Agility is no longer a matter of Methodology Choice. It is a business imperative. The very nature of Agility is being adaptive to the rapidly emerging changes to the business enterprise. Having the ability to anticipate the challenges and preparing the enterprise for execution using the available resources optimally is the function of agility. It was popularly misunderstood in a software development world as a means of speeding up development where the Information Technology (IT) served the business. We need software development but then it needs to be relevant. When automobiles were first produced Ford could afford to make the declaration that the world deserved nothing better than black cars rolling out of their factories. From that concept of massification we have come a long way when Customers & Consumers get to decide which brand is worth their money. And that choice has got to a lot more than color of the automobile. This is where Engineering pitched in at the conventional factory which was nothing more than an assembly line. In technology development too that time has come when engineering brings relevance to development in businesses comprising of three forms of technology that mutually serve each other; Digital, Business / Industrial, and Information Technology.
DevOps is to Software development what World Class operations was to the advancements in Manufacturing. In essence both have the same purpose of creating efficiencies in operations that deliver optimal Customer Engagement & Experience along the five dimensions of Quality, Cost, Delivery, Service and Flexibility. Both have been abused buzzwords and used many tools / techniques and a lot of litany to find meaning to their practice. It should be clear though that the operating model includes Structure, Culture, Processes and Practices that create Customer Value thru business offerings in the four interoperable dimensions of Platform, Product, Process, and / or Project (Service) depending on what the Customer Demands and who they are relative to the Ecosystem. It is important to learn from manufacturing that the reengineering of the Supply Chain is what improved the ability to develop World Class Operations. Technology is no different.
Agility and DevOps are the Yin and the Yang of the modern day digital enterprise. The former prepares the business for the challenges of the Invention to Innovation (Mind 2 Market) while the latter catalyzes the operation for the Innovation to Improvisation Cycle (Time 2 Market); concurrently and continuously churning the wheels that bring about Cycles of Transformation & Growth.
The Digital Factory
We are using the industrial analogy of factory here because the current period in life has been dubbed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Manufacturing in its third phase of the industrial revolution adapted globalization of factories and Supply Chains with a lot more emphasis on design and engineering. Technology needs to extend this further to a higher level of maturity in other industry sectors during the digital revolution. The Internet, Cloud, Mobility & Communications have made the 'Glocalization' much more easier for different core strengths to combine, collaborate and / or integrate to offer a more composite solution to Customers / Consumers in almost every walk of life.
The success of the digital economy players lies in being able to leverage the idea of Glocalization by being Open and Integrable in an ecosystem conjuring solutions to enrich life on this planet.
The following illustration depicts the interweaving of Agility with DevOps. There are four Phases to Agility (Conceptualization, Engineering, Industrialization and Commercialization) and multiple stages to DevOps in each of the phases with distinctive Activities and Tasks that inter-operate to deliver both Mind 2 Market (M2M) and Time 2 Market (T2M) advantages for a business enterprise as the following illustration demonstrates:
There is no business on the face of this earth that would not claim that they are Customer Focused. In an era there were multiple barriers between the Producer and the Consumer the pretense of focus was excusable. But with those barriers being dropped, the Customer and the Consumer need to be involved in the shaping of the Engagement & Experience right from the beginning when an offering is being conceptualized .
The end product of Conceptualization are models that are necessary to evaluate the different ways in which a business offering can participate in the life of the customers. This is where Design Thinking widens the focus from a Product or a Offering being sold as opposed to participating in the Life of a Customer. One needs no further evidence than the success of reality TV globally. That shift in focus is the new relevance of the Customer's Journey starting at Conceptualization for any business in any vertical anywhere in the world. Containerization should not be a mere technology tool. It needs to have a basis and relevance to business.
Metamodels of the business architecture has several key components to it that help enterprises prepare to meet emerging challenges with minimal dysfunction to the status quo. The above illustration demonstrates the critical components and connections that an enterprise needs to focus on at the outset to become innovative in driving solutions to the marketplace.
Taking the abstract models from the Conceptualization shop, the Engineering shop can configure building blocks of solutions as the following illustration depicts.
Putting a solution building block together needs a very precise understanding of a roadmap that the conceptualization phase can provide. Therein lies the challenge of driving purposeful Transformation and Innovation; one that includes Cultural, Process, Technology and Infrastructure that is mutually inclusive. Most of the time these terms are loosely used and it takes enormous amounts of time for enterprises and ecosystems to adapt to realize the true benefits of the advancements of Science & Technology. Take the case of the healthcare industry where diagnostic technologies produce digital outputs. However to integrate them with the digital data of the Individual is an onerous process that is in its infancy. The same applies to drone technology which was first seen as just a delivery vehicle and now it's delivery is being extended into many areas including agriculture and data collection.
Early adaptation and integrated solutions that an Engineering Approach brings not only advances the quality of life but also saves tremendous amounts of capital (financial, intellectual and human) that can be usefully deployed to the multivarious challenges of societies that is always starved for them.
One size fits all is a cliche that has got to be eliminated from the institutional memory of every society in any part of the planet. This is so because of the flourishing of democracy and the proliferation of information and knowledge via the internet. Given the opportunity that Information and Intelligence can be available in real-time the process of educating Customers and Consumers on what is best in their interests needs to be looked at with greater care. This is where the Customer Focus takes a sharper view with Profiling, Personalization and Preferentiation that contextualizes content and offerings to an environment diverse and convergent at the same time on different points of data.
Contact Management can be converted into Service Management that is unified across the ecosystem. From engineering containers the development can disassemble and reassemble components for niche containers to be delivered with a greater level of customer focus in the commercial environment.
The true test of innovation is in the commercialization of solutions; not once but repeatedly that creates a higher perception of Value (Branding, Positioning and Fulfilling of Aspirations).
Involving and immersing Customers from the Conceptualization stage makes for a Risk Assured Returns in the marketplace not only from a revenue standpoint but also reducing the number of reworks and thereby contributing to cost savings that can otherwise be passed on to the customers as a reward for their loyalty. The cost of customer acquisition and the Sales, General Expenses and Administration (SG&A) costs coming down would be a true indicator that the enterprise is reaping rich rewards of innovation. This proximity to customer (data) assures that what is learnt from not just their buying but also life patterns helps shape the next cycle of Conceptualization to Commercialization.
Digital Maturity demands that enterprises connect their Business Agility (Engagement & Experience) with Operations (DevOps) that builds Platforms, Products, Processes and / or Services to leverage the promise of technology and democratization of systems globally. It is not a choice but rather an inevitability that the leaders will do well to embrace and enable at the earliest. Those that still want to play the pretense game will get shown up pretty quickly. The argument often is to be seen at forums such as WEF and pretending enterprises are ahead of the curve. But reality should sink in soon with grave issues of Poverty, Sustainability, Terrorist Activity and Depravity are all sucking life into a faster propulsion towards degeneration and / or destruction of life itself. Nations and Enterprises need capable leaders and people with integrity charting them towards progress and growth.