Around the globe, companies are rushing to infuse technology into every aspect of their businesses. And it’s for a good reason. This digital transformation is critical to corporate survival. Today’s hyper-competitive, rapidly evolving economy demands bigger and better apps and services that deliver operational efficiencies and increasing customer value.
The urgency to modernize shows in market projections. The $521.5 billion digital transformation industry is expected to more than double in the next four years.
Although most enterprises now understand digital transformation as a modern-day business imperative, few are able to execute a successful digital transformation initiative. In fact, 84% of companies fall short of realizing optimal results.
These dismal statistics leave many tech leaders wondering what the secret is to digital transformation success.
My advice: invest in a DevOps (development and operations) culture first. Then, focus on the supporting tools.
How DevOps Facilitates Digital Transformation
In the quest for digital transformation, businesses typically put too much focus on a tool overhaul. Effective technology is certainly important, but I urge IT leaders first to examine the teams behind the tools. After all, changing all of a business’s products and processes requires a significant mindset shift. And that mindset requires the kind of innovation and agility that’s only unlocked with a modern DevOps culture.
To understand why DevOps is critical to digital transformation, let’s go back in time. As you may know, all IT functions traditionally split responsibilities between software developers and IT operations teams. While the developers would write and test code, the operations team would deploy the final product. And this worked fairly well until the digital economy accelerated and required constant innovation.
Now our digital economy moves far too quickly for the sluggishness caused by uncommunicative organizational silos and multiple software handoffs. There’s a human element to it too. If there are too many cooks in the kitchen, and no one feels accountable for the finished product, and quality can suffer.
Perhaps my colleague explained the ownership issue best: “Giving a developer restricted access to production is like going bowling with the bumper lanes up. Taking a kid bowling with those bumpers up, they’re not going to care when and where they throw the bowling ball. They’re just going to let it go left and right, and eventually, the ball will get to the bowling pins. However, take off the bumpers, and they’re going to be a lot more intentional about how they’re delivering the bowling ball.”
Frustrated by all of the limitations presented by siloed development and operations teams, a few IT visionaries combined the disciplines into one. DevOps melds the philosophies, tools and practices historically used by development and operations teams to expedite the delivery of software products. And these software products accelerate digital transformation.
If you practice DevOps, then you’re probably familiar with the guiding principles of DevOps, set out in the “The Three Ways” blog. According to the revered blog, DevOps principles include:
- Flow, which focuses on overall system performance over one specific part of performance
- Feedback, which allows continual improvement and corrections
- Continual Experimentation, which cultivates a culture of risk-taking, learning and innovation
These core principles are critical to both the organizational change and tactical changes required for digital transformation.
A strong “we” culture supports these principles. Within DevOps teams, everyone works together toward a common goal. Consequently, team members communicate free of organizational barriers and extinguish cross-functional tensions. Destroying these silos gives rise to collaboration, which leads to constant innovation.
Constant innovation is also possible through automation. DevOps teams see automation as a means to advancing high-value initiatives instead of spending their days on toil. They lean into automating as many manual interventions as possible, using their more human skills to experiment and innovate.
How AIOps Tools Support Digital Transformation
With the right people and culture in place, IT leaders can adopt tools that solve real business problems. And here’s a major one of them. The DevOps world strives for rapid software deployments that enhance digital transformation efforts. However, these changes to the production environment can cause potentially disruptive incidents. While the chances for these incidents increase, our society’s patience for downtime is decreasing. In other words, DevOps teams must deliver innovations while keeping these innovations continuously available.
Advanced artificial intelligence for IT Operations (AIOps) tools ease the conflicting demand for innovation and continuous availability. An AIOps platform constantly ingests and analyzes data, looking for anomalies. If the platform spots an anomalous event that points to a potential incident, its automated workflow immediately notifies those responsible and provides them with context to the problem via their preferred notification channel. Obviously, this fulfills the feedback requirement. However, by using fuzzy AI and machine learning techniques, the platform becomes more adaptable and robust, requiring less maintenance. The result is less time on maintenance, and more time spent innovating, thus fulfilling the third way of continual experimentation.
Of course, even a minor digital incident or outage can carry heavy consequences in the age of digital transformation. When every minute of downtime can cost $5,600, it’s not enough to just fix uptime-affecting incidents as they surface. That’s why next-generation AIOps tools help DevOps teams catch incidents before they impact users. These tools ingest data from across the IT stack — combining metrics, traces, logs and events — to detect potentially disruptive anomalies early in the incident lifecycle. DevOps practitioners can fix incidents before they enter live environments, saving time and money that can be invested back into the innovation that drives digital transformation.
Modern companies can’t afford to ignore digital transformation. But they also can’t afford to waste capital on a suboptimal outcome. Businesses, especially those struggling to realize digital transformation efforts, should cultivate a DevOps culture, and the supporting AIOps tools, to benefit from the enormous promise of digital transformation.