DOES 2019 | DevOps | Mainframe DevOps
July 11, 2019 Uncategorized

Reflections on DOES 2019: What Happened in London Shouldn’t Stay in London

Overview: Forward-thinking technology and business leaders joined DevOps gurus and thought leaders for an immersive multi-day smörgåsbord of learning opportunities, otherwise known as DOES 2019 London–and some interesting trends emerged.

If I had to describe the gold standard for a professional development event, it would go something like this: high-energy immersive education, inspiring keynote presentations, boundary-pushing thought leadership, good old-fashioned fun and, importantly, unicorn socks. That’s right, unicorn socks. I’m describing, of course, the recent DevOps Enterprise Summit 2019 (DOES) in London, which brought together forward-thinking technology and business leaders from around the world for an incredibly worthwhile and memorable event.

In going through my notes, some distinct trends bubbled up to the top that are worth recapping.

The Days of Bimodal IT Are Over

The Theory of Constraints says that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. It should come as no surprise that many of the speakers, being that they are DevOps ambassadors and evangelists, had the same message: anything that is slowing you down needs attention.

It’s almost hard to believe that not so long ago, top tier analyst firms like Gartner were heavily promoting the ill-conceived two-speed—aka Bimodal IT—approach. But thankfully those days are (mostly) gone. Companies like Lloyds and American Airlines are clearly employing one-speed IT to drive their digital transformations. These trailblazers did a fantastic job of convincing the audience that mainframe-inclusive DevOps is not only doable, but they are already exploiting it.

Employee Engagement is Key

Compuware CEO Chris O’Malley and CFO Joe Aho sat down with Gene Kim for a memorable Fireside Chat to discuss selling senior leadership on the value of DevOps. They discussed Compuware’s transformation from a declining Waterfall-entrenched company to a vibrant Agile organization that releases net new innovations and updates to classic offerings every 90 days. Chris stated that if you are going to change you need:

  • True grit—the courage to take on setbacks
  • Passion—talk about the good, the bad and the ugly
  • Perseverance—in the face of setbacks

Employee engagement is also necessary in order to drive change. And once you’re where you want to be, employee engagement is your competitive differentiator. Chris further emphasized that by giving Compuware’s employees a mission and purpose to solve customers’ most important problems, a culture that drives innovation through measured risk taking, iteration, feedback and transparency regarding successes as well as failures was born. Notably, after 19 quarters of innovation, the same people who were there at the start of the company’s journey are still working for Compuware. Joe Aho aptly noted that if you can get your employee engagement up, you will increase customer satisfaction and cash flow will take care of itself.

Stop Calling Them Kids

I wish this wasn’t a theme, but I repeatedly heard some large companies refer to their millennial IT staff as “kids.” Personally, I find this very insulting. Next year the eldest of these next-gen pros will be turning forty. That’s 4-0, not 1-4. They have an established career, most likely a house and a family—and they are delivering the technology that provides your company the competitive edge it needs. And, if they aren’t already, these so called “kids” are the ones who are going to be driving your digital transformation, whether by execution, sourcing new ideas, or assuming leadership roles where they will most certainly make decisions that affect the future of your organization. They deserve respect starting right now.

Companies are Looking to Identify Next Steps and Best Practices

Where previous conferences have focused on more elementary information about DevOps (what is it, how it works, etc.), the general themes of this event were more mature.

Many early adopters of enterprise DevOps have progressed on their journeys and are stepping forward to share their best practices as well as their failures. It’s incredibly encouraging to see the community speak so openly about the good and the bad in hopes that others will learn from their mistakes. It was also refreshing to see each of the companies presenting tell the audience where they needed help, with the hope that audience members would be able to help them solve that challenge so they could move on to the next step of their journey.

Working for a company that went from 40+ years of waterfall to Agile, I can tell you the learning never stops. And while hearing about others’ journeys is critical, organizations must forge their own paths. Resources like the DevOps Guidebook Series are very helpful.

It comes down to this: in business you’ve got to keep the main thing, the main thing. And what is the main thing? Your customers. If you can’t inspire employee engagement by emboldening your teams with a worthy mission to always be innovating on behalf of customers—and equipping them with the means to create that innovation—then you’ll ultimately lose. Conferences like the DevOps Enterprise Summit both inspire and educate organizations about the value of DevOps, which is so critical to the development and delivery of those customer innovations.

A big thanks goes out to Gene Kim and his team for delivering another excellent conference!

See you next year!