Culture / DevOps / Sponsored / Contributed

How Digital Business Analytics Can Jumpstart DevOps to Become BizDevOps

16 Nov 2019 6:00am, by

Dynatrace sponsored this post.

Andreas Grabner
Andreas is a DevOps Activist at Dynatrace. He has over 20 years of experience as a software developer, tester and architect, and is an advocate for high-performing cloud operations. As a champion of DevOps initiatives, Andreas is dedicated to helping developers, testers and operations teams become more efficient in their jobs with Dynatrace’s software intelligence platform.

Everyone working at a digital business organization — regardless of their team, department or title — should be driven to ensure that their business is running at its peak, in order to achieve better user experiences, high user satisfaction, optimized processes and reduced resource footprints. Ultimately, the end result is to achieve constantly improving business outcomes — such as increased revenue, reduced costs or automated processes for more efficient workflows.

That’s the ideal scenario. But in the real world, we know that this isn’t always the case. That’s the reason DevOps exists in the first place: to bridge the gap between what should be happening and what actually is happening, by sharing more of the responsibility for the business itself between the developers and operations teams. DevOps brings the Dev side of the organization closer to the Ops side so that they can see the real impact of their work, and naturally become more invested in how their work is both affecting the business and driving value.

However, whether that mission succeeds or fails entirely depends on what tools and data are actually available to DevOps. This is why providing a company’s digital business analytics for DevOps is absolutely critical for modern digital enterprises to continue growing — and for DevOps to evolve into a BizDevOps culture.

Digital Business Analytics in Action

What do I mean by digital business analytics? Consider this as a use case:

The development team deploys a new feature and only releases it to a specific geographical region that was selected as a good test candidate out of its entire target market. Live real-user monitoring data gives them direct feedback from their end-users, showing them how this new feature is having a positive impact on outcomes like the number of user interactions or revenue. That same direct feedback coupled with monitoring data from the underlying infrastructure also tells them that, while user adoption looks great, the cloud infrastructure costs for running this new feature is significantly higher than anticipated due to inefficient code.

Based on that feedback, the developers can then turn around and optimize that code for both business and cost. Once this is achieved, they can roll out the feature to the rest of the global user base — thus ensuring the same great positive reception from the full target audience, while cutting down on those infrastructure costs in the process.

This explains how digital organizations elevate their DevOps practices to the next level. This approach helps to connect the dots on how end-user feedback can have a direct positive impact on the application and feature teams. Ultimately, they can make better continuous decisions based on actual business data — so long as that data is available to them.

What Digital Business Metrics Mean for DevOps

Having access to these metrics — including data on user satisfaction, feature adoption, user adoption and total business impact — empowers DevOps to more accurately prioritize their tasks. Which teams in the organization need a higher level of deployment and automation so that they can function more efficiently? Which applications, services and platforms need to be optimized to reduce costs, improve IT performance and produce higher business value? And which of these should be put onto cheaper hardware, or decommissioned altogether, because they’re no longer important to driving business success?

These are all questions that DevOps can’t answer if they don’t have the numbers about how their work is having an effect on anything. Access to digital business analytics empowers DevOps to more accurately re-prioritize their tasks in terms of what drives value and what doesn’t. If you don’t know what kind of impact you’re having by, say, automating delivery pipelines or investing in more resilient systems, then how do you know whether those investments are supporting your top business goals and actually paying off?

Digital business analytics give DevOps a new level of visibility to properly determine what is and isn’t helping the business at large, so they can make IT management decisions accordingly.

Overcoming DevOps Roadblocks

DevOps is predicated on helping to share responsibility for the business across previously siloed teams, thus making application owners feel more accountable for driving new business value. The availability of digital business metrics takes that mission to its next level by providing a new and immediate avenue for DevOps teams to get feedback.

Application teams in a traditional DevOps structure are meant to get feedback on how well a new feature or service is accepted by end-users and generating ROI for the business. But, ironically, this has also often proven to be a roadblock for DevOps, as that feedback doesn’t always come. And once feedback is received, it may be months, even years, after the work has been finished, at which point it’s little help to anyone.

But access to digital business metrics in real-time changes that for DevOps. Instead of waiting weeks, months or longer for business feedback, application teams get it on an immediate and continuous basis. These automated continuous feedback loops not only make for better products and services. They also enable application teams to naturally feel more responsible for their work and, upon receiving real-time positive feedback, feel more passionate about it, too. Who doesn’t feel more enthused about the work they’re doing when they get immediate feedback about how they did a great job and it was well-received by its target audience?

Of course, we can’t expect every single new release to go over like that with end-users, but here again, these continuous, immediate feedback loops are critical. If the metrics show there has been any kind of negative impact on the business, application teams can respond to them much faster than before to fix the things that need fixing and improve business outcomes quickly.

Evolving DevOps into a BizDevOps ‘Continuous Experimentation Culture’

As DevOps teams begin to bake in digital business analytics as part of their automated delivery and operations platforms, they will feel a deeper connection to the business, more responsibility for how their actions benefit that business and altogether have a positive impact on how individual application teams view their roles and take greater pride in their work as a result. In other words, these metrics will help evolve DevOps into BizDevOps.

But these are just the near-term benefits. Over the long run, I think access to digital business analytics will have an even more profound effect on application teams. Making those metrics available will empower developers to transition to a point where the bigger feature and service releases they typically put out get broken up into smaller value add-ons, which can be released to end-users even faster.

I think of this as a “continuous experimentation culture,” where application owners are incentivized to experiment with creating quick value add-ons, that are built and released to end-users at a higher frequency. With immediate business feedback loops, these application owners would have quicker insights into how their releases are accepted (or not) by end-users, making adjustments where necessary at a rapid pace — or, if they can see that optimizing the add-ons don’t make sense, then they know not to waste time and resources on it in the first place.

Altogether, digital business analytics help create a BizDevOps culture with incentives for innovation and experimentation, giving teams new leeway in how they build releases and providing faster-than-ever feedback for how to tailor them to both end-users and overall business goals.

Feature image via Pixabay.

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