Guest contributor, Bola Rotibi from analyst firm Creative Intellect Consulting

Most organizations that I and my analyst team have spoken to over the last few years desire an IT environment where software can be delivered quickly, reliably and with greater stability. They want repeatable predictable delivery processes that can easily and quickly deliver software changes, new requirements or feature or product variations to satisfied happy customers. It is a notion of industrialized software delivery that will help deliver greater competitive advantage on a more continuous basis, the results of which will lead to more customers, an improved customer base and the potential for greater revenue. So, who wouldn’t want this type of environment?

The paradox of IT spend…things haven’t necessarily got better

For the last 5 years almost every business organization or government body has talked about IT as their competitive advantage. The reality is that still too many organizations have not realized the competitive advantage they expected for the amount of money they have spent on IT.  One of the major inhibitors has been the movement of software from development into production. The reality for many established enterprise organizations however, is one of complex hybrid infrastructure environments, and platforms with multiple software factories some of which may be old but still running critical applications. All in all the delivery process is complex and long, often capable of handling one or two changes but delivering to customers that are less than enthusiastic with the outcome.

“Go faster” stripes for some

But there are organizations out there who are demonstrating the ability to deliver software updates and changes continuously underpinned by robust accelerated delivery processes. Who hasn’t marvelled at the way some organizations can deliver updates and new features and change with great efficiency and stability on what many would be consider a continuous basis, to satisfied customers? Ultimately what many organizations want is to match the cadence  for software delivery and application dynamism and innovation as demonstrated by the likes of organizations like Facebook, Apple, Amazon and many of the newer start-up organizations that are emerging and impacting the market.

Business imperative drivers

The reason why an ability to deliver faster and more frequently is so important today is fundamentally down to the drive for competitiveness. The factors that support competitiveness i.e. agility, market reach, innovation and cost advantage are all influenced by what Geoffrey Moore famously defined as “Systems of Engagement” i.e. the means of interaction with and within the business that deliver value. And by value we mean the financial returns from customer engagement and loyalty, employee and supplier productivity and overall business efficiency and agility, all of which are bottom line impacts. Supporting the Systems of Engagement are the “Systems of Records” i.e. the business systems that support key business processes within an organization and manage organizational data such as the ERP, CRM, HR and BI platforms. The “systems of engagements” realization of data held within organizations and outside of organizations underpins an ability to leverage competitiveness.

Technology opportunities

There are technology opportunities that dictate what we can do to the experience delivered by those systems of engagement to help drive competitiveness. We only need look at current App technologies, the greater use of mobile, the effect and impact of touch, location awareness, social and streaming media, to get a sense of the experiences and engagements that can be achieved and the competitive edge that can be delivered. New technology opportunities are also evolving the delivery of the systems of records. Technologies such as Cloud computing now have a role to play in the way systems of records are acquired, maintained and delivering, thereby enabling greater levels of flexibility, elasticity and scalability. Collaboration, social media and virtualization also play their part in improving the way systems of records function and deliver insights. The technology opportunities have enabled a greater focus on “User Centricity” for clients, employees and other groups within the supply chain. In the face of the business drivers and the technology opportunities, is it any wonder that accelerated delivery of innovative software solutions has become the modus operandi of a successful organization in today’s climate? But what are the criteria for improving the software delivery cycle and enabling more frequent releases? I will explore this in my next blog post, stay tuned.

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