As a program vice president within IDC, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with technology and business leaders from across a wide range of enterprises and industries in recent months. I’ve been able to get a current look at the changes taking place and gain insights into the strategies that are enabling continued success in this unprecedented landscape. In this post, I offer a look at the trends that have been shaping enterprises in this new business climate. In addition, I offer prescriptive guidance for how various teams can apply BizOps to accelerate enterprise digital transformation, so they can thrive in this new paradigm.
In recent months, we’ve been talking with many teams within large enterprises, listening to how business objectives and markets have evolved. It’s clear that these enterprises have entered a new normal, leaving many teams scrambling to adapt to new demands. Often, there’s real uncertainty around whether the new customer engagement and IT operations models that are emerging are temporary or here for the long term. Here’s an overview of how these new realities are affecting different organizations:
Given the new realities that are emerging, teams need to contend with a diverse set of demands:
At the same time, these teams need to pursue these objectives while pursuing unprecedented complexity and rate of change. For example, multi-cloud environments are here to stay. According to our research, 93% are now using multiple clouds. Teams are adopting new application models, including containers and microservices. This is all fueling tremendous complexity.
These imperatives are driving the need for more collaboration around product planning and deployment—not just one team can do it. Teams must therefore pursue an evolution in how decisions are made and who’s making the decisions. This requires unprecedented collaboration of teams as well as consolidation of data. Before, there were traditional silos for data collection and analysis. In the wake of COVID-19, teams are contending with new business pressures and intensified demands. In response, teams need to adapt to the impact of new data pools, and the need to consolidate data on a unified platform.
For leaders today, the complexity is significant and so are the opportunities. IT leadership is being asked to deliver significant business outcomes in dynamic times. This presents an opportunity to deliver outcomes and be a leader through change.
Today, teams are contending with a fundamental question: In this ever-changing environment, how do they continue to thrive? How do they enable digital transformation at the speed of business change?
To contend with these new realities, a key framework to consider is BizOps. BizOps is a new framework that drives data-driven decision making. BizOps can help teams establish metrics that span IT operations, SRE, DevOps, and business teams. These correlated metrics can foster the successful move from a project- to product-focused approach, and boost collaboration and trust. Following are a few of the advantages offered by BizOps.
BizOps is important because the collection of data across teams is now paramount to success. Teams need data in determining when and how to bring employees back to work, whether and how to change customer engagement models, and what key things customers want and how that is evolving. BizOps can help with navigating these decisions, and ensuring these considerations intersect with strategic business planning.
BizOps offers significant advancements to what DevOps and agile have brought to organizations over the past decade. Through BizOps, teams incorporate continuous strategy and continuous measurement to traditional DevOps feedback loops. BizOps can help in determining how an investment in DevOps or agile maps to an acceleration of a business strategy, and how business metrics map to IT metrics. Ultimately, this can support the establishment of a common vision across IT and the business.
BizOps can support the creation of new synergies and opportunities, aligning planning cycles of IT with business strategy. BizOps teams can surgically measure the success of what DevOps and agile initiatives have brought to the market, and tie those gains to outcomes the business is interested in. While these concepts are easy to talk about, they’re really hard to do in large organizations.
In addition, BizOps can help with enterprise digital transformation. Digital transformation has been an objective for a long time; now’s time to seize the opportunity. BizOps helps teams pursue transformation more effectively by promoting business alignment, and through establishing business metrics that are clearly defined and mapped to technology metrics.
In the end, BizOps can help businesses establish a competitive advantage that’s driven by speed.
In today’s enterprises, it’s critical that people, processes, and tools all support the collaboration that’s required, not just within IT but across teams and with business stakeholders. It’s especially vital to understand how business stakeholders think about value, and the metrics they deem to be important.
Don’t measure success based on traditional metrics like time and budget. Instead, focus on how your teams deliver incremental value through iterative processes, such as building software that generates expected revenues. Start with the business’ quarterly objectives, then determine how the software being built plays a role in that. This approach represents more than a change in reference, it represents a change in culture.
