Recently, the team at Broadcom hosted the BizOps Virtual Summit. This represents the first event to bring together experts from a range of disciplines to focus on BizOps, a strategic approach for connecting IT efforts to business outcomes.
The event featured experts from such areas as artificial intelligence (AI), DevOps, Site Reliability Engineering (SRE), automation, and more. Speakers included Tom Davenport, renowned author and educator; Stephen Elliot, IDC analyst; enterprise leaders from such companies as ADP, Ford, Nationwide Building Society, and Sun Life; and senior Broadcom executives.
Viewing the event, I was impressed by the spectrum of expertise on display, and the depth of insights that were provided. Here are four of the takeaways I found most compelling.
#1. Decision Making: Ripe for Disruption
Tom Davenport has written and taught extensively on the topic of automatic decision making, having first covered the topic back in 2013. In his keynote session, Davenport outlined why the time might be right for many decision makers to start to capitalize on the massive potential automatic decision making can provide.
In recent years, a lot has changed in such areas as analytics, AI, and machine learning. Given that, it can be easy to assume that these advances are bringing broad-based progress to decision making in businesses. However, in interviewing executives, Davenport still often finds there aren’t formal, rigorous processes for decision making. While significant amounts of data may be available, ultimately, executives don’t really use the data to inform their decision making. Instead, decision makers revert back to intuition and experience, and that can be a problem: Davenport referenced the field of behavioral economics, which has revealed that more than 120 cognitive biases can shape people’s economic decisions.
Davenport went on to discuss how organizations are bringing data and decision making closer together, and how today’s advancements are giving rise to increased automation of decisions. He also outlined some early successes in the area of automated decision making. For example, he touched on online advertising, where sophisticated teams are employing automation to stay on top of rapidly changing variables and boost campaign results.
#2. Digital Transformation: A Team Sport
It was basketball superstar Michael Jordan who said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” So it is in the modern enterprise, where successful transformation only happens with teamwork and intelligence.
Throughout the Virtual Summit, speakers focused on the criticality of collaboration and alignment, particularly between business and IT. For example, Stephen Elliot of IDC underscored how vital it is to bring cross-functional teams together and align them around a focus on continuous measurement and improvement of the metrics that matter to customers and the business. Serge Lucio, GM of the Enterprise Software Division at Broadcom, examined how a lack of empathy is a fundamental obstacle to transformation in many enterprises today. He explained how without empathy—a real understanding of others’ priorities and challenges—there simply can’t be effective collaboration, or true transformation.
#3. BizOps: Even Small Starts Can Have Big Business Outcomes
Sun Life is one company that’s made fast inroads in profiting from BizOps approaches. In his presentation, Shayne Rinne, director of operational excellence at Sun Life, showed how, by establishing a unified view of their environment, the ITOps team was able to quickly realize an early win. Now, when issues arise, staff members have unified data they can trust. By leveraging this visibility, the team was able to reduce mean time to detection from 46 minutes to 19 minutes. Further, they know exactly who needs to be involved in troubleshooting—as opposed to the “all-hands-on-deck” fire drills teams used to contend with—which translates to a big boost in overall staff efficiency.
In addition, Mike Sydor, chief architect from ADP, explained how his organization has also realized quick wins by bringing IT and business teams together. They leveraged corporate training and individual staff development plans that incentivized a change in behavior. Through improved collaboration and innovative technology, they were able to roll out an early pilot that not only delivered tangible business outcomes, but that offered an approach and infrastructure that could be leveraged across additional areas moving forward.
#4. The Right Metric: Priceless
Sydor also offered a compelling look at the role of key performance indicators (KPIs) at ADP. As they’ve completed their transition to an SRE-anchored model, they’ve continued to gather comprehensive, raw metrics from a broad range of sources, while refining and distilling the KPIs that truly facilitate enhanced management. They were able to successfully shift from IT-centric to business-centric metrics. They’ve expanded monitoring over the development, testing, and operations lifecycle; established meaningful baselines and intelligent trend analysis; and gained a strong understanding of performance across releases. Ultimately, in this way, they’ve been able to work toward the concept of defining an application’s unique performance signature.
One of their key learnings has been to calculate the rate of change in key metrics, which has been essential in their ability to identify unexpected events and move from static to dynamic alerting. Over time, they’ve been able to refine and validate their metrics and uncover the golden signal, the true “North star,” that defines essential parts of business performance.
Ultimately, through building baselines, defining KPIs, and validating how those KPIs translate to business performance, that they’ve been able to boost IT and business collaboration. Sydor recounted how, early on, it took a leap of faith to get IT and business leaders to understand and believe that you don’t need to have thousands of metrics at your fingertips, but that a few metrics really enable you to track what ultimately matters: aspects like the customer experience and business outcomes.
The above takeaways are just a few of the insights that were revealed at the BizOps Virtual Summit. If you missed the event, register for the on-demand summit to access all the event’s engaging presentations. In addition, be sure to continue to visit bizops.com. In the coming weeks, we’ll be providing more resources and perspectives on this informative event.
Randy Budde is the editor in chief of bizops.com. A freelance writer and editor, Randy has been developing content extensively in the enterprise security and software markets for more than 25 years. Over the years, he’s written on a wide range of technologies and topics, including artificial intelligence, automation and orchestration, BizOps, encryption, IT service management, and software development.