When your digitization journey truly supports your organization's core value.
The world is changing due to extreme events like a pandemic. The purpose of leadership therefore needs to change accordingly. The natural response to a crisis is often the opposite of leadership. With fear as a counselor, we can see a reversion to traditional control and processes. The underlying cause of this is the need for safety and security. Precisely during extreme events leaders can make the difference. In these events the market and employees need different forms of stimulation and support.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic many countries went into a lock-down forcing employees to work from home. Although the measures taken are being relaxed more people are working from home than ever before. As a manager you want to know whether your employees are as productive working at home as they are at the office. A lot of research [1,2,3] focuses on efficiency. If you are running a service business you should focus on the flow of the work instead. Three strategies are presented that minimise the effects of working remotely.
The recent outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound global impact on our society. Business and governmental organizations were hit by a myriad of challenges. Unexpectedly and all the same time, threatening their existence. The immediate imperative for airports to address this was to prioritize health measures and operational excellence. Innovative solutions that enhance customer experience with new revenue streams (by using innovative business models with their partners) and support creating a sustainable airport came second.
It is no longer a question whether your organization will move applications to the cloud; it’s only a matter of when and how it must be done. In this article, we will share our insights on what is required to make this transition successful. We will highlight various perspectives that should be taken into account when you consider a cloud migration and explain how you can determine the right strategy to follow.
What is the Future of IT?
That is a fascinating question to ask, but extremely hard to answer. Confucius said: “you need to study the past to define the future.” So let's ask ourselves the question first, what has changed our industry in the past decades? To simplify things, let us take the perspective of writing software and see what has changed. As Marc Andreessen described in his article in The Wall Street Journal in 2011: “Software is eating the world,” and by looking at software, we might be able to see what is changing the most and see what lies ahead of us. Nowadays, software is everywhere. It is not only at the places you expect it, like your laptop computer or your iPad, but it is in our cars, our refrigerators, the toys we buy for our kids, our home, our washing machine and, it sounds scary, even in your toilet in the future. So software is everywhere. But how do we build software? Has that changed significantly?
Behind every digital transformation, there’s usually a solid, well-considered plan and matching strategy. Due to COVID-19 and the suddenly changing economy, many companies feel forced to digitize immediately. All of a sudden, everyone is expected to be able to work remotely. It requires much effort to make everything work digitally, straight away.
Marcel de Vries, CTO, and founder of Xpirit, a subsidiary of Xebia, the Dutch Powerhouse in Amsterdam, say's, "We compare the current situation somewhat with swimming lessons. First, you carefully put your toe in the water to make sure it's not too cold, then suddenly you're pushed into the water, how well do you swim? The big question is, what is your reaction when you have recovered from the initial shock? Do you swim back to where you fell in, or do you adapt and swim in the direction of the new environment? If you give it some thought, swimming in the new direction turns out to be better than you ever expected!" According to de Vries.
Many companies have spontaneously accelerated into a digital transformation, with all employees forced to work from home. They may have had a digital transformation plan on their to-do-list but didn’t implement it. At moments like this, decisions reached in crisis mode. Which generally take weeks or even months, can have enormous, incalculable consequences.
“On one hand, you immediately start with digital collaboration. Think of using Zoom or Microsoft Teams. On the other hand, you face the challenge of applying remote engineering. Your engineers located throughout the country suddenly have to bring software to production with their teams. How do you do that when you are not near to a colleague? How do you do that when you need to depend on the development software in your company? How do you ensure that everyone can access it safely and still stay compliant?
Keeping their head above the water is currently a top priority for every company. In a crisis like this, essential issues as risk and compliance do not come first. In the past, you could easily take the time to look at all possibilities, and companies are now choosing business continuity. De Vries says: “It simply takes too long to carry out an extensive risk assessment. You need to immediately make sure that your entire business does not come to a halt. You will solve problems later! That is a logical choice if you are in crisis management mode.”
"Due to the current situation, there is also more leeway for temporary solutions. It makes everything more fluid, after which you can still do the remediation to fix it. Adjust afterward and see what you should have done differently or better. That's exactly the right mode for companies. Work-based on feedback and adjust! We instructed companies to implement this model before the crisis. It can still help them now be more efficient. We know what it means to do a digital transformation. We have been doing this for the past five years. We know what's involved. Let us help you optimize your current state and help you accelerate. After all, you are now in the water, so let us teach you how to swim the fastest and smartest. That is what we do, and instead of planning for it, we now can help you act on it right away."
The IT Consultant as a lifeguard
According to de Vries, executing a so-called forced digital transformation is a blessing in disguise. "Many companies had cold feet for the transformation but are now thrown into the deep at once, where they have to learn to swim immediately, so they're forced to deploy their digital transformations faster. Now that you're in the water, it is instrumental that you learn how to swim more efficiently or how to last longer if you swim in a different direction. We have known the pool for a while..."
"We often encounter resistance and cold feet at companies; at some point, you sometimes feel like giving them a push. But of course, that would not be appreciated."
Above all, companies should not think that they are already there and absolutely should not go back to the 'old' way. "You are already in the pool. Go for a swim and keep your head above water. Please take advantage of it and start seeing it as an opportunity. If you go back to the old way, all the pressure and misery has been a waste of time. At banks and insurance companies, we see that the new way is working. Some of them already plan to downsize their offices. Embrace what is good and only throw away what does not work. Otherwise, there are many missed opportunities. You also see change-oriented organizations. They are moving ahead and taking advantage of what is currently happening. These are the companies that emerge as digital winners. Those are the organizations that say; it will never be as before. It is wiser to go ahead and win the race. We are now swimming anyway, so let's aim to be first across the pool."
