IDC DevOps UK 2022 is one of the first face-to-face events that I've attended for a while. Since the pandemic, I feel like I've been working in a digital bubble. I've had fewer conversations than ever with Tech professionals outside my marketing technology field. So I find these events immensely valuable, like the experience (for me) of going into the office 2-3 days a week.
Just a few weeks ago, I was talking to a CIO at a major insurance company about the challenges of bringing together 17 different companies that his company had acquired, each with its legacy systems and ways to run IT and Security teams. I would never have gotten that insight, sitting in a room with a bunch of marketers, working on 'buyer personas'
Jen Thompson, is the lead IDC analyst in Europe for 'accelerated app delivery' and an expert on 'The future of software innovation'. She delivered the keynote at around 9.30 am, just after our breakfast and networking session at 9 am. She talked about being fortunate to have so much survey-driven data about her industry, some of which she wanted to share with us.
One challenge in DevOps is putting rules into place to enable innovation at scale. The demand for new applications is so intense and growing so fast that a competitive company must have an airtight system to deliver quality software quickly.
Jen also talked about how IDC has noticed companies moving from 'Digital transformation' into a digital-first strategy. For 81% of European organisations, digital innovation is the 2023 priority. Jen gave a few examples:
- Vodafone – putting software development at the centre of the business, and they plan to triple their number of software engineers by 2025 (adding 7000 hires).
- Lego plans to triple its software engineers in the next three years.
Organisations that can scale their software development and innovation will be the winners in the next five years. Then Jen mentioned three questions that have come up repeatedly, not only during this event but at another two-day CIO event I attended a few weeks earlier – CIO Connect at Sopwell House:
- What tools do they have to help them?
- Do they have enough skilled technical workers?
- Do they have the right culture to meet rapidly growing demands?
There will be a 2x increase in organisations with an innovation-led approach. I couldn't help thinking of how these insights will play out in the UK; We are currently the 'stagnation nation' with flatlining productivity, employee shortages, and lack of investment (both private and public).
We need to think about how we design for speed and scale since 40% of organisations are telling IDC that they want to deliver more and faster than they have over the last two years.
The market delivers features in 4-5 weeks. However, 'Disruptors' (under 12%) release in 6 days or under – by 2023, it will be 20%. But those are the numbers for Europe. On the one hand, Germany and France are famously 30% more productive than the UK. However, on the other hand, the UK is ahead as a more innovative country. It made me think, how many of these 'disruptors' are operating out of the UK? It'd be good to get those numbers for the UK.
After Jen's presentation, our very own Bernhard Klemm, Partner Solution Architect EMEA at Tricentis, started with a strong statement: 'The faster you can deliver applications, the more likely you can beat your competition and win retain those valuable customers.'
The majority of applications still take three months or more to be delivered. The reason for such long delays?
Bernhard told us that the top three challenges stated that complicate or delay the delivery of applications are:
• Integration with legacy systems
• Fuzzy and changing requirements
• The time necessary for testing and QA
To overcome those challenges and speed up application delivery, organisations have mainly invested in customer-centric practices like Agile Methodologies.
According to Gartner, by 2025, 70% of applications will be powered by low-code or no-code technologies.
The low-code technology promises to help developers save time by eliminating time-consuming, repetitive codes, freeing them up to ideate and create more intuitive applications.
As the barrier of "code" disappears, the benefits of test automation positively impact their daily life. Developers and Test Automation Engineers are more likely to engage with Low-Code test automation – where they can still use their coding expertise significantly – and retain their core skillset. In contrast, Test and Business analysts are likely to be more motivated to use no-code solutions.
The manager's role is to ensure that the team delivers the business value – fast and high quality. He doesn't care how their team accomplishes that goal. Does that seem familiar?
Bernhard explained that with Tricentis Tosca, you could Build No-Code, resilient automated tests through a unique approach that separates the automation model from the underlying application. This approach has proven to reduce the maintenance effort required for adapting test automation to frequent changes. Using Tosca, you can create a complete coverage of your value stream by supporting more than 160+ technologies and enterprise applications.
Bernhard ran through other products companies can use to deliver no code, low code automated and AI testing. But one that stood out in the presentation for me was Testim. Companies use Testim to automate web applications. Whether you are a manual tester, developer, or automation engineer, all users can use Testim to accomplish their goals. It's SaaS-based, Low-code and AI-powered to help you create tests fast, minimising test maintenance to keep releases on time.
We finished the day with a roundtable in which we asked a selection of senior DevOps professionals and application leaders this question:
Application leaders: Are speed and quality the key to achieving top business goals?
I manned the white screen and started writing out our table's answers. Early on, an application leader at BT said that quality would always be his priority. He said that quality must be guaranteed to ensure the functioning of his company's highly complex network technology. And the group agreed with this point, so we moved on to our table's question.
-How do you build teams where quality is the entire team's responsibility?
Our table agreed that the solution to this was two-fold:
> Product-based teams
Ensuring that a team is working towards delivering a specific product makes sure that each member is fully invested in completing that product, whether an application, a new release, or even a newly developed piece of software.
From culture, we talked about the theme of the day – the war for talent, and how all companies need more software developers, testers, DevOps analysts, engineers, and automation engineers. But as many commented, the talent pool did not seem to grow whilst the demand was.
We talked about the possibility of training. But the consensus seemed to be – if I train one of my team to develop the skills needed, such as to become an automation engineer, his skills become even more marketable. He is even more likely to be poached by a recruiter and leave my company after I've invested much time and money into him.
Tricentis Sales Executive Cillian Golden presenting Airpod Pros to an IT Director at an Enterprise Company.
Under the question of 'Culture' we also discussed siloed organisations being a blocker to quality. That quality requires cooperation (altruism even), and inter-team coordination. And we agreed that innovation also needs those conditions to thrive. Our table decided on the following as our final point before the end of the afternoon:
>Negative – siloed approach, limited collaboration, low trust, not sharing information or resources
>Positive – Product-led, common goals, end-to-end ownership of app delivery value streamsI had no idea the moderator would ask 'the spokesperson' from each of the eight tables to outline what we'd discussed. I was selected to go through the critical points on the microphone, which gave me quite a kick of adrenaline at 4 pm – even better than a double espresso!