DevOps: The Right Strategy for Startups

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DevOps: The Right Strategy for Startups

Some people call it DevOps. I call it the only way to succeed in the digital transformation. As small and nimble organizations, startups have exactly the right culture to embrace DevOps from the start, gaining a strong competitive advantage in the current business environment. But what is it? And how does it help businesses grow and thrive in today’s ever-changing marketplace? Below, I share some insights on DevOps and the changing structure of business in the new digital landscape.

What is DevOps?

Before we discuss why DevOps is a must for almost any new business venture, let’s first establish a clear definition of what it means. While it might sound like a top-secret spy regime, it’s actually a new way of looking at traditional org structure to help increase the speed the delivery of quality updates and developments to customers. Amazon defines DevOps as “the combination of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools that increases an organization’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity.” In other words—it helps you do good work, fast. But it’s not just a strategy. It’s a culture, and one that many larger legacy-era companies will have a more difficult time embracing because of size, culture, and traditionally siloed teams.

How Does It Work?

Basically, DevOps works by helping tech companies break down silos to get development and operations teams on the same digital page. Rather than thinking strictly in terms of fix-it tickets and deployments, teams work together to anticipate ways to make products work better for the customer. More of a cultural shift than a specific step-by-step strategy, DevOps improves processes by helping companies think and act differently. As one writer says, it’s not a new job—it’s everyone’s job.

Still, viewing DevOps as a way to improve service delivery alone is shortsighted. When done right, it can improve the entire life cycle of your product, from planning to quality assurance and customer satisfaction efforts. One study reports that companies embracing DevOps get more done across the board, deploying 200 times more frequently, with 2,555 faster lead times, 24 times faster recovery times, and three times lower failure rates. Like I said—smart companies—such as Netflix, Facebook, Amazon, and Google—are embracing the DevOps philosophy. It only makes sense success-hungry start-ups would start to embrace it, too.

Still, it’s not just about doing things faster. One study of 900 IT decision makers showed their top reason for choosing DevOps was that it helps them build better apps altogether. Better apps mean a stronger competitive advantage—and more success overall.

Will It Work for My Company?

That depends on you. By nature, start-ups are small and agile, with fewer legacy remnants than other larger organizations. That means a flatter, more collaborative approach to work would be easier to implement. Still, each business works differently and has its own distinct cultural issues. Companies that embrace DevOps most successfully are:

  • Today’s digital users want the best and fastest solutions now, and the companies that succeed are the ones that are able to give it to them. If there’s a bug, they want it fixed—yesterday. That means establishing a proactive culture focused on new and better experiences for the customer, even if it means embracing the idea of failure in the name of forward-thinking change. That’s a fundamental shift from the old, “that’s-how-we’ve-always-done-it” approach.
  • People-Focused. Companies embracing DevOps know customers aren’t a separate issue from bottom-line success. When customers are happy, success is almost inevitable—especially if you have a fully-engaged staff committed to a clear vision and innovative design.
  • Comfortable with Change. There is no getting comfortable in the digital age except when it comes to change itself. IoT and the cloud are changing everything, from how businesses are run to how they make their profits. DevOps is built for a changing environment.
  • There is no such thing as a silo in the DevOps game. That’s because it goes beyond the traditional development and operations teams to encompass everyone involved in the user experience. It sees value in the insights and roles that all members of the team play, and it fast tracks those insights to create quick, smart implementation.

Gartner projected one-fourth of the largest 2,000 companies in the world would adopt DevOps in 2016, making it a “mainstream business structure.” As with anything in the digital landscape, culture will be a huge predictor of whether your company will experience success. Startups that embrace the concept of DevOps from the outset will be uniquely suited to compete in the new digital landscape, and most importantly, they will be able to win.

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Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.

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