The role of a CIO in fostering an agile DevOps culture

The word DevOps has made a solid mark for itself in the IT industry in the last decade. It?s always a part of any tech trends conversation, and the market numbers speak for themselves. The size of the Global DevOps market was estimated at around USD 4311 million in 2020, and is projected to reach USD 5114.5 million with an 18% CAGR. That?s tremendous! Every other IT organization seems to be adopting this approach in order to better employee productivity, company value and high quality software solutions. But what is it that?s driving this growth?

Defining DevOps

Let?s simplify this. DevOps is essentially a combination of ?development? and ?operations?, and this cohesion represents a software development process that integrates automation with the capabilities of the team to create exemplary solutions – the mission remains common.  Look at it like a surgical team. There is always a lead surgeon present in the room, with a team of medical specialists including doctors, nurses and technicians dedicated towards patient safety. Their expertise, commitment, determination, and trust are the main riding factors for the success of the surgery.

An IT team works in a similar fashion, with individual responsibilities tied into collaborative action. And the ?surgeon? leading this team is no other than the enterprise?s CIO. The role of technology within the enterprise is largely dependent on a bunch of internal and external stakeholder expectations, and it is the CIO?s job to stay on top of things. As the person who is responsible to ensure the agility of teams and processes alike, CIOs need to contribute directly to the business?s bottom and top line. This not only requires a constant assessment of company culture, but an innovative way of re-imagining productivity and scalability in a digitally transforming world. DevOps, thus, comes to the forefront, as a strategic aid for CIOs to achieve customized, highly specific business goals.

Enabling The DevOps edge

Inculcating a DevOps led culture within pre-existing setups has now become top priority for CIOs across the world. This is partly because IT delivery and time to market significantly impacts end outcome and product delivery. But that?s not all. A robust DevOps implementation saves a ton of time and effort for developer teams, their leaders and the end customer alike! Here are a few things that CIOs need to think about with respect to building DevOps cultures within their companies:

Go cloud first: It is impossible for any IT enterprise to create effective, sustainable solutions in the absence of agile solutions, and the first step towards imbibing agile into pre-existing processes is letting go of legacy systems and moving to the cloud. This is not as simple as it sounds – we can?t expect to lift and shift applications overnight. The responsibility of ensuring that re-architecture is undertaken one step at a time, without any rush falls upon the CIO. It also becomes imperative for the CIO to invest in training modules and easily accessible resources that team members can learn from seamlessly. These processes may require an initial financial investment, and while the transition can seem daunting at first, it is most definitely worth it in the long run!

Build resilient core technologies: The one question that CIOs need to keep asking themselves is ?do we really need to do this??. The technology industry is moving at an extremely rapid rate of evolution today, and almost every week, some form of old tech becomes redundant. Sure, it is important to move on to better, faster and cost-effective solutions, but CIOs need to understand which emerging tech to pick in lieu of the ones they are abandoning. It is good to stay on top of novel solutions that make the rounds within niche markets, but keep your teams focused on specific tech that aligns directly with distinct business goals, rather than giving in to tech trends blindly. As a leader, a CIO needs to have a complete and thorough understanding of not only their business, but also its competition, supply and demand curve and target audience. These factors play a massive role in determining the kind of DevOps strategies needed, as different products and services require different tech stacks. At the end of the day, these decisions also need to make economic sense in the present, and not just for the future.

Enable transparency: This is probably the most critical of all. At its heart, DevOps is all about making life easier for your teams, and collaborative effort towards the same goal makes a world of difference. A CIO needs to lay great emphasis on better communication and cooperation between various IT departments, in order for team members to be on the same page and in sync with each other. With cross team collaboration, half the challenges with miscommunication, project understanding, and customized roles and responsibilities goes away. Siloed cultures don?t make the cut anymore! Empathy goes a long way. Build mindfulness into your interactions with team members, and the results will speak for themselves.

Hire dedicated experts: As mentioned before, digital transformation and agility is hard to integrate into legacy system led architecture, especially because hundreds of improvement opportunities exist. So what do you do? Get someone who knows the ins and outs of DevOps to support you and your team early on. CIOs need a team of dedicated DevOps experts to monitor tools and development processes, accelerate digitization efforts, integrate end-to-end observation, and analyze key insights frequently. The fact remains that automation also needs a certain level of human interaction to work in a foolproof, and it is a misconception that high quality software is more dependent on machines rather than inherent expertise. This expertise comes from the CIO directly, and the more help they can get, the easier it will be to bring the DevOps edge!

CIOs have a lot to gain by introducing their teams and colleagues to the DevOps culture – one that is led by speed, quality, streamlined automation and secure solutioning. The sooner they build their capabilities in line with these evolving expectations, the better their leadership strategies will become!

The author is CEO & Co-Founder, iauro Sytems

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