“Our consultants enjoy entering this phase. Beyond the resistance. You feel and experience the pain at the moment, and you have to take advantage of that.”
Cost-saving, more safety, better compliance, and cooperation; remote engineering
Many companies that have now taken the first deep dive into digitization are currently confronted with high, unnecessary costs and do not yet work efficiently. Their current implementations are not designed to be compliant and still have a high risk of not being implemented safely. The number of cybersecurity attacks is currently unprecedented. It creates enormous problems in the future that must be repaired. “Before data is out on the street, it is better to assess and adapt fast.
There are also many smarter ways to optimize collaboration. It would be best if you adapted to the model of the high performing IT organization, working in value streams, according to DevOps. Secure and compliant by default.” Says de Vries.
The costs for a digital transformation quickly recouped.
Especially when you first start helping with the cost side of a company. “Everyone will be confronted with high digitization costs in the coming months. We can often quickly provide insights on what can be done much cheaper and more efficiently. Our Cloud assessment e.g., provides you with advice on where you can save costs and which investments you can or should make to earn back even more in the long term.”
The choice for a digital transformation depends on which angle one comes.
De Vries says: “Is the goal cost optimization? Then we can do a scan, looking at how you set up Cloud subscriptions, what your cloud spend is, and how cloud native your software architecture currently is. Based on this, we can advise you on the measures to take that save costs. For example, by adjusting your architecture, optimizing functionality, and using the technology already there, we can make smart changes to your software so that you can adopt native cloud functionalities and no longer have to choose for expensive options. Think about setting up more efficient plans for your virtual machines or making some software that utilizes the serverless capabilities of the cloud. In the cloud, you pay per use. That’s different compared to the billing you have been used to form your datacenter or hosting provider. We can also show you exactly when you have recouped the investment. Architectural changes can often be recouped in 3 months or half a year, depending on the size, of course.”
"When it comes to collaboration, DevOps, and remote engineering, you need to look at how teams can work together more effectively and efficiently.
If you are adopting DevOps tools like Azure DevOps or Github as a service, it would be best to make your teams work smarter together. Smart collaboration and ease of CI / CD setups are a few examples. It's the crucial moment you can embrace DevOps principles. You will significantly increase your efficiency by actually doing continuous deployment and bringing your software to production several times a day."
"Everything is going remote; there is no reason to be in the office. Unfortunately, that is sometimes still in the minds of people. Fortunately, we can do Everything remotely."
"Where one normally has a software development team in an office, these developers now work from home. It is shifting from local engineering to remote engineering. Offering many opportunities, overlooked with an office mindset. You can now have a larger talent pool you can draw from since locality is not an issue. You can develop software 24/7 at lower labor costs. Azure DevOps, GitHub, Visual Studio Online, and Azure Cloud are useful services to support that. With this technology, you can work worldwide. "The tooling for remote engineering is simply available, but unfortunately, it is still not mainstream for many companies. Today, hosting your software development tools yourself is not efficient and productive anymore. Just purchase the already available SaaS product, then you don't have to manage the infrastructure anymore yourself, and you can use that time to create value for your customers." say's de Vries.
Xpirit has been successful in setting up and guiding companies towards the Cloud for more than five years.
They have gained a lot of knowledge and experience in the field of what does and does not work and learned a lot from it. By learning from mistakes, they can protect customers from this. “Everyone has the right to make their own mistakes, but sometimes it is beneficial to know what you will encounter in advance. The choice is yours. Do you want to experience it first before you run into it, or do you learn it from someone else?”
Xpirit is ideally suited to help with the knowledge injection you need now. They do not pull it out of your hands, which creates a dependency, but come to help with the knowledge that is now needed to immediately start working faster and more efficiently, after which your teams can all 'swim themselves'. Say's De Vries: "Instead of taking everyone out of the water, we will teach your team how to swim best in this pool. Because of the experience we have gained over the years at banks, insurance companies, and ISVs, we have gathered quite some insights into what works and what doesn't. e.g., the compliance requirements and laws that come up every time. We now know how to set up Azure in such an environment, compliant with requirements, such as SOC 2 Type II, Cobit, ISO and SOX, etc. We even made standard solutions for it."
Adopt & Embrace
"Where are you now? Look back and decide what you want to keep and what you want to throw away. Don't go back to what was. The only way is forward. It's your chance. Go for it. With our knowledge and expertise, we are happy to help you look retrospectively at how the transformation has been for you thus far and where the opportunities are for you. Companies that say we want to, adopt and embrace, are the digital winners of the future", says de Vries.
Make it Happen, and Make it Stick!
“In this interconnected age, it seems like everyone is hopping on board the digi-train. As a result, the true definition of what it means to be a digital business can get lost in translation. Many companies claim they are in the midst of a digital transformation or are migrating towards digital business, in fact they are only digitizing existing elements of their business; processes, documents, customer experience and more. It’s not surprising that many organizations get stuck in their digital business transformation. Being a digital-driven company requires different skills and ways of working, but in most cases the business structure, strategy and employees stay the same.”