WinOps 2018: Unlocking value from your DevOps initiative

Mark Solomon presenting at WinOps 2018

Making the transition to DevOps will be new for many organisations and technology professionals, although it can result in immense business benefits.

According to research from DORA and Google Cloud, a robust software delivery and operability function underpinned by DevOps increases productivity, profitability, and market share.

But how do you ensure your organisation gets the best return on DevOps transformation or take it to the next level? At WinOps 2018, Accenture’s Mark Solomon (UKI DevOps Platform Lead) spoke about how to craft a transformation journey and turn speed and quality into measurable value.

State of DevOps

Having spent over 19 years working in the IT, Solomon has witnessed massive changes in the sector. It’s clear that digital transformation has become a fundamental requirement for modern organisations.

A big part of Solomon’s role is helping clients to implement DevOps, and since being coined as a term and concept by Patrick Debois ten years ago, there’s no denying that it’s had a transformative impact on businesses globally.

But through his own experiences, and when looking at the 2017 Gartner Hype Cycle, Solomon made the stark point that that what people expect to get from DevOps ways-of-working is not on track. This has led him to wonder whether organisations are actually getting value from DevOps and how this can be changed.

Anatomy of transformation

What stood out about Solomon’s talk is that he used anecdotes throughout. To exemplify how digital transformation can go wrong, he spoke about a large global enterprise that Accenture has been supporting. Mark and his team were tasked with putting together a roadmap after transformation work had already begun at the company.

Their first step was to conduct due diligence, finding out what the client wanted to achieve and what its teams needed. It turned out that the core driver was cost savings, with the company concerned that its technology infrastructure had become unsustainable and bloated.

By implementing DevOps, setting KPIs for head count reduction, and introducing automation tools, the business thought it’d be able to save money. While some cost savings were realised, the initiative resulted in new BAU costs and a negative cultural impact. What’s more, no one was clear on the next step; Agile was never realised; and there were disconnects around cloud migration and architecture modernisation.

Mark believes that this particular transformation didn’t succeed as the company assumed automated tools could solve all its problems. The end result was a stagnated and confused organisation, heavily reliant on automation. Mark’s view is that organisations need to build strong teams around the technology. “If you are just looking to cut some costs, automation seems like a good idea, but do not confuse that with DevOps,” urged Solomon. 

Business is changing

There’s a great deal of value that businesses can unlock through digital transformation, but it’s not something that can be achieved overnight. In a highly interactive session, Mark quizzed the audience about linking IT with revenue and claimed that this needs a transformed way of thinking that involves everyone across the organisation and that is underpinned by strong leadership.

Organisations truly embracing DevOps have the ability to impact customer decision-making and customer experience, too. With technology, they can transform customer service, marketing, delivery, and billing. To prove the power of great customer experience, Mark explained how he was convinced to upgrade from his ageing MP3 to the iPod Touch not because it was impressive at the time but because he experienced friendly customer support from Apple.

Describing IT as the engine machine of modern organisations, Mark provided some valuable advice about how to develop products and services that resonate with customers. Businesses should ask the following questions:

  • Engine accuracy: how accurate are those ideas?
  • Engine cycle: How long does it take to do a full cycle?
  • Engine size: How many ideas can you churn out?
  • Engine oil level: Does your culture have too much friction for change?

Clearly, embracing DevOps allows organisations to address these areas, and in many ways, it’s at the heart of successful technology teams. And although Agile is important, Mark explained that it shouldn’t be simply about faster releases but minimum viable product, feedback, and change.

Mark did a great job of showing that DevOps isn’t just about harnessing the latest technologies, but creating a High-Performance IT team reinforced by a sustainable workplace culture. People are, therefore, critical.

Learn more about what DevOps can do for your business here.

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