When trying to build great organizations today, it’s no longer sufficient to simply be agile enough to respond to meet today’s market demands. No. While that may have been good enough a decade ago. Today, enterprises need to be able to anticipate market changes and use technology to innovate ahead of the market.
As readers of DevOps.com know, DevOps, continuous integration, and continuous delivery are all approaches that enterprises use to drive the business outcomes they need through the use of technology.
This ability to respond more rapidly to market dynamics is one of the big reasons why enterprises have embraced cloud services. It’s also why they are increasingly embracing APIs, mobile, big data analytics, and more. But it’s not always easy to get these moves right.
Consider the demands enterprises face building their mobile applications. Despite best efforts, these apps too often don’t solve the business need they intended, and don’t deliver the new abilities initially sought. They build applications that attempt to accomplish too much, and end up being overly complicated and largely unused as a result. Or they take old habits, such as desktop and mainframe apps and squash them onto mobile devices without giving any thought to how the app may be used on that form actor.
I started thinking about all of this when recently reviewing the results of a survey conducted by the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network, an executive advocacy organization, which found that there is a big disconnect between the understanding business leaders have when it comes to their knowing that they need to innovate – and the ability to actually do so.
This brought me back to a discussion I recently had with Brian Katz, then the head of end user experience and innovation at Sanofi. He spoke about how good app design is one of those things that are crucial to driving business innovation today, but enterprises don’t often don’t get their apps built right. This is because they end up developing complicated apps that people don’t actually use instead of developing apps that their users really need.
That observation parallels the findings in the BPI Network Study Accelerating Business Transformation Through IT Innovation, which found that from the C-suite out to operational units, senior managers want to implement technologies to increase agility, improve customer experience, and make their companies more competitive. The 250 respondents said:
- 65% say technology has become “far more important” to their organizations in the past five years. Another 28% see it as “somewhat” more important.
- 47% say they’re spending more time on understanding strategic implications of new technologies, and another 40% say they’re “working on it.”
- The three most-pressing IT imperatives were: improve responsiveness to ever-changing business requirements (37%); Focus on digital experience as a competitive advantage (30%); and delivering applications faster, better, and at a low cost (30%).
- Three areas that would benefit most from transformative technologies: Operational efficiency and effectiveness (52%); Customer experience, monetization and retention (33%); and Organizational alignment, culture and collaboration (28%).
When it came to data center and cloud transformation, they found:
- Top three benefits of data center and cloud transformation: Increased agility and responsiveness to business changes (70%); Greater cost efficiencies (57%); Faster time to innovation for new applications (46%)
- How executives plan to change their data centers: Migrate to hybrid IT that blends traditional data centers with the cloud (45%); Modernize and upgrade (45%); consolidate servers (32%)
- Three most transformative technologies to give a competitive advantage: Real-time intelligence from embedded sensors – IoT (34%); Always on, highly scalable and web based models (33%); Social media data mining and more efficient engagement (29%)
However, business managers are not satisfied, generally, with what they see as the slow pace of innovation in their IT organizations:
- Only 14% rate the level of innovation in IT organizations as “very high” vs. 15% that chose “poor.” Most gave middle ratings: “making progress” (37%) or “good” (32%).
- How well is the IT organization executing mandate to transform and become a more strategic, responsive and a valued business partner? Only 15% said “very well” while 10% said “poor.” Most were in the middle: 28% said “good” and 44% said “making progress.”
- What business metrics would you use to evaluate IT performance and effectiveness (top 3): Reliability, scalability and security of IT infrastructure (43%); Ideas and solutions for furthering business performance (40%); Quality and timeliness or app delivery (35%).
The lackluster view of the role of technology and the ability to innovate at levels business leaders expect was surprising, to me. It’s not as if using technology to differentiate is something that is new to business. It’s not. It’s something we’ve been doing for decades now, and one would expect enterprises would be generally better at it than they are. With that in mind, I reached out to Dave Murray, head of thought leadership at the BPI Network regarding these survey results. You can find that interview here.