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Whose Roadmap is it anyway?

Does technology drive the business or does the business drive the technology? For many  CIOs and IT leaders the Roadmap might feel more like a cycle… View Article


Whose Roadmap is it anyway?

Does technology drive the business or does the business drive the technology? For many  CIOs and IT leaders the Roadmap might feel more like a cycle of major upgrades than an advancement in IT capabilities, but with the right process innovation it can be a driving force behind the business.

Competing priorities 

The average Retail CIO has a tenure of less than three years (average CIO tenure is 4.6 years) and a budget of around 2% of turnover if they’re lucky (Banking is 7.9%). This means the pressure to deliver value and make a difference, all while balancing the needs of the retail business with upgrading the technology estate, is harder than ever.

Any retail IT department and retail CIO must balance the retail business demands, with managing the often-complex partner IT landscape and contracts needed to deliver the Service to keep the business going.

Balancing the needs and priorities of the business with the imperatives and limitations of the technology estate can sometimes make it feel like the roadmap is being dictated by the technology itself, or the partners that provide it. The cycle of major upgrades, compliance patches, security fixes, minor upgrades, repeat… makes it feel rather like the ‘Keep calm and carry on’ slogan that was so popular a few years ago. I’ve also heard it referred to as the “treadmill” roadmap, which is understandable when the next upgrade is due moments after the last one finally settles down.

While it’s an easy sell to get the business to buy into some sexy new functionality or feature, a technical upgrade that gives the business nothing new is a hard sell; yet often this is vital to keep the show on the road. So how do we balance the needs of the business with the needs of the tech that delivers it? Historically system’s maintenance has been the largest single cost of ownership in IT during a system’s lifetime. The analogy of business-critical maintenance being like changing a wheel while the car is in motion is often pretty accurate, although it never really gets the recognition it deserves.

The art of the in-motion wheel-change

This isn’t as crazy as it sounds. In fact, not only is it possible but it’s been done! It takes balance, practice, teamwork courage and a complete disregard for how things are usually done that allows “run” and “change” to co-exist and even enable each other. A quick Google will show plenty of videos of the literal version i.e. some nut (I mean talented stunt driver) actually driving a car on two wheels while he/she or a very agile partner in crime (and it probably is) changes the wheel in mid journey.

The IT version, I’m sure you will not be surprised to hear is less exciting than the motoring analogy, even in retail. It’s called Devops and while it’s been around for a while as an idea, the practice is well established and is every bit as impressive in the results it delivers if done properly. There perhaps is the rub. Like all complex changes in ways of working it’s got to be done well, and there are as many definitions of Devops as there are practitioners. However, this wonder of process improvement is not as difficult as it sounds, and entails (or some might say enforces) the negotiation and balance of technical and business priorities.

Read the full article here


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