent on members of your team working together. Conflict is inevitable – and, to a certain extent, it’s a natural and healthy part of a team dynamic – but innovative teams need to include members who can find common ground rather than reasons for confrontation. This is the one trait you’d ideally like every member of your team to exhibit.

The overachievers

To a certain extent, competition is a healthy and necessary trait of teams. The right amount of competitive tension in a team can push individuals beyond their perceived limitations and result in a much higher quality of the finished product. However, too much competition within a team can quickly become a disabling factor for less competitive individuals, so managing this is a constant balancing act.

Having a powerful business proposition means little without being equipped with the perfect team to conceptualise, develop and execute properly. ECS Digital is a DevOps consultancy with over 12 years’ experience in bringing teams closer together to create more innovative solutions for organisations all around the world. To find out more about the solutions we offer, visit our websiteor contact us directly.

Image Credit:David Didau

Andy CuretonHow fostering collaboration in IT builds more innovative teams
read more