“Continuous Innovation” WTF is that about?

“Continuous Innovation” WTF is that about?

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For those that haven’t noticed, we recently re-branded. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Following our acquisition by ECS Group, Forest Technologies has become ECS Digital. And with that re-brand, comes a new tagline. You’ve probably seen it: it’s splashed across our homepage, our business cards and our conference swag: Continuous Innovation.

We think it sums up everything we do here at ECS Digital – and why – but what exactly does it mean?

Put simply, continuous innovation is what it says on the tin: It’s a methodology that allows companies to continuously improve in line with customer demand and market expectations, as well as new and existing competitors.

But, why is Continuous Innovation so important?

Nearly 100 years ago, Albert Einstein, himself, said:

“we cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”.

This has never been as true as it is today.  Customer expectations have dramatically increased in recent years with the consumerisation of IT. Since the emergence of disruptive industry challengers, web 2.0 companies have begun to establish not only new markets, but new ways of consuming existing or traditional services.

As we head deeper into the digital age, new products, services and features are surfacing all the time, and customers have come to expect these to be delivered to them quickly.  This speed at which the consumer market is moving is forcing companies to innovate at an ever increasing rate.  With the breadth of choice and ease of switching providers eroding customer loyalty, this innovation has to be delivered to the highest standards.

Increasingly, companies are finding that in order to survive – let alone grow – they need to change the way they work.  At the same time, they’re being pushed to do more with less (or at least the same) making it imperative that organisations work smarter, not harder. It is no longer an option to do what’s always been done.

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Industry disruption is so real nowadays that all businesses face the threat of disruptor companies.

In fact, compared to 1995, only 12% of Fortune 500 firms remain, thanks to the creative destruction that fuels economic prosperity, and the average time companies now spend on the Fortune 500 will shrink to 12 years by 2020 from 60 years back in 1960.

The more agile and able to innovate you are, the easier it is to keep up with changes in consumer trends, and avoid going out of business.

Let’s rewind a few years…

…and remember Blockbuster:  In 2004, the leader in home movies and video game rentals was valued at over $6 billion.   By 2010, Netflix had become a household name for online video streaming services, rendering Blockbuster stores bankrupt.

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Despite Blockbuster’s efforts to send rentals-by-mail and offer streaming services, they were unable to do so soon enough. Blockbuster were beaten to the post by a company that could innovate both continuously and rapidly, and left by fickle consumers demanding convenience at speed and value. Those of us that remember can only reminisce on the Friday nights going to Blockbusters, grabbing some popcorn and renting the latest releases.

If Blockbuster had been capable of innovating and delivering new services to customers faster, could they have competed against Netflix? 

It’s possible: more than simply allowing companies to stay ahead of trends, innovation has become one of the keys to dominating a market. Evolution is no longer enough to win, let alone retain customers:“The light bulb wasn’t invented by continuously improving the candle…it was about understanding what the job to be done was and then stepping back to look for solutions to solve this.”

Picture1-4.pngWho would have thought the adoption of agile principles would allow the world’s biggest online book seller, Amazon, to not only kill the traditional bookstore, the traditional bookstore, but become the world’s biggest cloud provider?

What if Amazon launched a bank…?

How does ECS Digital help companies achieve Continuous Innovation?

Here at ECS Digital, we believe that everything is done with the aim of helping our customer achieve continuous innovation.  As a DevOps and Continuous Delivery consultancy, we help companies of all sizes to adopt the working practices, processes and tools that enable them to deliver the continuous innovation that customers and users demand.

DevOps itself is an enabler of innovation.  As well as improving the speed, failure rates and efficiency of organisations, it encourages businesses to:

  • Collaborate more effectively, making for not only more satisfied and productive employees, but a more rounded view and wider pool of internal ideas. As Adam Jacob, CTO of Chef once said, Happy people make happy products.”

Achieving the above allows companies to continually innovate. At ECS Digital, we transform enterprises through the adoption of DevOps and Continuous Delivery, allowing them to stay ahead of competition and giving them the opportunity to disrupt their markets.

 

To learn more about how DevOps helps organisations to innovate, why not read my article, placed in Horizon Business Innovation: DevOps enables CIOs to create Innovation.”

Andy Cureton“Continuous Innovation” WTF is that about?
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DevOps enables CIOs to create Innovation

DevOps enables CIOs to create Innovation

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Why has Innovation become such a high priority to the CIO? And how can DevOps help?

In the spirit of the Innovation Leadership Summit, our founder Andy Cureton, takes a look how DevOps can help CIOs achieve the most prominent 2016 objective: Innovation (up 19% since last year alone).

