• DevOps
  • E.G Nadhan
  • JAN 23, 2018

Your IT may have gone DevOps but how about your Business

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DevOps, as a concept, may be getting a lot of traction in IT but how about extending the same thought process to the business of the enterprise?  As a matter of fact, enterprises that proactively apply DevOps to the business side of the house are more likely to realize tangible returns from its adoption long term.  I go back to my article on the 9 key phrases of DevOps leading up to its definition. Join me as I revisit each phrase and explore how it could apply to the business of the enterprise.

The definition for DevOps that I came around to in this article is:

DevOps is a way of life for people with the right mindset to embrace the culture to collaborate, while scientifically automating the continuous delivery of software features, with the rigor and discipline of continuous integration and a passion for continuous testing, while using the power of standardized tooling to continuously monitor everything being done.

Let us pair this down.

Culture of the enterprise.  Let us take a cue from what Sabre CEO, Sean Menke shares in this interview about Jim Whitehurst, author of the book, The Open Organization: ““I recently read a book written by Jim Whitehurst, a former Delta executive who is now the CEO of Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of Open Source software.  Jim transitioned a very structured management environment (airlines) to the open organization that characterizes Red Hat.  In fact, I have asked my management team to read his book “The Open Organization.”  Culture can drive the type of change best suited for enterprises to partner with change -- using the devops mindset.

Mindset of the people.  Great people are the foundation of a great team” -- says Kevin O’Rourke, winner of the Corporate CIO award from the Charlotte CIO Leadership Association.  More than the people themselves, it is the collective mindset that is the force that drives change -- the mindset that is imperative for embracing DevOps across the enterprise.  

Art of Collaboration.  The fundamental need for DevOps stemmed from the traditional practices of software being “thrown-over-the-wall” from Development to Operations.  The need to break this wall and reach out and collaborate is something that business units must embrace as well to serve the needs of the end consumer.  Business Units may be many but the end consumer is one.  The art of effective collaboration not only applies to the business units within the enterprise but can also go across enterprises.  Checkout how Domino’s Pizza and Ford are collaborating the next time you think of ordering Pizza!

Science of Automation.  While taking a break, I took the opportunity to revisit my financial portfolio and considered picking up the phone and setting up an appointment with my financial analyst. But, wait a minute; I had received a communication recently from this institution about the availability of a machine-like interface where I can interact with a faceless agent who can provide me guidance on making financial decisions.  Hello Robo Advisor!  Automation can be applied to the business interaction with the consumer as well just like it is done for IT processes.  

Discipline of Continuous Integration.  “Context is queen”, said Boeing Fellow Brian Mclaughlin during the Executive Roundtable I facilitated at the CDM Media CIO Retail Summit.  When the customer is at the store looking for a product, the retailer must have all the relevant information about the customer’s purchasing patterns and within easy reach to make appropriate suggestions. Information must be continuously integrated from different data sources -- which is why, I maintain -- The “I” in IoT is for Integration!

Passion for Continuous Testing. Every enterprise must try out new business features with a mindset of an innovative startup.  General Mills CEO, Jeff Harmening is all up for driving change challenging the perception that “large old companies can’t innovate fast enough to keep up with new competitors.”  Failing fast when trying out new functionality is vital to continuously inject features that matter to the end consumer.  Continuous Testing is one way to keep a tab on the mindset of the external consumer.

Need for Continuous Delivery. The Retail industry provides great insights into how the concept of Continuous Delivery can be applied to both Business and IT.  This article on the Ten Commandments of Retail Business and Technology calls out the alignment between the IT principles called out by the CTO and the business principles advocated by the CEO.  

System of Continuous Monitoring.  Forward thinking CIOs reach out and engage with their Chief Marketing Officers.  This is because the CMO has direct visibility into the mindset of the customer through various channels including social media.  Ensuring continuous, direct access to the sentiment of the customer can channel the right behavioral shifts across the agile enterprise.  

Power of Standardized Tooling.  So, how does standardized tooling apply to the business of the enterprise?  Well, to effectively enable the various aspects listed above, the underlying platforms and technologies must be standardized.  The focus must be on the content that is communicated and exchanged rather than the specific tools used.  Technologies used must be intuitive so that employees can be rapidly onboarded to hit the ground running with the devops mindset.

There you have it.

The 9 key phrases that I had originally identified keeping the IT side of the house in mind can be applied to the business too -- same concepts applied a different way.

What say you?

What are other steps that enterprises can take to apply the concept of DevOps to the business?

Please let me know.  Let us talk about the Business of applying DevOps!


This article is a variation of the original article published on LinkedIn (The Business of DevOps in Minneapolis)

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