Digital transformation is now a focus of virtually every organisation, particularly with those wishing to expand or develop their omni-channel approach.
Consumers have always been omni-channel people, simply because while as many organisations would try to push users towards a channel that suited the business, the user would always go the channel that suited them the most. A business used to believe that omni-channel translated to making a product or service available on web, phones and in retail outlets. While the businesses would continue to incentivise customers to go towards a channel of their choice by offering discounts or even additional costs (such as a penalty) for transacting on the channel that did not suit the business, the simple facts were that a user would always go the route that suited them the most and this would change depending on the user’s location and technology available to them and mobile innovation has made expanded on channel choice for users even more.
More recently, the focus on an omni-channel approach has to result in a seamless transition for customers to move between channels. Thats the same experience across all devices (desktop, tablets and mobiles) and locations even to the point that the user can effectively switch between channels partway through their experience and pick up where they left off.
Nearly every business is now working on digital transformation in some form or another, there is a significant movement in the digital space as it permeates throughout all parts of the organisation. All eyes are focused on the next generation of digital innovation and the emerging DevOps culture is being heralded as the driver of that next wave of change. There are a number of facets that apply to the new digital revolution and the DevOps that is driving that change.
To successfully support digital transformation, traditional IT must get closer to the business and completely obliterate the barriers that typically separate IT from the rest of the organisation. IT departments are not simply being given new boxes of money with open instructions to go forth, build, develop and such. The serious question is, how do we create nimble operating models while delivering superior customer service. How do we ensure the capability to capture, analyse and react to customer behaviour in an omni-channel world and how do we successfully deliver greater volumes of high-quality innovative products and services.
To create the foundations, IDC identified three keys to success:
- Extend current infrastructure to cloud and cloud service applications
- Focus on continuous delivery through DevOps practices
- Achieve analytics excellence across all data the organisation has access to
The approach is not to choose one of these, but should include the orchestration of all three at once to achieve a full program of digital transformation across a business and sustain continuous development, integration and innovation. The ability to bring the right data, with the user experience and make the decisions concerning development “on demand” is a huge advantage and identifies missed or unknown requirements very early in the development journey resulting in faster prototypes and earlier versions of a minimum viable product.
IDC predicts that over 80% of the Global 1000 will be incorporating DevOps into their practices by 2019, so it’s becoming clear that this is an important component of any digital strategy, so what is DevOps? Well, it’s a program, it’s an approach and its a new way of doing things. While traditional ITIL methods of development, waterfall project methodologies and the like have moved software and applications development so far, the new ‘two-speed’ or multi-speed approach started to gain attention. It essentially meant that development teams would be seperated into two streams of activity, the traditional approach combined with a more nimble team to manage innovation and similar type activities. In practice, many places have used a ‘skunkworks’ team alongside IT project areas which often starts to drive some innovation in the business. However, many IT teams were already doing this so the newly hailed approach was quickly (or in some cases – already) the normal approach being employed.
Wikipedia gives the definition that DevOps as “a culture, movement or practice that emphasizes the collaboration and communication of both software developers and other information-technology (IT) professionals while automating the process of software delivery and infrastructure changes. It aims at establishing a culture and environment where building, testing, and releasing software, can happen rapidly, frequently, and more reliably.”
In practice however, this translates to a number of facets that are brought together by a series of cultural changes within the DevOps environment. Coding is not done in a waterfall method, its built, learned, modified, enhanced as you go through continuous loops of testing. Sure it can be packaged into something bigger (such as a release), but it’s not done in the typical massive releases that would normally take place over months of work (during which time, technology can, and often does move on). Configurations change repeatedly and monitoring across all these is continuous, detailed and instant. There are many tools that have emerged that help DevOps to work and new ones (or enhanced ones) are being constantly released. The OpenStack platform is a tool to provide substantial assistance with open source software that blends well with the DevOps approach.
DevOps will minimise the friction between developers in the digital space, and operations so that applications can be built quickly and more frequently. The open communication that is required for DevOps to work underpins the success of the reduced friction between the two. The business end is a significant part of the communication and provides confirmation and direction of requirements. The DevOps approach often uses software and hardware as a service tools provisioning to their needs cheaper, faster and when needed. The results in real terms mean that test environments can be provisioned instantly in the cloud. A new software tool that is needed can be purchased on the internet as part of a subscription and these all provide the necessary functions to complete the application development faster.
Running multiple development teams even becomes easier with the DevOps approach. The open communication, continuous approach to develop, test, deploy and start again only helps both development teams to understand the pipelines of activity and work within it. This continues to work when using internal and external development teams, however, the ongoing communications ensures a collaborative approach. The development activities of one team can often be used to inform external development activities providing prototypes, improved requirements and advanced analytics having tried certain avenues to support the initiative. An agile project methodology to support these activities can also help with the use of internal and external sprints and these have been known to really fast track the digital transformation.
The resulting approach sees ongoing change, implementation and development and the organisation benefits from the result. DevOps will not solely be responsible for the digital transformation, but watching the constant rate of activity and growth in the development program not only encourages an organisation to continue to produce great digital experiences but if they are already well behind (and most are) it will certainly provide the building blocks to catch up.
Whats your plan to include DevOps in to your Digital Strategy and Transformation?