BizOps: The Logical Evolution of DevOps as Leaders Seek Real Business Value

BizOps is not another industry buzzword. An extension of DevOps and agile methodologies, BizOps is an approach that aligns IT and business leaders. And it’s taking hold among some of the most forward-thinking enterprise leaders who want to realize the full potential of their digital transformation.

More broadly, BizOps is a data-driven framework for decision making that connects IT departments with business functions, so these teams can align technology decisions to drive business outcomes. The approach uses artificial intelligence (AI) to augment and automate some processes, and to provide continuous insight and collective intelligence. BizOps builds off agile methodologies and DevOps, which are IT-centric approaches that are aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of technology departments.

While it’s a relatively new concept, BizOps addresses age-old frictions between business leaders and IT departments.

Historically, IT has been viewed as a cost center instead of a value center. With business teams often dictating requirements, the nature of the relationship could be considered contractual in nature. However, today, with AI and machine learning technologies that capture, aggregate, and automate data sets across the enterprise, IT can play a new role. Through data-driven insights, IT and business teams can drive collaboration and better alignment around business initiatives. In other words, IT and business can form a true partnership to create value.

“Many companies that have been successful with agile and DevOps are running into issues when they try to scale, or integrate development and operations, because they end up building applications and technology that don’t fit together in an optimal way,” says Mike Rosen, an analyst with IDC who focuses on strategic IT architecture and digital transformation. “A lot of these companies are now looking at BizOps as a way to extend the continuous cycle of DevOps to include the business considerations, so IT can build the right stuff faster.”

Today's enterprises are navigating a new reality, which requires them to rethink their digital business strategies and reimagine how they operate. In this ever-changing environment, one fraught with shifting priorities, siloed business groups, and increasingly complex IT environments, it’s easy to see why these chasms between business stakeholders and IT teams still exist.

To further explore the challenges that business leaders face and how BizOps can help them forge a better way forward with IT teams, we recently commissioned a survey of more than 200 business executives with Harvard Business Review Analytics Services. The findings are now available in a report entitled “BizOps: Connecting IT to Business Outcomes."1

This report offers telling insights that echo the conversations that I’ve had with business leaders over the years. The survey revealed that 48% of respondents stated that the complexity of IT environments has created a sense of chaos within their organizations. Further, 74% of those surveyed said IT environments are likely to become significantly more complex within the next 18 months. And perhaps most revealing is the fact that 69% of respondents reported that the metrics that IT teams track to measure success (such as application uptime and project completions) don’t work to improve the metrics that business teams track (for example, increased revenue per customer or more sales per hour). The result? Inefficiencies, conflicting definitions on what constitutes success, and, worse, a disconnect between business goals and actual outcomes.

Silos within organizations present further challenges. Not only do silos obstruct the gathering of data across disparate business functions, but they impede collaboration between IT and business leaders. Getting back to my earlier point about the transactional nature of IT teams, poor collaboration leaves IT cut off from the rest of the organization.

The study also found that 49% of business executives reported that poor alignment between the necessary departments and teams is one of the biggest barriers to successful digital transformation for their organization. Another 42% cited siloed or incomplete data as a top hinderance to digital transformation initiatives within their companies.

But it’s not all doom and gloom—BizOps can help. BizOps is an extension of DevOps, but with greater strategic planning, continuous measurement, and enterprise context. When executives fully understand the concept of BizOps, they see the value in implementing it within their organizations. Eighty-six percent of executives indicated that BizOps would be beneficial or, in some cases, already is beneficial to their organizations. Also, 89% of executives said that BizOps could significantly improve decision making by enhancing collaboration between IT and business teams.

We are seeing this today as companies pivot to overcome business challenges in the COVID-19 world. To stay vital and viable in uncertain times, many are leveraging data-driven insights from AI/machine learning technologies to attract new customers, offer new services, or capture new revenue streams. The survey results support this movement too: 87% agreed that human workers using AI to support their business decisions ultimately leads to improved decision making.

Leveraging AI and machine learning technologies with the collaboration of IT teams will likely be the “new normal” of decision making in business. Given this, executives should consider how they can align their IT development, operations, and business units to react faster to satisfy customer demands. BizOps offers a way forward, providing greater visibility, collaboration, efficiencies—and most importantly—better business results for the enterprise.

1. Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, in association with Broadcom, “BizOps: Connecting IT to Business Outcomes,” June 2020