Business leaders know, for their business to succeed in the years ahead, that their IT and developer teams need to innovate. But surveys show that too often the IT teams may not be able to deliver the innovative value that the business seeks. Have a look out our recent Q&A, The IT mandate: Be a catalyst of business innovation for some more insight on the IT and business innovation gap. The fact is that technology and developer teams can’t do it on their own, they need to operate in an environment that enables innovation. In speaking with CIOs, developers, and others close to the process of creating value with IT a number of obstacles continuously surface. And these obstacles are holding their development efforts back.
These obstacles include the tight collaboration with development and operations teams, the failure to actually embrace Shadow IT for what it actually is, staying stuck in single mode IT, and oversights in how they are developing mobile applications.
Here they are:
Obstacle Number 1: They don’t effectively unleash the power of their developers. DevOps teams are known to grind through technical debt and when they manage to hit on all cylinders they also have very short application backlogs. One way to keep such app backlogs short is to focus on the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Because the MVP is an application that is, initially, focused only on what it takes to get the job done, and no less or more, developers don’t get bogged down overdeveloping apps that won’t get used. To be clear, MVP doesn’t mean shoddy app, rather it means the minimum app to be productive at the task. With this Spartan approach, development teams can invest no more than is needed into an app, release it into production and see how enthusiastically (or not) it is embraced by the user base. This enables development teams to push apps forward with as little risk and investment as necessary. And then either dig deeper into that app, or move on to another.
What does that have to do with innovation? Plenty if you consider the amount of time saved from over-developing applications that wont be used and investing that time and effort elsewhere, perhaps apps that will provide value to the organization.
Obstacle Number 2: They don’t embrace shadow IT. Rather than embrace Shadow IT, many organizations shun the notion of users choosing the tools and technology they need to get their job done. But end users and employees are turning to cloud services and bringing their own devices because these are the devices and services that they know they enjoy to use and they can use to effectively do their jobs. That makes for more productive and happier workers. Certainly not just any old rogue service and device can be used, but the enterprise can watch and vet the services that are safe or find ways to make them safe. A good place to look for this is the Cloud Security Alliance’s Security Guidance for Critical Areas of Mobile Computing.
Obstacle Number 3: They don’t bimodal. By not embracing two-speed or bimodal IT, enterprises have a harder time allotting resources to strategic development and IT efforts. In bimodal IT there are two modes, one mode is focused on quickly delivering the applications the enterprise most needs to compete and be effective while the other mode is focused on the infrastructure services and API development and management.
A good overview on bimodal IT can be found here in our post Bimodal IT and Remodeling Traditional IT for Greater Agility.
Obstacle Number 4: There exists an average to poor business to technology interface in the organization. In too many organizations there is a lot of collaboration within the technology groups, such as operations and developers, but not enough interfacing with the business teams. For better outcomes, there needs to be tighter collaboration between DevOps and the business through continuous feedback on current and future objectives. This way DevOps teams know what the business priorities are and can develop to them more effectively.
Obstacle number 5: They aren’t focused on the context within mobile moments. The world of IT has gone mobile and will someday go wearable. This is more than just a mere form factor trade; it is creating a profound change in the way we interact with our apps. When we sit down to work on a laptop, we are usually settling in for a nice stretch of work time. However, when it comes to phones and wearables, we are usually working in short instances. We are sending a text, answering one email, or capturing one or two new data points about a client for entry into the CRM app. Developers need to focus on providing users apps that work in the same way too. That is they need to develop apps that provide users the data they need based on short device interactions and hopefully context of what they’re doing. If the user were at a clients’ office, for instance, and the rep launces the CRM app, it’d be ideal if that customer profile launched by default with the app. If the user is involved in a certain workflow, other items that are commonly taken care of at the same time would also ideally be suggested.
While these obstacles may sound simple, they can be quite transformative to the way your business-technology teams will develop, collaborate with the business, and hopefully provide more innovative services.