COOs & CTOs: run to the hills!

27 Jun, 2017News

In the financial segment, digital transformation and blockchain seem to be an earthquake followed by a tsunami. They promise to leave no stone unturned. Survival (and triumph) is for those who run to the hills in time.

I am writing this from a flight that departed from Portugal, birthplace of well-known “heroes” such as the explorers Vasco da Gama and Pedro Alvares Cabral, and the Marquis of Pombal – who was responsible for the reconstruction of lower Lisbon after the earthquake followed by tsunami in 1755. A city reinvented at the turn of the century, that left behind it archaics face to assume a progressive and light identity, a place where many people want to live today.

Just like Lisbon, the financial market needs to reinvent itself in the midst of – or after – a tsunami. The risks are massive – and so are the opportunities. Only light and flexible organizations who develop skills to support new business models arising from the digital transformation and the programmable economy shall triumph.

The challenge is to get rid of a pre-built armor – monolithic systems, heavy processes, absolute segregation of roles – and fight in a lighter and more agile way.

The weapons for the battle are known: innovation, DevOps and lean. They allow companies to design new offers and business models, implement them quickly and adjust course. It seems to be simple but in an industry based on traditional models such as waterfall development, segregation between development and operations, and error intolerance, the mountain looks insurmountable.

There is no other way out than to embrace DevOps. IT areas need to incorporate new technologies available such as cognition, smart apps and blockchain. Developing and operating are two sides of the same coin. Without a close collaboration between them, continuous delivery is not achievable – and the agility that new business models demand is not possible.

Methodologies like Scrum have fueled software development agility. On the other hand, there is much to do to achieve intelligent operations, an approach that includes analytics; cognition; situational (and business) awareness; continuous monitoring, automation and coordination; and user experience management.

The truth is that operations need more analytics and cognition to transform their processes and systems, observing their operating history, customer behaviors (internal and external) and new technological possibilities. Proactivity will come from continuous monitoring combined with automation, so problems and deviations are promptly identified and automatically corrected. Activities that still require human engagement should be under strict coordination, aligning information, empowering the responsible teams and providing everyone with the necessary situational awareness. Finally, operations must learn to look at their services from the perspective of the client/user. Monitoring must take place from the outside to the inside, emulating the customer’s perspective as well as the performance of internal elements.

Intelligent operations are not limited to the IT department. They affect business areas that – with these new tools and skills – are also able to respond to the challenges and incidents of the business in real time.

Lightweight, flexible and efficient intelligent operations allow companies to conquer the highlands. The weapons and the battlefield are in place. Who will win? Certainly, the institutions that aim to make their operations more intelligent first. They will have the advantage of reinventing and keeping themselves ahead of competition, and then become what Lisbon is to Portugal: the symbol of a triumphant restart.

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