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You Want to be Agile? 4 Mandatory Changes for Corporate IT

You Want to be Agile? 4 Mandatory Changes for Corporate IT
I am reminded every day that the pace of innovation just gets faster and faster. Agility in the eyes of the business functions comes in the form of tangible business capabilities that can be seen, touched, and experienced. These are usually instantiated in the form of some sort of application or mobile app.
As the pace of change increases, corporate IT risks being left behind if it doesn’t make these four fundamental changes:
1. Structure

Corporate IT needs to shift to an agile structure, which empowers each person in IT with the opportunity to deliver. Adopting a dev/ops model in IT is growing in popularity because it increases the empowerment of IT teams by blending development with IT Operations. Classically, these IT functions were separated into two separate teams but more IT teams are finding that combining those functions leads to faster delivery of business capabilities.

Agile scrum teams are another structural change occurring in corporate IT. These accelerate delivery through iterative, “sprint-based” development. Both of these examples require that corporate IT change it’s structure, which may mean breaking down fiefdoms, so don’t underestimate the fact that there could be strong resistance to these structural changes.

2. Mindset

I like to say that corporate IT has truly become a team sport because technical decisions are being made in a more distributed fashion as the business functions become more tech-savvy and more technically empowered. Corporate IT needs to feel and act more like a broker of solutions than the gate-keeper of any and all things technical. Corporate IT should offer pragmatic options to solve a particular business challenge.

We need to stop negatively labeling the business power-users as “shadow IT” and instead embrace them by providing self-service solutions that they can easily leverage. Our goals should be enabling the business teams to do the things that, in the past, only IT could do. We should adopt a self-service mindset.

3. Tools

Dev/ops, continuous integration, and agile development require new tools. The old legacy development tools need to be replaced with tools designed to fully support speed of delivery. Many of these tools are open-source which requires a mindset change in some corporate IT teams which see open-source as inherently insecure.

Much has been written about the possibility that open-source is actually more secure than closed-source, given that more code reviews and testing typically happen in open-source. Maven, Puppet, Chef, and Jenkins are just a few examples of the popular open-source solutions that are designed to speed IT delivery and improve quality of those deliverables.

4. Knowledge

Corporate IT needs a “knowledge uplift.” Given that architectures are much more distributed and much more cloud-based, corporate IT needs to become the cloud architecture experts. We are seeing a resurgence in the need for enterprise architecture and the expectation grows that corporate IT understands “how it all works.” This requires a desire by corporate IT team members to expand their knowledge to understand the bigger picture and not just a specific technical domain. Their technical knowledge needs to be combined with solid business knowledge – including business goals and business operations.

My recommendation is to push your architects out of their comfort zone and get them educated about cloud architectures, both formally and informally. Formally occurs through training and certifications and informally occurs through networking with their peers.

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