Cutting through the hype: what 2016 looks like for technology leaders

Michael Billimoria summarises expert predictions for 2016 and says critical aspects of managing business technology must adapt to a faster world

©iStock.com/agsandrew

©iStock.com/agsandrew

At the beginning of each year, a range of business technology industry pundits offer their predictions for the year to come. You will have seen the more common predictions such as:

  • Enterprise tech will embrace the cloud
  • Security hacks will increase but our defence systems will get smarter
  • Big Data is more about insights, context and speed than the actual data
  • Machine learning will come of age
  • User/customer experience is king
  • The Internet of Things will keep growing exponentially

Now, these predictions are all well and good, but it’s time to consider what they really mean for enterprise IT in Australia – and what technology leaders can take away after all the hype.

1. Organisations using traditional IT delivery will reach a crisis point

Old methods for running IT projects don’t work well in today’s faster-moving technology environment. Getting projects over the line on time (or at all) just isn’t happening often enough, resulting in stalled or compromised initiatives and too great a cost.

As my colleague Ian Rogers pointed out in a recent article, it’s time for a next generation of project management, (and, by the way, that doesn’t simply mean adopting an agile methodology). Rather than continuing with techniques which were fine for the construction and manufacturing industries they were initially designed for, we must accept they have failed to address the inherent speed, scope, and complexity of business technology.

As Ian observes, software isn’t concrete and people aren’t machines. We must become more flexible in the way we deliver technology projects, and start incorporating change management earlier and more thoroughly into the project management process. Flexible, agile, and sociable is the way forward.

2. The second wave of Continuous Delivery will arrive

DevOps has been on the cards for a while, and pioneered by a few, however many organisations hadn’t ‘got it’, because the term doesn’t really explain its power and value. (Let’s face it, the term DevOps kind makes you feel like you should move your Dev and Ops teams together and the problem is solved!)

However there is finally a growing understanding that working smarter is based on making three Fs work together: feedback, flow and faith (or trust). As discussed by my colleague Harold Peterson, in his piece Bring down the wall between Dev and Ops, Puppet Labs found in a study of 5,000 companies that those with a DevOps function deploy 30 times more frequently and have 200-times shorter lead times. These aren’t just silly statistics; they represent IT responding to despondent business professionals in a way which is actually better meeting their expectations.

Not all businesses need to be like Amazon, which deploys software 23,000 times a day, but the actual time to deploy is not the point; it’s much about helping the business win. We have now got some excellent and proven tools and techniques for implementing a streamlined DevOps operation. Greater numbers of enterprises are embracing automation and orchestration to improve flow. DevOps is becoming part of a more holistic delivery environment that also involves techniques from Lean Change (see prediction #4 below) and the Scaled Agile Framework.

3. We’ll experience compounding supplier and shadow IT problems

Last year in SIAM: Transforming service delivery. The ‘new black’ for multi-sourcing, I wrote about the promise of Service Integration and Management (SIAM) for effectively managing multisourcing of IT.

While it’s gaining more traction overseas, SIAM has so far proven too overwhelming for most Australian enterprises. We’re observing that few IT organisations succeed in explaining its benefits to the business; it’s new, so it’s tough to find solid data to justify changing the entire IT operating model to accommodate it. Meanwhile, many ITOs are inundated by a flood of 40 or more separate service providers, when all the business really wants is servers and storage provisioned, rather than a seemingly costly implementation of an extension to ITSM.

There’s serious value in adopting a SIAM approach to sourcing management and, while most organisations won’t jump on board this year, those that do will be gaining a serious competitive advantage in 2017/18.

Further to this, the problem of shadow IT (AKA credit card IT) continues to grow apace – with the business continuing to ‘do its own thing’ without recourse to the ITO and inevitably creating more management and service delivery conflict. It’s a matter of trust or faith. The world of technology is absolutely no longer the domain of the technology department, ; it hasn’t been for some time. Only when the ITO can deliver feedback and flow will the business have faith.

4. Organisational change will begin to catch up in the IT world

Organisational change management can no longer be managed directly by just the change management experts. With the speed-to-market now required, it’s simply not possible to get people ready in time if change is a separate process.

Lean Change is one of the new techniques that allow those affected by change to take control of their own destiny and make change work. As Paul Jenkinson points out in Lean Change: A unique approach to managing change at speed, successful change management is hard enough in static environments, let alone in this age of digital revolution.

While there are a myriad of benefits to adopting Lean Change techniques, the key differentiator is that those affected by the change are able to participate openly and manage their own change journey. This is smart thinking, as organisational change affects us all differently so every experience is unique.

5. The age of closed door security is over

In 2016 it will become increasingly apparent that simply closing the door and barring the windows won’t do. In fact, this approach has become a hinderer rather than an enabler of doing business.

In his recent article, Man the barricades… what barricades?, Clem Colman contrasts today’s enterprise with a medieval castle. It’s no longer possible to keep everything within walls, and the people and assets you need to protect have long flown. New security technology will be successful when it has been built into every component: embedded within every device and every software application.

There’s also an even greater need educate every employee on security and risk reduction. This is, protecting your organisation from inside-out as opposed to outside-in. Operating beyond the fortress, frequently on their own devices, they must become much savvier about the risks of using technology to play their own part in your enterprise security. Welcome to the new world of cyber-resilience.

What does it all mean? It’s about speed

If there’s a common thread in these trends, it’s that the world of technology keeps accelerating and technology professionals using ‘traditional’ techniques will never catch up. In a digital world, there’s a strong link between the ways in which speed is impacting on the way we manage IT projects, change, service delivery, our suppliers and security, this calls for agility across every aspect of technology delivery.

At CSC I’m proud that the areas mentioned above are all areas we’re heavily investing in, and I’m interested in hearing whether these predictions are becoming a reality in your own organisation, and how you’re coping with them. Feel free to get in touch!

About the Author

Michael Billimoria is a technology thought leader and is currently CTO CSC Consulting. He was previously the National Practice Lead for IT Service Management. 

He has a proven record of successfully delivering technology projects realising tangible business benefits in complex environments.