Focus on Outcomes to Deliver Effective Technology Change
This article is Part 2 in a series about simplified change. Read Part 1 here.
What makes an effective IT portfolio? Maybe it’s how independent your business users are with their solutions or your customers’ engagement with eCommerce.
Or perhaps how prepared your organization is to leverage next-generation technology.
Striking a balance across this multitude of factors can be challenging, and the solution lies in having an effective vision that aligns all your technology value streams.
Understanding how your internal and external customers and thought leadership come together in a common view is critical for better go to market and building the business of tomorrow.
Focusing on Outcomes First
Yes, yes, yes. This is the ongoing response from companies and boards to adding more IT-driven initiatives to their organizations. Agreeing to these initiatives is one thing, but implementing them is another.
New IT initiatives should simplify changes within a company’s technology ecosystem and advance system upgrades, applications and methodology critical to success. Quality, security and performance must align with the company goals to support faster and more confident delivery of these initiatives.
Within this new digital era, which corporate technology strategies will effectively contribute to a company’s market growth through alignment and value? Is it digital transformation, emerging technology, competitive agility, cloud migration or something completely different? It’s hard to say what the correct answer is, but at the heart of all these initiatives, there are three outcomes to accomplish:
- Drive competitive advantage.
- Increase business effectiveness.
- Reimagine IT operations.
These three outcomes make up the outer edges of the triangle of simplified change. The technology landscape is growing ever more complex, and by aligning with these specific outcomes, organizations can drive better execution from executives to front-line workers. By focusing on an outcome, companies are able to de-risk strategies, initiatives and decisions while driving toward the go-live.
Driving Competitive Advantage with First-To-Market Quality
Companies that bring solutions to the market first, whether it’s products, services, applications or experiences — anything that addresses the needs identified by end users — can bring about a significant advantage.
The benefits of being first to the market are the ability to establish strong brand recognition, customer loyalty and economies at scale. However, to fully capitalize on the competitive advantage, companies must continue to drive innovation around the solution.
Once a solution is publicly available, it is easier for competitors to reverse engineer the idea while benefiting from reduced costs and the addition of incremental improvements. Therefore, the strategy becomes not about a single release, but rather the preparation to immerse an idea in rapid feedback and response.
Clunky solutions that end users don’t enjoy are likely to be quickly displaced. The quality of the solution is directly related to the agility and response time based on market feedback. Innovation stalls when development work on production defects exceeds the effort on new features. This opens the door for competitors to grab market share.
Remember Friendster? It was the first social network solution to market and eventually lost its status to Myspace and Facebook. This was likely due to the failure of Friendster’s software from a performance perspective. Pages loaded slowly, which led to a poor user experience. Despite having the brightest minds in Silicon Valley, the issue took months to fix, and at that point its brand reputation was already set.
Friendster was later sold and is currently ranked 14th when compared to similar sites, according to The New York Times. While Friendster might be an extreme example of losing a competitive advantage, the impact of software quality regularly reduces market alignment and value for companies.
Increasing Business Effectiveness by Reducing Friction
Employees are not only the best investment for a company, but also its most strategic opportunity. Your team’s ability to execute against an objective and expertly maneuver it through tailored business processes is what allows organizations to better service customers and reduce operating costs.
When the internal applications employees use help to improve efficiencies and organize processes between departments and users, this improves the company’s productivity, enhances customer experience and increases employee satisfaction by reducing the friction to get the job done.
The ability to engage and meet businesses needs relies on infrastructure and system features that will scale with a company’s growth. Gauging the application life cycle for inefficiencies and security threats is at the heart of supporting the business. Companies that excel at the relationship between the technical requirements and the business processes can expect to see a reduced risk in the deployment of new or upgraded solutions.
There must be a trust factor in IT to deliver quality incremental change that improves resilience to outages due to security threats, hardware failure and process defects. With added features and functionality, the company can take advantage of newer market capabilities and differentiate themselves from competitors.
The failure to fully validate new software releases can have a catastrophic effect on a company. For example, the 2018 software release for TBS Bank failed due to the inability to repeat the significant manual testing with each iteration of the bank’s internal release.
The delivery timelines and total invested eventually pushed the project into the market, despite not addressing all open defects. The program was supposed to improve the bank’s overall operating capabilities but ended up crippling its banking services and setting the company back significantly for months.
Reimagining IT Operations for a Successful Future
Nearly 60 years ago, Intel’s co-founder observed that the capacity of computers would likely double every two years. This is one example of how we have barely scratched the surface of technology from a software perspective.
Companies are expanding their offerings into a purely digital world and reducing dependencies on analog activities. The application of machine learning, Internet of Things, augmented reality and business analytics are emerging in the market and playing a major factor in driving company decision-making and future initiatives.
Enabling future capabilities depends on the way we manage our current ecosystem. The need to digitize information and expose data between systems is paramount to delivering next-generation solutions. Mass consolidation of data allows real-time decisions to be made based on system conditions.
But the utmost quality must be upheld with all decision-making. Once software is given its own transaction power, the impact of defects can be catastrophic.
The response rate of machines compared to humans is 93,000 trillion operations per second. Where a human might analyze a decision over the course of 10 minutes, a machine can make 1 million decisions in the same amount of time. You would think this would enable a high level of quality business transactions and engagement, but when making an incorrect decision, it could cost millions before the root cause is identified.
Having an organizational approach to validate change and a culture geared toward quality is the only way to enable the next phase of business ventures.
The Bottom Line
To achieve desired goals, focus on the three outcomes at the core of your strategy: driving competitive advantage, growing business effectiveness and reimagining IT operations.
The root of success is to de-risk the strategy through quality, performance and security. Without visibility into the source of risk, no production delivery can expect to succeed. Enabling these aspects of development is the first step to simplified change and powering positive outcomes on all sides of the technology triangle.