In the earlier blogs in this series we looked at a few business themes that will inform the future out for a decade. In the second part we started to look at considerations on how such business themes will recalibrate the approach to development and maintenance of IT applications, and how enterprises should prepare for this. We will examine a couple of more considerations in this concluding third part.
Consideration #2: Future IT applications will harness the strengths of both human and robotic users: Robots have been used on factory floors, in hazardous mines, in warehouses, etc. These robots respond in-line with inputs parameters (including sensors) based on conformance to a set of patterns (read as: instructions and algorithms embedded in IT applications). Application capabilities based on AI are not new. As an example, automated Algorithmic Trading / High-Frequency Trading based on sophisticated / self-learning algorithms has been the norm for several years now, without being called AI or Robots. AI based applications are increasingly penetrating into automated execution of repetitive functional and technical operational tasks and so on. While the NoOps paradigm talks of eliminating these repetitive tasks due to the way the underlying applications are developed, automation opportunities will still abound in the short-term due to: the duration of the journey to realize NoOps, lack of business case for eliminating certain tasks by underlying application development, etc.
Robotic users of IT applications bring forward high productivity and can interact with screens, documents to extract and process data, provide human user like inputs (including key strokes), learn from previous transactions, interact with sensors in an automated manner, etc. and can deal with data overload far better than human users, so long as it confirms to patterns. Human users on the other hand excel at relationships, physical mobility, learning, creativity, judgment, connecting the dots (the reason why they don’t need to drive a million miles to learn driving or can anticipate the unanticipated, unlike driverless vehicles); and are substantially more energy efficient than machines.
Therefore the development of future applications needs to exploit the strengths of these two user groups in horses for courses manner, with a view to make customer journeys and execution of business value chains faster-better-cheaper-and-smarter. In Application Maintenance too, robotic users can be relied upon to readily create trouble tickets coupled with automated association of input parameters, monitoring conditions based on deep diagnostics, to further aid expeditious resolution.
Consideration #3: Change in the yardstick for measuring performance in Application Development and Maintenance (ADM) work: Today ADM performance is largely measured based on consumption metrics, be they FTEs, Fixed Price, Pay as you drink in SaaS applications, time to release code in production, number of trouble tickets, etc. and this will not serve enterprises well in the future. Enterprises will need to move from “what’s easy to be measure” to “measuring what needs to be measured.”
It will become imperative for future ADM performance measurement (and corresponding vendor contracts) to be based on the P&L impact created for enterprises. The traditional hurdle of, challenges in establishing the causality of IT actions to P&L impact generation is diminishing. The corresponding metrics in Application Development would be: speed-to-market of compelling business-IT capability to deliver distinctive competitive advantage (in part fueled by effective Proof of Concepts, Applied Innovation harnessing trends relevant and material to the enterprise); in Application Maintenance it would be: automation that improves business KPIs such as reduction in revenue leakage, etc.
Indeed the NoOps paradigm makes cannibalization of traditional form of ADM contract revenue for vendors, a given! This just means vendors have to earn their revenue in a different manner that inseparably joins their actions with their clients’ success and driving lasting structural improvements. For driving such a virtuous win-win impact it is imperative for enterprises to gain valuable experience by commencing work NOW to structure their current ADM contracts to focus on delivering impact across IT Inputs, IT Outputs & Business Outcomes in order to secure the future competitiveness of their organizations.