It’s only a day into the main sessions at IBM InterConnect and it’s already clear that the most persistent theme that’ll be impressed upon the 21,000-strong crowd this year is one of business disruption. Woven throughout programming about cloud, mobile, analytics and DevOps innovation, the case studies already presented yesterday offer a testament to the disruptive power of IT transformation—and there’s more to follow in the next few days. Most important to the DevOps community, these stories don’t just show the hows of making good on DevOps, continuous delivery and iterative IT strategies. They also show the whys driving DevOps momentum.
Sometimes the DevOps community can get so fixated on the intricacies of orchestrating DevOps practices and processes that it misses the forest for the trees. Ultimately, DevOps is about helping the business completely shake up product delivery models, customer interactions and core business processes through a makeover in how IT delivers its services. And so, it becomes clear through this disruptive message that the show this week offers an informative glimpse of what the stakes are for DevOps transformations.
Throughout the day, IBM talking heads and a number of big-name customers explained how its become a eat or be eaten digital world across all industries as new technologies introduce new modes of doing business.
“If you don’t believe that your industry is changing, then you’d better step back and take a look at what your competitors are doing,” said Robert LeBlanc, senior vice president of cloud and software solutions for IBM, “because there are going to be disruptors and the disrupted. I’ll tell you that it is much more fun to be a disruptor than disrupted.”
It’s a real concern in the financial sector, according to Citi’s head honcho for consumer digital experience, Heather Cox. In the general session yesterday, she explained that her two biggest challenges are caused by disruptive technology forces. The first is facing up to new entrants into the field of financial services that has had barriers to entry diminished by increased mobility and connectivity.
“We have new people stepping into our landscape every single day,” said Cox, chief client experience digital and marketing officer for global consumer banking at Citi. “The payments and banking space is being fundamentally transformed. It has been said that people need banking , they don’t necessarily need banks.”
Almost equally challenging is the fact that her customers’ expectations for digital interactions are being rewritten by forces completely outside of her industry’s sphere of influence.
“I no longer look to my competitors to try to determine where we need to go or how we need to think about innovation,” she said. “I have the likes of FitBit, Uber, Nest–things that have nothing to do with banking but have everything to do with setting our clients’ expectations.”
In order to meet head-on the kinds of challenges Cox outlined, IT executives are going to need to do a better job taking advantage of the data and the tools already available to them, explained Pascal Eymery, vice president of strategy and business development customer support
“Look around 360 degrees, because I’m sure you have customers and suppliers and employees who have tons of data ready to be shared to create value for others,” he told the crowd, explaining that speed is paramount, especially as cloud and mobile technologies put continuous delivery in the realm of possibility. “One very good thing with new technology is its capability for agility; with cloud and mobile you can develop very quickly, you can try something and then you can scale fast if it works or just try something else if it doesn’t.”
Fundamentally, both IT and line-of-business executives grappling with the decision to start a DevOps journey should ask themselves a big question, said Gary Gruver, president at Large Scale Practical Agile.
“If you could start to say yes to all of the business requests coming in to IT and become two to three times more productive, would that matter for your business?” said Gruver, who explained in his InterConnect session yesterday how he was able to achieve that kind of productivity gain through DevOps practices while managing a team of 800 developers in HP’s printer firmware division.
“As executives leading large organizations, if you felt like you could deliver 2x to 3x productivity as opposed to trying to go out and hire two to three times more people and ruin your cost structure, there probably isn’t anything more important that you could be focused on.”