Making the case for DevOps in the boardroom: Are you ready?

Technology has tipped the balance in favour of the customer and to be successful in this new digital world we all need to rethink the traditional IT processes.

Gone are the days when a ‘good enough’ approach to digital will keep your organisation competitive. Your customers and partners demand savvy, delightful digital experiences at any time, from any device. 

To help you benchmark where your organisation stands today in delivering such compelling experiences, Axway recently partnered with industry analyst firm Ovum to conduct a global survey on the modernisation of B2B integration. 

Consisting of responses from 450 senior IT decision makers, the primary research study outlines how organisations are preparing to meet the needs of today’s digital economy and provides a global glimpse into the priorities and adoption trends for B2B integration. 

Overall, today’s IT leaders and DevOps professionals in particular indicated two primary concerns surrounding their current enterprise B2B strategy:

  • More than half of the responding enterprises have failed to comply with customer-driven service level agreements (SLAs), face non-compliance with data security regulations and are worried about data integration issues.
  • Nearly a third of the respondents indicated that they have not explored digital business initiatives or the role of APIs in digital transformation.

While these findings are concerning on their own, they also imply a broader, much more worrisome business impact. Too many organisations are not addressing key areas of critical business risk appropriately, nor are they approaching organisational growth in a way that effectively meets, let alone exceeds, the expectation of their various constituents.

Below are some key guidelines to help the DevOps team address these two primary challenges.

Speak truth to power

Despite skyrocketing customer expectation for increasingly delightful, digital experiences, 36 per cent of businesses surveyed reported no plans to invest in the use of APIs. This suggests that either the business has not prioritised digital initiatives or their IT team is struggling to make a case at the board level to secure the necessary funding. Neither scenario is a good place to be. If you find your organisation in this situation, here are some tips to consider:  

First, it’s essential to make your case in board level language rather than tech speak. Management doesn’t care about speeds and feeds, but they do understand and care about business consequences.  Here are two crucial statements your team can use to get the C-suite’s attention and required financial backing: 

  • Slow IT threatens the survival of the business. Failure to invest in IT will slow down business innovation and the ability to launch the new digital services customers demand. Damaging the customer experience in such a way will eventually result in strain to the brand and loss of revenue which are preventable with an API-first DevOps strategy in place.
  • Security breach – or compliance failure – can result in executive prosecutions. Security and/or compliance failures can result in civil and even criminal liability. Executives are not always as aware of that fact as they should be, nor do they always fully comprehend the devastating damage such an event can have on company reputation. Work closely with the Chief Compliance Officer (or Chief Legal Officer) to help clearly spell out plausible risk scenarios to the CEO, CFO and the broader C-Suite. Explain why having up-to-date technology fit for purpose is critical to ensure the necessary levels of compliance and security.

Don’t fly blind: Integrate smarter and faster

More than 50 per cent of respondents noted a lack of end-to-end visibility, non-compliance with data security regulations and limited integration with backend systems as being potential issues. 57 per cent are also relying on B2B integration gateways that are more than five years old and often lack any form of API management capabilities. This can create huge challenges when building and integrating digital and cloud services. 

Unfortunately, the speed of change isn’t slowing down. Quite the opposite – it’s increasing. IT needs to ensure it has a go-forward solution for this issue and APIs are shown to efficiently deliver the visibility and integration needed for a high-performance, compliant organisation.  

Digital transformation via APIs requires a wholesale reevaluation of process, people and product – so it’s best to ask the hard questions now, upfront. Examples include:

  • What needs to change at the IT level to enable the broader digital strategy? Which services and products need to be digitally re-engineered or integrated differently?
  • Does my technology platform support all current compliance requirements and give me the flexibility to meet shifting demands?
  • Does my team use a true “cradle to grave” lifecycle approach to API creation and management?
  • Is my team structured properly to allow a true DevOps model, where continuous updates in parallel are the norm and not the exception?

Always think ahead

Be assertive and implement smart changes on your terms now so that your DevOps team is future proofed for the digital age. Here are three recommendations on how you should approach digital business transformation: 

  • Personalise your plan: There isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Instead, you need to carefully evaluate how DevOps can support your company’s overall IT objectives and assess how you need to approach the goals of individual releases.
  • Take a holistic approach: Don’t think of DevOps as just a list of sequential process steps and activities. Instead, look at how you can optimise the overall process to eliminate overlapping tools and inefficiencies and maximise impact.
  • Think long term: Develop your strategy and process to enable continuous delivery as this will give you the flexibility and agility needed to meet constantly shifting customer demands in the future.

Digital transformation might seem daunting at first, but this “rethink” is essential for meeting  – and ultimately exceeding – rising customer and partner expectations.

Technology has tipped the balance in favour of the customer and to be successful in this new digital world we all need to rethink the traditional IT processes. And while there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach as different organisations are at different stages of their own journey, implementing smart changes now will make a huge difference to the long-term success of your business.

Jeanine Banks, Executive Vice President, Global Products and Solutions, Axway

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

As Executive Vice President, Jeanine is leading Axway’s innovation, growth, and marketing strategy. She is responsible for determining the development and go-to-market of Axway’s products and solutions. Jeanine joined Axway in 2015 to lead Axway’s portfolio strategy, digital transformation, solution development, life cycle management and global marketing.