 

You can view the full article as published in Horizon Business Innovation, here.

Andy CuretonDevOps enables CIOs to create Innovation
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To the CIOs afraid of DevOps: You’re missing out

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

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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
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ECS Digital achieves Puppet Labs Service Delivery Partner status

ECS Digital achieves Puppet Labs Service Delivery Partner status

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London – 4th March, 2016 – ECS Digital (previously Forest Technologies), one of the leading DevOps and Digital Transformation Consultancies headquartered in London, announced today that it has achieved Service Delivery Partner Status with Puppet Labs. Through this partnership, ECS Digital will deliver digital transformation solutions for IT driven businesses using Puppet Labs’ market leading infrastructure automation and continuous delivery technologyPuppet Enterprise.

Under this partnership, ECS Digital will include Puppet Enterprise in its reference continuous delivery tool chain for their customers’ DevOps and digital transformation engagements. Every business today relies on software to deliver value to its customers. DevOps is the perfect catalyst for innovation in software development, and a powerful tool for organisations looking to stay relevant in an ever-changing market where software is more critical than ever.

“Puppet Enterprise is one of the leading continuous delivery technologies, building on its heritage in infrastructure automation with the addition of Puppet Application Orchestration,” said Andy Cureton, Founder and CEO of ECS Digital. “We are excited to formalise our relationship with Puppet Labs so we can deepen our knowledge of their technology with the addition of a Puppet practice in ECS Digital.  We are confident that our expertise combined with Puppet Enterprise will deliver rapid value to our customers’ digital transformation initiatives.”

“We are excited to announce this relationship withECS Digital,” said Mukesh Sharma, EMEA VP of Sales at Puppet Labs. “In ECS Digital we have a partner with over 12 years experience of consulting and training, delivering automation solutions that complement Puppet. We talk to an increasing number of customers who want to use Puppet Enterprise as part of a full CD tool chain and ECS Digital fits the perfect partner profile to extend the value of Puppet Enterprise to more organizations globally.”

About ECS Digital

ECS Digital was founded to deliver the consulting experience all customers wish for.  We respectively challenge the status quo and constantly review the latest technology and methodology advances, to ensure we deliver the optimal solution.  Our team are recruited for their DNA as much as their technical ability because honesty and the desire to go the extra mile are key to delivering what we promised, when we promised it, and within the budget we agreed. Consulting the ECS Digital way.

About Puppet Labs

Puppet Labs, Inc. is the leader in IT automation. Puppet Labs Puppet-logo.jpgsoftware provides system administrators the operational agility, efficiency and insight they need to proactively manage dynamic infrastructure, scaling from tens of servers to thousands, both on premise and in the cloud. Thousands of the world’s leading organizations use Puppet Labs software to configure and manage their IT infrastructure, including Bank of America, Cisco, NYSE, Salesforce.com and WebEx. Based in Portland, Oregon, Puppet Labs employs 400 people. The company is backed by investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Google Ventures, VMware, Cisco, True Ventures and Radar Partners. To learn more, please visit PuppetLabs.com.

Media Contact

Andy Cureton: andy@ecs-digital.co.uk

Image credit: http://blog.crazyegg.com/

Andy CuretonECS Digital achieves Puppet Labs Service Delivery Partner status
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DevOps: What it isn’t is just as important as what it is

DevOps: What it isn’t is just as important as what it is

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Over the past few years, DevOps has been steadily gaining traction in enterprise IT for the benefit it provides in driving business forward at a faster pace. The results speak for themselves – from ‘unicorn’ companies like Etsy and Netflix, who seem to be able to achieve the impossible through DevOps, down to start-ups and Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who are realising its potential as a way to eclipse their competition.

But as the hype around DevOps continues to grow unabated, many companies fall into the trap of ‘doing DevOps’ at the expense of actually implementing value-adding DevOps practices. In this blog, we’ll look at why effective DevOps adoption depends on understanding what DevOps isn’t,as well as what it is.

“Doing DevOps” isn’t the same thing as adopting DevOps practices.

In an article on DevOps.com, David Geer sums the ‘doing DevOps’ paradox as follows: “No one should be doing DevOps. It’s not an action, it’s not a title, it’s a blanket term for approaches that bridge the gap between traditional operations and development groups.” The first, and most important thing to understand about DevOps is that it isn’t, as Geer says, a title or an action. It is the combination of people, processes and tools, assembled in accordance to guiding principles and best practices that results in a more efficient delivery of better quality software. Many organisations make the principal mistake of creating a ‘DevOps team’ without considering what this truly entails. Creating a specialised DevOps team is counter-intuitive – DevOps makes organisations more efficient by breaking down the barriers that traditionally exist between dev and ops teams, and creating another silo within your organisation will only work against what you’re trying to achieve.

