Every Once in a While, Even the Blind Squirrel Gets a Nut
One of my favorite phrases is: “Every once in a while, even a blind squirrel gets a nut.” In my humble opinion, every technologist should have one eye on the business while thinking of ways technology can have a noticeable impact on the bottom line. When a company gets a technologist or even better, an executive who has the vision and looks at cost with a wide lens, this is the “nut” that the company is proud to have and the value they never expected to receive.
I’ve noticed that typically, most companies in recent years disparage IT for being slow and for having a negative impact on progress. The focus here is too narrow. We cannot blame IT for inhibiting progress when their budgets are being slashed, and they’re forced to cut costs.
And seldom does a technology come along that tackles a problem that we’ve been struggling with for years, a tool that can improve overall productivity and provide a competitive advantage to the business. The challenge with this type of technology is that it requires a cultural change. But when we take on this challenge, we reap benefits that require a true visionary to take what most people would see as a risk.
One of the key cultural changes needed to unlock the value of IT across the enterprise is top-down sponsorship. To really succeed, senior management needs to understand and buy into the vision. It’s one of most effective ways to bring about behavioral changes and mandate taking full advantage of free flowing data across an organization.
Take Metro Bank, a leading UK-based retail bank, as an example. Metro Bank was the first in its industry to give customers the ability to open up a paperless account in 20 minutes. Metro Bank’s CTO David Young had a vision to sustain that momentum and support growth plans as the company was looking to reduce development times and deliver new features and improvements continuously.
For the company, data provisioning was a significant bottleneck. Its testing and development teams ran over 30 projects in parallel with more than 100 environments, and each environment required multiple data refreshes, causing the dev/test to spend a significant amount of time provisioning data.
Oftentimes, challenges like this have to do with deeply ingrained processes within IT teams that are outdated and inefficient. A change in process can not only impact the organization culturally across IT teams, but it can eliminate the need for delays between IT and the business in having the ability to produce expected outcomes.
With Young’s support, the company implemented an innovative data platform that aligned data management to modern DevOps and cloud infrastructure tooling. As a result, Metro Bank dramatically accelerated project delivery by cutting data provisioning times by 80 percent. DevTest teams were able to branch and version data, enabling Metro Bank to deliver data to teams in a fraction of the time.
In order to successfully implement this technology, top down sponsorship was critical for the Metro Bank. Young understood that when you change process and let data flow responsibly from one team to another, the door opens for continuous innovation.
So what’s the key takeaway? The business should have full control of data throughout the SDLC, fresh production data to reduce defects, catalogs of data available on-demand, easy integration with DevOps tools for an automated pipeline as well as coordinated development efforts with no additional demand on IT.
What are the exact capabilities your platform solution should have in order to bring about IT success? Here’s a quick checklist:
- Manage, secure and deliver data to anyone, anywhere at any time
- Complete automation that eliminates ticket-driven requests for refreshes and environments
- Reduce non-production storage by more than 50 percent
- Tiered SLA offerings
- Centralized management of all data sets
- Mask sensitive data in non-production environments
Alignment on culture and process means that you’ll no longer be stumbling upon a nut, but that you’ll be able to fully empower IT teams so that you’re able to drive meaningful change in your business. Has your business simply stumbled upon a nut or have you discovered this secret to success?
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