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Innovation, revolution, and your future as a leader in Business and IT

Randy Potter

Thanks to new technologies, media, and the political realm have been radically decentralized over the past few years. Anyone with a phone or laptop and an internet connection can become a broadcaster or political commentator. Revolutions and rapid change are organized outside the circles of the elite by regular people using technology. IT itself isn’t immune to this trend and is facing a very similar pattern of disruption with the democratization of IT.

Command and control and waves of change: How top-down IT services began to open up

Innovation in software has definitely changed the world – but real successful innovation here has traditionally been driven and led by strong IT leadership. These leaders shared some common approaches, which include:

  • A compelling singular vision
  • Well-coordinated and synchronized innovation
  • A strong command and control of teams.

Today, IT leaders are recognizing that these approaches can no longer keep up with the pace of change in their businesses.

Why is this? Innovation is now increasingly distributed and outside the purview of IT. Teams are self-organizing and comfortable in disruption and chaos models. Additionally, the agility needs of organizations are increasingly decentralizing decision making and orchestration – and there are three key waves that are converging to drive this disruption.

Navigating the waves of the democratization of IT: Responding to decentralization and disruption – and shifting them in your favor

Wave 1: Democratized innovation

Change driven by software innovation is now pervasive and increasingly found occurring at the “edge” by actual business or client resources. These resources can now access capabilities and platforms to drive software innovation with a swipe of a credit card. IT has become more democratized through the acceptance of Software-as-a-Service packages, the emergence of low-code platforms, and the commoditization and mass adoption of IT computing power.

Developers on the outside

Forrester Research highlights this phenomenon of more developers working outside central IT organizations, noting that “in 2019, 24% of developers working on internal software technology say they report to a business unit instead of to a CIO or an IT department. We predict that this percentage will continue to grow in 2020 as product-centric teams flourish and low-code tools enable more business users to build apps.”

Wave 2: Automation and AI

Investment in intelligent automation for the delivery of new business services and their underlying business processes is bringing explosive growth and underpinning a massive change in how these services are created. Automation is now opening traditional IT services to business users via simple self-service IT, natural language processing (e.g. digital assistants), and native monitoring and self-healing capabilities. Finally, business users are moving rapidly to enrich their business services using artificial intelligence-driven in large part by the maturation of easily deployable AI offers from many leading market platforms.

Wave 3: Scaled agile, DevOps, and enterprise architecture

All this decentralization means that there is even more pressure for businesses to drive innovation within an antifragile enterprise architecture, along with the need for a scaled agile approach across diverse and distributed drivers of innovation, and a mature set of DevOps practices. The increased adoption of scaled agile frameworks (e.g. SAFe, Nexus, etc.) and the use of DevOps automation practices are removing these barriers. Edge innovation can now occur at scale as IT leaders adapt, orchestrate, and accelerate innovation via Automation-as-a-Service to these business and client teams.

The way forward – Infinite possibilities

Ultimately, reacting to the decentralization of IT boils down to the fact that if IT can’t be more responsive, the business really doesn’t need IT – and this has had a profound impact on the way businesses organize their teams, and how they interact with IT and Applications Service providers.

So, how do you control, drive, and support innovation within your business while remaining relevant? There’s a truly infinite set of possibilities to your approach to tackling and capitalizing on this disruption and shifting it in your favor. Our view is that the keys here lie in your ability to:

  • Act as a fast mover to finesse an innovative and agile enterprise architecture that unites everyone and keeps everything together.
  • Rapidly adopt an intelligent automation framework and open it up to your business and clients via a self-service and as-a-Service model.
  • Scale agile throughout your business and orchestrate value creation while not impeding your operations.
  • Implement DevOps and make sure that you’ve got an organization that’s neatly structured and operating with practices that enable efficient collaboration and trust to occur.

I’ll dive more into how you can get started on this, while expanding on how you can effectively navigate the waves of the democratization of IT in my next post. Stay tuned!