Automation isn’t all there is to DevOps, but it’s an important aspect.

One of the most common misconceptions about DevOps is that it’s just another word for automation. I’ve already discussed why DevOps is more than just automation in some detail in an earlier blog post, but the point is worth reiterating here. Automation constitutes a vital component of DevOps, but automating a few processes doesn’t mean you’ve achieved anything. What you have created are islands of automation where systems are loosely connected often causing further silos of expertise within the ecosystem. Automating the right processes is key to creating value for your business, and this depends on having the necessary insight into the way your business works. As Alan Sharp-Paul says in his blog on UpGuard, “A common misconception for Enterprises commencing their automation journey is that the key preparation work is choosing a tool and training their staff up. These are necessary evils, sure, but the real work is actually gathering requirements. With legacy infrastructure in play, what matters most is getting visibility of current state.

Without visibility into the current state of your business and target objectives, automating processes is akin to drawing names from a hat, at best. In other words, don’t automate what you don’t understand.

Adopting DevOps doesn’t mean downsizing or shedding staff.

DevOps doesn’t mean throwing out all your developers and operations staff and replacing them with an all-star ‘DevOps team’ that can accomplish anything in no time at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – DevOps is about empowering your existing staff to achieve more by working more closely together and automating the vital links between traditionally disparate departments. Creating a specialised DevOps team might seem like a great way to fast-track your organisation, but this is counter-intuitive to the benefits that DevOps provides. Ultimately, adoption of DevOps allows you to get more value from your existing workforce, not replace it with another, smaller unit.

DevOps is notoriously hard to define, and it can be even more difficult to adopt without a clear understanding of where you should be heading. ECS Digital has over 12 years’ experience helping organisations in many industries around the world realise the value of DevOps done right providing a independent and agnostic approach to what works best for your organisation. If you’d like to know more about how we could help this become a reality for your organisation, please contact us for a DevOps maturity assessment.

Image Credit: www.linkedin.com

Andy CuretonDevOps: What it isn’t is just as important as what it is
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Learning DevOps: Theory versus Practice

Learning DevOps: Theory versus Practice

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DevOps is notoriously difficult to define. There are many reasons for this, not least of which is that it’s not simply a skill, a tool or a process – it’s a combination of all three, and specifically how these three factors interact to bring about a change in the way software is delivered. For this  reason, learning for DevOps is a tricky thing to talk about. Knowing the theory behind good DevOpspractices is essential, but without any practical knowledge, you’ll quickly find yourself out of your depth in your organisations DevOps journey. As Alfred Korzybski put it, the map is not the territory. But that doesn’t mean you should jump head-first into DevOps without any kind of roadmap. In short, mastering DevOps requires both a solid understanding of the theory that underpins it, as well as the ability to handle the reality of DevOps in practice. In this blog, we’ll look at what this means for learning DevOps.

Theory provides the foundation, practice allows for innovation.

In a strange way, learning DevOps is similar to learning how to play an instrument: you could spend years studying the theory and learning how to read music, but if you never sit down to practice, you won’t have any idea how to actually play a piece of music. In the same way, learning the fundamentals of DevOps lays the groundwork, but without practical experience, you’ll very quickly find yourself out of your depth. A significant part of success with DevOps relies on innovation – the theory might show you how to accomplish something, but there is no ‘one size fits all’ DevOps solution. With practice, you’ll be able to refine and adapt the theory to create a variation that suits your organisation perfectly. By no means is this a recipe for success, you may get some broken chords along the way but the key is to learn from your mistakes and improve. As Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX says “If you’re not failing you’re not innovating enough.” Ultimately, having a good handle on both the theory and practical application of DevOps is essential for organisations that pride themselves on innovation.

What is DevOps theory, and where do I learn it?

The way we see it at ECS Digital, DevOps consultancy consists of three components: people, processes and tools – in that order of importance. DevOps theory is concerned with the first two: people and processes. Because DevOps makes some fundamental changes to the way people within the organisation collaborate, getting a handle on the theory behind it requires completely rethinking the nature of a software company from the ground up. At its core, DevOps is influenced by the principles of agile software development – continuous delivery and integration. Shorter delivery times and working in sprints are the legacy of agile development’s influence on DevOps. There are many resources for learning about DevOps theory all around the internet, from blogs, to social media portals, to training videos on sites like Vimeo and YouTube. However, more in-depth training focuses on theory and practice in equal measure, since mastering DevOps requires an understanding of theory and practice as two sides of the same coin. 

