Today, software runs virtually every facet of business. It’s now common for users – both employees and customers – to interact with enterprises exclusively through apps. And more often than not, we’re downloading these apps from an app store using a mobile device.
The near-ubiquity of cloud computing, social networking and mobility have been the key drivers. And with the Internet of Things (IoT) approaching fast, software will be even more intertwined with people and processes. This makes the quality of software all the more important. Software is already a key determinant to defining and differentiating business models.
In this software-defined economy it’s all about the user experience. Apps no longer have to just work; they have to perform to user expectations. After all, how long are you willing to wait for a Web page to load or a transaction to complete before you go elsewhere?
Modern architecture that increasingly relies on containers and microservices demands greater speed and agility. It’s defined by iterative, frequent release cycles that are more flexible and responsive to the need for better application governance.
A new approach to ensure user experience
This environment necessitates building higher-quality software faster and more efficiently. As a result, more companies are adopting DevOps practices as a new approach to software development and delivery.
But the key to DevOps success is less about technology and more about people. DevOps brings software development, IT operations and quality assurance (QA) teams together in an environment that promotes communication, collaboration and trust. The common objective is to deliver customer-facing applications and services in a faster and more continuous fashion.
DevOps teams can break down IT and organizational data silos by making change and processes across the entire application delivery chain more transparent. The end result is continuous delivery, an operational concept that is the cornerstone to the software-defined business.
Bringing business teams into the DevOps process takes collaboration to the next level and increases accountability for improved application governance. Think of application governance as the sister of data governance.
Data governance is based on bringing IT and business teams together to define common data definitions and data management best practices. The goal is to ensure that users have access to the highest quality data at the point of decision to optimize business outcomes.
Application governance does the same thing for the apps that drive the data. Aligning DevOps and business teams moves up the feedback loop on an app’s design and function. Input to the DevOps team from application owners – and even security and compliance teams – lets enterprises realize value from an earlier stage in the application life cycle. Faster time to value improves user experience and drives business objectives.
Some examples of how this data provides relevant feedback to IT and business teams include the following.
- The time to release of each iteration of an app into production, particularly for revenue-generating apps, can measure effectiveness.
- Metrics relating to customer experience, such as usage patterns or star ratings can be monitored from application release through regular checkpoints to validate that business goals are being achieved.
- And in addition to metrics such as mean time before failure (MTBF) for application reliability and mean time to repair (MTTR) for problem resolution, teams can track the cost of downtime and whether they’re improving with each new release.
This last point is particularly important because, ultimately, it’s all about the user experience. Depending on the industry sector, slow responsiveness or complete outage of a company’s most business critical application can cost up to $1 million per hour. And the fallout from poor performance can include lost customers, regulatory fines for non-compliance and reputational damage.
DevOps leads to peer outperformance
Successful DevOps practices enable companies to outperform their peer groups in financial performance and market valuation. Multiple studies, including the annual Puppet Labs State of DevOps report, prove this out.
Companies with strong DevOps cultures are more stable, with higher-performing IT teams that work better together to drive operating results. They deploy code 30 times more often and 200 times faster than less-efficient teams. More importantly, they also recover from failure 168 times faster and implement changes 60 times more frequently.
The more available and reliable their software is, the better insights companies gain into user experience. The better the user experience, the more engaged their employees are and the higher customer satisfaction scores and loyalty they earn.
When done right, DevOps allows companies to accelerate time to market for their products and time to value for their customers. Perfecting this continuous-improve cycle is the path to sustained competitive advantage in the software-defined economy.
Gabriel Lowy is founder of Tech-Tonics Advisors, a leading provider of strategic communications for technology companies that bridges vision, strategy, portfolio and markets with customers and investors to build value for all stakeholders. A multiple award-winning analyst, he has published over 1,200 reports and articles on various technologies and companies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.