In his opening remarks to the Las Vegas iteration of DevOps Enterprise Summit 2018, Gene Kim set the tone for Day One by providing an alternative definition of DevOps via Jonathan Smart (formerly of Barclays): “Better Value Faster, Safer, Happier.” At the London show in June, Jonathan expanded on that by extolling the pressing need to go beyond Agile and DevOps to think more end-to-end about how we build products.
Four months later, amid the glowing neon lights of Sin City, that key message has evolved and intensified. Traditional organizations are moving away from a project approach towards a product-centric model, and focusing on the flow of work and business value across their value streams. That sentiment was echoed across the show floor and the stage as the DevOps and wider IT community considered how to take DevOps and enterprise software delivery to the next level. How do they transform their business in the Age of Digital Disruption? How does IT deliver more value to the business?
In a morning session, Brian Clark from CSG International said “IT can’t be separate from the business. You have to think in product value streams, not projects. Project-based work can result in poorly engineered solutions”. A key part, explained his fellow speaker Scott Prugh, was making work visible. “Work wasn’t visible to the business apart from the people doing the heavy lifting in the background.” The company proceeded to a show an array of fascinating initiatives that are changing that dynamic, and the way IT and the business work together.
The burgeoning Project To Product movement was omnipresent in many sessions, and while most speakers recognized the challenge at hand, there was palpable excitement regarding its role in propelling digital transformations forward to hit the digital jackpot. Jeffrey Snover, Technical Fellow and Chief Architect for Azure Storage & Cloud Edge at Microsoft, was energized, “During periods of disruptions, there are periods of opportunity.” There was a sense the audience was on the same page. When asked if they believe in digital transformation, most of the auditorium raised their hand. Jeffrey smiled. “It’s the largest transition that we’re going to see in our lifetime.”
How does one take advantage of this opportunity? Gene Kim was bullish. “By taking risks, but safer and more predictable for better outcomes.” Being bold is something that Courtney Kissler, VP of Nike’s Digital Platform Engineering, knows all about. After playing Nike’s highly publicized “Dream Crazy” video, Courtney shared one of her own crazy dreams, “Legacy systems kill competitive advantage. When I came to Nike, my dream was to kill a legacy system!” True to the principles of DevOps, she was able realize her dream by working with the software teams to create a business strategy to help the iconic sports brand to scale their digital operations. “And killing legacy doesn’t have to be boring. It can be fun – we even held an Irish wake!”
Mark Schwartz, Enterprise Strategist at Amazon Web Services and author of A Seat At The Table, shared his thoughts. In considering the divide between the business and IT, he stressed that you can’t respond quickly to the market if you have a long decision time between request and delivery. “It doesn’t matter if DevOps has accelerated development,” he pointed out. “You need to accelerate the entire lead time from concept to cash.” That begins and ends, he explains through his experience with AWS, with the customer, where “90-95 percent of work is drawn by the customers. That means product teams have to work with the customer to produce the right software.” He concluded, “The old project way of thinking ties the hands of your innovative people.”
Kevin Fisher, Associate VP of Program and Application Services of Nationwide, also encouraged the audience to think in products and outside of development. In the session “Project to Product: Practical Realities of at Large Scale Enterprises” with Nicole Bryan, Tasktop’s VP of Product Development, he asked the room how much time did they think that his development teams spent with fingers on the keyboard building products. Someone guessed 30 percent. “I wish!”, responded Kevin. “Much closer to 2.5 percent.”
If writing the code isn’t the bottleneck, what is impeding value delivery? “You have to think about end-to-end flow and product value streams,” explained Kevin. “Metrics on flow are the main trigger to help with forecasting.” He continued, “Product funding is fundamental broken. You have to think in circular products.” Nicole then provided a detailed breakdown of how every product has value stream. Through the business and IT analysis of Tasktop Integration Hub, Nicole hammered home that the audience must connect their value streams through product modeling to extract more business value from IT. Read on: Forget point-to-point: why models are the only way to scale toolchain integration.
Metrics, as ever, were major focus of the day. Attendees poured into “Measuring DevOps – The Key Metrics That Matter” with Electric Cloud’s Anders Walgren. Warning against vanity metrics, Anders explained that you should choose metrics that are objectively measurable, and that “only focus on few metrics and maintain a high signal-noise ratio.” To reiterate his point around meaningful metrics, Anders explained “we once identified we had too many support tickets open. So our goal was to close them. We closed them but didn’t solve our customer’s business problem.” The right metrics is crucial for continuous improvement between IT and the business, as Bryan Finster from Walmart pointed out, “Standardized metrics matter.” You can read more about metrics in Dominica DeGrandis’ article on The 5 Best Metrics You’ve Never Met.
The launch of the Flow Framework™
Last but certainly not least, our CEO and founder Mik Kersten presented his keynote presentation “Project To Product: How Value Stream Networks Will Transform IT and Business”. Mik talked through the genesis of the Flow Framework, his pioneering new approach to seeing, measuring, and managing software delivery to help traditional enterprises to survive and thrive in the Age of Software and Digital Disruption. You can learn more about the Flow Framework in Mik’s upcoming book Project To Product (launched November 20th – pre-order here). Can’t wait? Sign up for the Project To Product newsletter, and check out Mik’s blog series that provides a flavour of what he talks about in his book.
Tasktop – The Driving Force Behind BMW Group’s Solution To Integrate Their Software Delivery Supply Chain
If you’re at the show, you may have noticed a BMW i8 in the lobby. A key element of the Project To Product is Tasktop’s critical work with BMW. You can read more on that in Mik’s article The End of Manufacturing Line Analogy.
How the hell did you get BMW i8 into a Las Vegas casino…?
Glad you asked. This is how (courtesy of René Te-Strote, IT Project Lead at BMW Group).
Coming up tomorrow..
“Connecting IT to the business at BMW Group – Carmen DeArdo (Tasktop), René Te-Strote (BMW Group) – 11.25-1.55 (Sponsored Breakout, Mont-Royal)
“Making Connections Visible – How To Defrag Your Value Stream” – Dominica DeGrandis (Tasktop) – 12.05-12.35 (Break Out A, Chelsea)
Come talk to us!
Want to learn more about Value Stream Management, model-based integration and everything else in between? Come visit us at Booth 201.
We look forward to seeing you tomorrow!