02.16.2016Enterprise Tech

Looking at trends that impact IT: Creating a culture of speed

Last month, Verizon Enterprise Solutions released its predictions for the top Enterprise Tech Trends of 2016. Across industries, enterprise technology organizations must transform rapidly to keep up with emerging business models, and each of these trends provides thought-provoking challenges. 

The second trend on the list, “Speed will be the Deciding Factor” predicts that “companies that embrace agile processes and can execute with speed and integrity will pull ahead from the pack.” The problem of mitigating speed and quality is something that CIOs grapple with on a daily basis. Solving this problem effectively—and in a sustainable way —can provide significant competitive advantage in the marketplace. From an IT perspective, two intrinsically linked elements are essential to both speed and quality: culture and technology. It is vitally important to get the culture right to maximize investment in new technologies as mastering the technologies alone will not be enough.

Because Verizon Enterprise Solutions provides enterprise-grade solutions that are essential to our customers’ businesses, we have traditionally strived for quality at the expense of speed. Embracing a waterfall approach with protracted development and test cycles ensured that deliverables worked as expected when released. And if they didn’t, the failure was magnified. Positioning our organization for speed meant not only changing embedded development methodologies to more agile processes, but more importantly, changing a risk-averse culture. To do this quickly and on a global scale, we implemented a framework to make it personal and to make it fun.

When we wanted to create a continuous deployment model, we applied concepts from games and nurtured friendly competition among application teams to determine which teams made the greatest advancements in DevOps maturity. In a set timeframe, teams explored new methodologies, trialed new tools, and experienced failure, all in a ‘safe’ environment. Not only did this event accelerate DevOps automation across a wide range of strategic applications, it also had the effect of fostering collaboration among distributed teams to share experiences and successes. Similarly, we leveraged Hackathons to promote focused innovation and solve real business problems by facilitating cross-team collaboration on a global scale.

Bringing together global teams from technology, operations, finance, marketing and more to hack a problem during a timed event led to innovations as diverse as new data visualization models, the integration of 3rd party technologies in ways not attempted before, and even new products. These approaches (and numerous others) helped our organization look at our business processes, technology, and daily work in entirely new ways. They laid the foundation of the culture we want to achieve—one of collaboration, risk-taking, and risk mitigation through shared successes and failures; a culture that works at the speed of ‘agile’ delivering often, learning fast, and continuously improving. Perhaps most significantly, they gave everyone in the organization an investment in driving change.