What is the best way to learn about DevOps in practice?

The final component of DevOps in ECS Digital’s view are the tools that underpin the software delivery processes and bring DevOps to life. Defining exactly what a DevOps tool is can be problematic, since there are many aspects of the practice that can be augmented with a huge number of tools, and different organisations may use entirely different combinations of tooling depending on what works best for them. Typically, DevOps tools can be grouped into some core categories: Configuration Management tools like Ansible, Puppet and Chef  make it possible to manage and automate infrastructure as code; Application Deployment tools such as Automic and Jenkins provide the framework for continuous integration, and delivery;

Learning which of these are most valuable to your cause comes with experience of the tools themselves. The DevOps training offered by ECS Digital provides the theoretical foundations and then introduces the practical concept with some of the leading tools.

Whether you’re a DevOps veteran looking for new opportunity for innovation or an aspiring newbie, ECS Digital offers a comprehensive selection of training courses that cover everything from DevOps basics to advanced tips and tricks. As a consultancy with over 12 years’ experience implementing DevOps in organisations around the world and in a myriad of different industries, our training provides some truly unique insights on DevOps. If you’d like to find out more about getting started on your DevOps career, visit our training page to find out more about our Introduction to DevOps course.

Andy CuretonLearning DevOps: Theory versus Practice
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How ChatOps drives innovation, transparency & collaboration in enterprise DevOps

How ChatOps drives innovation, transparency & collaboration in enterprise DevOps

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Since the dawn of the digital age, and even long before that, our culture has been fascinated by the prospect of being able to talk to computers. There’s no better evidence of this than in film and literature – indeed, just about every sci-fi universe is bound to feature at least one form of artificial intelligence (AI) as a central role: without KITT, Knight Rider would have just been a guy with a fancy car. Without HAL 9000, the crew of the Discovery One in 2001: A Space Odyssey might have fared dramatically better. And without R2D2’s help, the Jedi prophecy would never have been kick-started and Luke Skywalker might have lived out his days as a simple farmer on Tatooine. In any event, a development that has been taking the DevOps world by storm in recent months is ChatOps – the practice of integrating ChatBots into a DevOps workflow. While it may still be a couple of years before it becomes sentient, there’s a lot to be said for implementing ChatOps in your delivery pipelines. In this blog, we’ll look at how ChatOps drives innovation, collaboration and transparency in enterprise, and how this facilitates good DevOps practice.

ChatOps puts a human face to automation.

ChatOps centres around conversation-driven automation. What this boils down to is that any command can be handled via an English-language ‘conversation’ with a ChatBot of your choice: from monitoring, to provisioning, to deploying code, to responding to security alerts and even making you coffee! And, while there are several freely available ChatBot scripts – the most popular being Hubot (Javascript), Lita (Ruby), and Err (Python), all of which are open source – it’s easy to customise them to work with specific plug-ins and scripts. This makes it easy to customise your ChatBot to suit the purposes of your organisation, or even a particular project. Ultimately, ChatOps abstracts the complexity of the process and allows complex automation tasks to be carried out with a simple, easily typed command. The upshot of this is that a single message sent to your ChatBot can accomplish what might take a significant amount of time – and, consequently, money – to carry out normally. This is also a bonus for non-technical teams by providing them with the ability to execute complex processes that previously they might not have had the technical skills to achieve.

ChatOps brings everyone’s work to one central location.

With ChatOps, wasting time trying to figure out which of your co-workers ran a particular command or whether the command was even run is a thing of the past – by using a chat client everyone’s work exists in one central place that is visible and accessible to everyone. This encourages collaboration among your team members and the inherent transparency ensures that everyone is working towards the same goals. The benefits to the overall quality of work and working environment are huge here – by bringing your entire team’s work together, there are almost limitless opportunities for cross-pollination of ideas across departments that might not happen if they worked in isolation. ChatBots also facilitate innovation in their own right – firstly, by freeing up time for your team to spend on developing new and innovative projects, and secondly, by providing a framework for innovation by creating plug-ins for the ChatBot itself. The only limit to how innovative you can be is in how far you’re willing to go in customising your ChatBot to suit your needs.

Don’t stagnate by taking ChatOps for granted.

