Thomas J. Watson once said "Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It's quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn't at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that's where you will find success."
CIOs and their management teams across Application Development and IT Operations and Infrastructure are in a very enviable position. They are increasingly able to “fail”, learn and incorporate the learnings from their mistakes, and do so with limited repercussions.
The best companies such as Amazon, Google, Target, NetFlix, and Etsy are using this principle, and reaping its benefits. In fact, teams must fail to deliver business leadership. They can shape the future of their company’s business models and products by improving IT’s ability to move faster, and by increasing the quality of their products and customer engagement models. In the past, these objectives were often left for Business Unit product and management teams to address and solve. However, with the rate and scope of change at an all-time high across social media outlets, competitive environments, geo-political scenarios, and technology business models and tools innovation, the status quo and lack of “failure” is no longer good enough.
So, what should IT executives do to increase their ‘failure” rates and the speed and quality of product delivery and customer experiences? IDC suggests acting on the following advice:
- IT executives should use emerging approaches such as DevOps and modern application development practices to increase the speed and quality of product development and delivery.
- Define what failure is, and assure staff that failure is just a step-in learning what will work, and is not a job ending situation.
- Understand that any existing architecture is a critical component of a DevOps strategy; some architectures are better than others in delivering business outcomes; pick the best fit model.
- Security innovation can be a large value proposition for DevOps practices; enabling the more secure development and delivery of products and application services.
- Use automation across as many business and technology processes as possible to reduce costs, increase security, and improve scale
- Rationalize existing application development, testing, and application performance tools to improve integration across teams, and drive automation cross fragmented processes.
- Focus on the customer, define who the customer is, what their experience is, and how it can be improved to drive tighter engagement and an improved experience.
- Assure the IT organization that failure is an option, and that not trying something new is not acceptable. Show examples of how staff gained from their persistence and overcame obstacles to drive business outcomes.
- Analyze projects such as Continuous Delivery, automated testing, and application release as areas to invest and apply DevOps teams and practices.
IT executives are seeing the evolution of the application development discipline follow a similar path that the IT Infrastructure and Operations team completed during the late 90s and 2000s as they attempt to automate processes, and use standard practices to increase ROI, bring together fragmented teams and development processes, and provide measurable business outcomes. The use of business metrics is being used to measure progress and gauge success, and communicate via executive DevOps dashboards. As DevOps continues to take hold in the enterprise, so too will the acceptance of “failure” as a learning experience.
Many of these topics will be discussed in the IDC web conference, Application Development: Best Practices to Sustain Competitive Advantage on Thursday, April 20th. If you're interested, please register here. I hope to see you there!