DevOps: From a Business and Executive Perspective - InformationWeek

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9/18/2018
08:00 AM
Bill Kleyman
Bill Kleyman
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DevOps: From a Business and Executive Perspective

Some of the roadblocks to a successful DevOps initiative have nothing to do with technology or the IT group. Business unit leaders and executives have to get involved in the initiative as well.

Creating an environment that is capable of shifting and adapting to market demands isn’t always easy. Remember, the major goal here is to develop agility around both business and technology. DevOps is certainly a method to accomplish this task. I mentioned this in my "DevOps 101" article, but it’s worth repeating. The concept of DevOps isn’t just a single tool or platform. Rather, it truly is a shift in thinking in how you deliver services, applications, and even business capabilities into a digital market. In some ways, it’s the engine around digital transformations.

DevOps is:

  • A cultural shift in how processes, code, and technology is delivered.
  • A philosophy around continuous development and integration with users, business, and even market dynamics.
  • A practice that continuously evolves at the base pf business.
  • A tool to help deliver services and applications and market-ready speeds.
  • A process to help companies innovate at a much faster pace than what traditional (or legacy) software tools and even infrastructure could offer.

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

In having conversations with numerous technologists, there seems to be a greater understanding about DevOps and how to adopt the practice. However, it’s the business and management teams that can oftentimes be bottlenecks. And, if business leaders don’t understand DevOps and how to create a platform based on agility, you may very well be sacrificing the vast benefits that DevOps can bring.

“DevOps challenges conventional IT thinking with its lack of a standard definition and approach, its constant evolution, and its requirement for acceptance and management of risk,” says George Spafford, research director at Gartner.

“For example, instead of focusing on release rates and doing things faster, start with the business value by asking what that will enable,” explains Spafford. “The justification could be something like ‘by increasing our release rate, we will be able to innovate faster and thus support sales and marketing’s push for ordering with a mobile app.’ The most successful organizations know the business benefits they hope to realize from DevOps.”

That last point probably is the most critical to understand. Those organizations that are willing and ready to adopt a DevOps strategy will see their development cycles and even innovation capabilities vastly improve.

I want to focus the rest of our time here addressing the executive, manager, and business leader. I want them to understand where DevOps fits into their world and how it directly impacts the business.

Think about the applications and services your sales force uses; DevOps improves all of this. Imagine a salesperson being able to analyze an entire market with a click of a mouse. They can see where there is business based on data and how to approach certain segments. Or, think about the life sciences or healthcare professional who can now spend more time with their patients or clients. DevOps streamlines operations to improve data visibility into things like population health, genomics, and much more. Finally, think about how sales, marketing, and even pre-sales activities can all be improved with better data utilization to show key market trends and even patterns. I’ve seen so many use-cases where DevOps can directly impact sales. The key is just to ask the right questions and getting started.

Think about understanding the market and improving competitive positioning; DevOps solutions introduce services that make this happen. Ever hear of something called sentiment analysis? Well, this solution leverages data, natural language processing (NLP), and a host of other techniques to better understand what makes us, the consumer, happy (or sad). In using NLP, text analysis, computational linguistics, and biometrics we’re able to understand "the voice" of the customer. That’s not all; you can also understand the sentiment around your competition. Why don’t people like their products? What can you do to improve your own? Most of all, this data is in real-time as well as historical realms. This rich market understanding helps create competitive advantages.

Think about the cost to run your business; DevOps helps alleviate those costs by introducing things like cloud and agility. Do you have idle data center resources? Do you spend way too much running an IT environment? DevOps can allow you to create powerful business solutions that leverage resources only when their being used. This is the power of automation, DevOps, and the cloud. And then, there’s the ability to scale and innovate at the pace of software. Removing manual processes and creating these solutions is a big way DevOps alleviates the costs of running a business.

Remember, the concepts around DevOps span so much more than a technology landscape. In my own experience, I’ve worked with entire business units to introduce and leverage the power of DevOps. The entire secret here is to translate DevOps as a technology into business as a practice. Yes, this means a business analyst might request a function to be run to help them understand the market better. The difference here is that DevOps can make this entire process seamless and automated. Suddenly, technology is truly working for the business without much IT intervention.

Plus, a good design can make DevOps extremely friendly to almost all business functions. That being said, leverage good technologists and partners who can truly translate the concepts around DevOps into business language. This means understanding cost, where it can be deployed, and actually showcasing real use-cases. Remember, this doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing initiative. DevOps pilot programs are a great way to test these new ideas and better understand how your business can leverage innovative and advanced concepts.

  Bill Kleyman brings more than 15 years of experience to his role as Executive Vice President of Digital Solutions at Switch. Using the latest innovations, such as AI, machine learning, data center design, DevOps, cloud and advanced technologies, he delivers solutions ... View Full Bio
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