It’s (hopefully) pretty clear from this article that ChatOps provides great opportunities for collaboration, innovation and transparency, but taking your ChatBot for granted could have the opposite effect. Remember that behind the ChatBot are complex processes that have been automated. Encouraging all members of your team to maintain the code and scripts that are in place as well develop enhancements to enable new processes to be accessible from the chat client will go a long way towards staving off complacency. Without this you would create a new sub team within your teams of people that can only execute ChatOps commands and not create or maintain them.

At the same time, new starters in your organisation will benefit from first understanding how the nuts and bolts of your processes work before moving on to using a ChatBot to execute those processes. Once again, this comes down in large part to the culture in your workplace, but bear in mind that using ChatOps should encourage the transparency and collaboration that are key elements of a DevOps culture, which ultimately helps to deliver better software faster.

ECS Digital is a DevOps consultancy with 12 years’ experience implementing DevOps solutions for companies all around the world. If you’re interested in finding out more about our approach and the unique insights we can offer into how to transform your business with DevOps, contact us to request a free DevOps Maturity Assessment.

Image Credit :www.phoenix.k12.or.us

Andy CuretonHow ChatOps drives innovation, transparency & collaboration in enterprise DevOps
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How fostering collaboration in IT builds more innovative teams

How fostering collaboration in IT builds more innovative teams

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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
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How DevOps drives innovation in enterprise

How DevOps drives innovation in enterprise

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Innovation has become a commodity in its own right in the modern marketplace. It’s inevitable, with the constant evolution of technology and the increasingly central role it plays in our personal and professional lives, that the ability to innovate is what separates the businesses that thrive from the ones that stagnate. And in a practical sense, innovation in enterprise largely comes down to software. Every business today relies on software to various extents. It follows, then, that any process that facilitates software innovation is an invaluable asset for businesses in any industry today. In this blog, we’ll look at what makes DevOps the perfect catalyst for innovation in software development, and a powerful tool for organisations looking to stay relevant in an ever-changing market.

Faster, more agile development means more time to innovate with less risk involved.

One of the main benefits of DevOps is that it allows you to deploy software products faster by replacing a siloed culture within your organisation with one of shared accountability and objectives. This allows developers to spend more time experimenting with new features and innovating on existing ones and less time worrying about how they will be deployed and operated. DevOps enables you to quickly and easily set up development and testing environments to execute a Proof of Concept (POC) or deliver a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and evaluate its feasibility. If needs be, it can then be discarded with little to no impact on the project, or incorporated into existing Continuous Delivery or Continuous Testing pipelines as necessary. This ‘fail-fast’ approach keeps Dev and Ops agile and ready to innovate whenever necessary.

In a practical sense, faster and more agile development also makes it easier to remain competitive in an ever-changing market: a Continuous Deployment pipeline doesn’t only result in more regular releases and updates, it shortens the feedback loop with your customer. It allows you to have continuous feedback on how your software is received, provides insight into how it could be improved, and lets you identify opportunities for innovation more easily and critically, much earlier.

In a DevOps culture, requirement documents become starting blocks rather than perimeters.

In traditional software development, the requirements of the project were set out in the beginning, Dev went off and worked towards their objectives and at some point usually late in the project Ops become involved working towards their own objectives. This meant that the scope of the project wouldn’t change from its conception to the time of release. In contrast, DevOps brings together the workflows of development and operations teams through methodologies such as Continuous Delivery, leaving the project constantly open to innovation, optimisation and changes in direction. Requirements documents in a DevOps world become more about providing a central concept that informs the purpose of the software, rather than acting as a set of restrictions that must be adhered to. By opening communication channels and breaking down silos, DevOps gives software projects the room they need to evolve and thrive.

It isn’t just theory – DevOps provides real, quantifiable benefit to the bottom line.

Even though DevOps can be a radical transformation of an organisation’s IT culture, processes and tools, it also has significant impacts on the bottom line. A study by Gene Kim in 2014, which included more than 9,000 organisations across over 100 countries, showed that among those who had successfully implemented DevOps, lead times were an average of 8,000 times faster – yes, that’s thousand – deployments 30 times faster, and speed-to-recovery 12 times faster than those that hadn’t. Being able to deliver at rates like this doesn’t just make innovation easier for companies who live and breathe DevOps – it makes it nearly impossible for those that don’t to survive.


ECS Digital is a DevOps consultancy with 12 years’ experience implementing DevOps solutions in a variety of organisations around the world. For more information on our extensive experience with a range of open source and proprietary DevOps tools and how you can use them to bring new levels of innovation to your business, download our presentation on “Transforming Organizational Culture, Processes & Practices” today.

Andy CuretonHow DevOps drives innovation in enterprise
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