If Your Business Looks Digital, What Should Your App Delivery Look Like?

When computers were invented 60 years ago, nobody would have thought that gazillions of 0 and 1s would soon rule the world. After all, that’s all there is in any computer memory, be it a laptop, a mobile phone, or a supercomputer like Watson;  if you could open memory up and visualize the smallest elementary unit, you would “see” only an infinite sequence of 0s and 1s, something that would look like this:

Interestingly, that has not changed. Computers are still processing 1s and 0s. What has changed is that we live in an age of digital disruption, an age where software applications run and rule our business more and more. To be successful, those applications need to be engaging and entertaining so that consumers enjoy and are delighted by them; they also have to be mobile and accessible anywhere and at anytime, and they have to leverage tons of information, no matter if it comes from a database, a tweet, or Facebook.  

Software developers and application teams should be really enthusiastic and honored! They are finally center stage in their company business and technology strategy. However, as they receive these honors, they are also taking on the duties. And the duties are new (albeit more fun). In fact, to develop and be successful with these new type of digital applications, which Forrester calls modern applications or systems of engagement, new delivery capabilities are needed: capabilities that need a radical change in mindset, practices, technology, and organization. Kurt Bittner and I have just published a report called Modern Application Delivery Drives Digital Business Success; it introduces the Modern Application Playbook, a research stream that will tackle how Agile, ALM, DevOps, and other new practices and technologies will help organizations develop the right AD&D capabilities to deliver modern apps. 

When it comes to Agile more specifically, after more than 10 years of hearing a lot about it and with both the right and wrong expectations, it might sound like we’ve had enough. Well, we haven’t. In fact, in the digital age, we need more Agile, not less. It’s just becoming more viral and it's coming in different forms (we're also good at inventing new acronyms). I hear more clients crying out for help because their CMOs and business want them to accelerate and deliver more and faster, and they need to scale what they’ve learned by using Agile here and there ... speeding and scaling without compromising quality or eventually improving it! Now that's a challenge.

As you can read in my latest research How Can You Scale Your Agile Adoption?, it's clearly time for app dev teams to: 1) leverage the right Agile PM practices from SCRUM; 2) pair their Agile PM efforts with Agile Engineering ones; 3) put quality and testing center stage; 4) practice DevOps for more automation in the downstream; 5) realize faster feedback loops from production apps; 6) focus business requirements on minimum viable products; and 7) embrace lean modern management techniques as suggested by Eric Ries in Lean Startup and by David Anderson with his Lean Kanban Initiatives.

I will be increasing the flow of my Agile writing this year by collaborating with a number of colleagues in various areas: Agile and outsourcing, Agile and testing, Agile and customer experience, and Agile and modern application delivery, to mention just a few. Stay tuned!

Also, please tell me what you would like to hear more about via the comments below.

Comments

Great stuff!

Dear Diego,

Great stuff!

I would like to hear more about Forrester's opinion on myths born in the agile community (overestimation of self-organization, underestimation of enterprise architecture, etc...). We see that people and companies sometimes misinterpret the agile manifesto and this makes it even harder for them to achieve flow and agility.

We are working hard at CI&T to provide our clients guidance on how to establish a successful enterprise-wide journey towards agility.

I look forward to talking more to you about modern application delivery and enterprise agile!

Best regards,

Felipe Brito

Industry-specific Variations

Diego,
Nice article. You do capture pretty nicely what we've been observing with IBM's vast customer base about their AD&D realities. I'll be interested in seeing if you've any research or thoughts on how specific industries are adopting these practices and patterns; i.e., if there are any industry-specific variations in typical AD&D challenges and any patterns emerging on the solutions.

Great job! Look forward to seeing more literature coming from you and Forrester.

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