BizOps also has implications for funding. As teams move from once-a-year funding cycles to a more agile approach, they need to fund products based on business outputs, with new money allocated as needed in order to drive incremental results. Deliverables should be mapped to business products and how they’re supported.
In the following sections, I provide various teams in enterprises with some prescriptive guidance, outlining some practical steps and considerations they can take as they look to capitalize on BizOps.
From a business and product leadership standpoint, it is important to collaborate effectively with IT. This sounds like common sense, but I can’t tell you how many times we speak with business stakeholders who haven’t put enough effort into understanding who they should work with within IT. What are roles these IT representatives can play in defining business metrics?
It’s important to educate the IT organization and the teams they’re working with, focusing on articulating the business metrics that matter. Outline how you view the customer and how the customer defines value. Help IT make that bridge to all the investments they’re making across people, processes, and technologies; and help them focus on business outcomes.
Through BizOps, teams can improve agile planning and development. The key thing is shifting from project to product planning. One key is to measure value that the product should deliver for customers. When talking about business requirements and metrics, it is really important to gain an understanding of value. This requires really understanding who the customer is, and defining how they see value.
Definitions of value can be very different for different people. For example, some people buy cars for performance, others for low cost, others for safety. Understanding these definitions of value is vital. Within this context, we’re starting to see developers thinking more proactively, looking objectively at who’s the customer and why they’re writing the code they are.
BizOps can help strengthen DevOps in a number of areas, including the following:
We were recently advising a DevOps team at a large financial services firm, and they largely were talking about deployment frequency. While it’s great to measure that, we wanted to get them to look at what the business customer thinks. Ultimately, the business customer doesn’t care about deployment frequency. They care about things like cost containment, net promoter scores, time to market, and customer satisfaction. BizOps teams can be really helpful in making these translations across the company.
Agile and DevOps teams should really be thinking about how they can apply automation to functions, and working with BizOps teams to gain real business alignment. In this effort, it’s important to consider various data pools. In a lot of organizations, teams don’t realize that in development there’s tremendous amounts of data that can have an impact, not only on engineering productivity and efficiency, but on customer satisfaction. How fast can you reduce errors? How fast can you deliver more iterations and better features? These are great ways BizOps teams can help clearly articulate metrics, and also dig into where inefficiencies in software release and deployment processes may reside.
Within this area, teams need to be squarely focused on measuring what matters. You can talk about key metrics and KPIs, but it’s really about recognizing and defining who the customer is, and really understanding what they value.
Recently, we were talking with teams at an automobile manufacturer, discussing the transformation of their infrastructure and operations to SRE models. One of things that came up was how good they were at defining metrics. In particular, we asked questions, like, “How do you define what customer you’re serving, and how does that map back to business products you support?” We discussed cultural maturity, and, even more importantly, how they approached defining KPIs and metrics. In these discussions, we stressed that it’s about much more than availability and performance. It’s critical to answer the question of who the ultimate customer is, whether they’re an internal user or an external customer on the supply chain.
Identifying business and technology metrics is really foundational to the success of these teams, and the businesses they support. Take the results you find from using from AIOps and automation, and apply them back to business outcomes that you’re helping to support. Think about SRE practices and cost containment. How can you help employees return to the office safely? Who can you work with to collaborate and drive efficiency across processes?
Tie it back to what’s the business outcome that you want. Reducing events is important, but speeding time to market for new features might improve customer satisfaction or reduce customer churn. These are the things the business cares about.
On top of that, it is important to employ the right analytics models. Today, a lot of companies are applying analytics solutions, such as AIOps, to data pools. Make sure you understand which analytics models are available and choose those that will really work best for your use case.
Across organizations, BizOps has the potential to truly accelerate enterprise digital transformation. In summary, it is important to start with the top-level business outcome, and define the right technical and business metrics that can enable that outcome. Then make sure you have the right people, processes, and tools focused on generating the desired outcome.
I was able to join a number of industry experts and practitioners at the BizOps Virtual Summit event, where I gave an in-depth presentation on how BizOps can accelerate enterprise digital transformation. To learn more, be sure to visit the BizOps Virtual Summit resource center page. At this page, you can access my complete presentation as well as those of a range of other presenters.