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Survival Requires Agility: Optimizing for Accelerated App Delivery

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CIOs and IT organizations are challenged to support business units with modernization initiatives to help them respond to challenges and opportunities in the digital era. IDC predicts that by 2021 — and that's less than two years from now — at least 60% of global GDP will be digitized, with growth driven by digitally enhanced offerings, operations, and relationships. Today, survival of the fittest is linked not to size or strength but to the ability to change — to move quickly, adapt, seize opportunities, and be agile.

Companies need to create new digital platforms that allow them to collect, analyze, and share an ever-expanding range of data sets from internal systems, customers, and things. The vision for every digital platform is underpinned by modern app dev and deploy strategies designed to sustain the competitive requirements of the 2020s. Modern application architecture has APIs, microservices, and containers as foundational technology components.

The result is a paradigm shift in app delivery; this means a change in what apps are, and how they are built, deployed, and updated. It also means a step-change increase in the number and scale of apps being built. At IDC, we predict that a staggering 100 million new apps will be created by EMEA enterprises over the next four years — this is the same number built over the past 40 years!

These "hyperagile apps" are highly modular, distributed, continuously updated, and leverage cloud-native technologies (e.g., containers and microservices). The future is discrete, agile, and intelligent apps, with the end consumer at the heart of everything.

This transition to cloud-native application architecture requires development and IT operations teams to evolve to build and deploy apps faster and more efficiently. Agile and DevOps tools and approaches become the default for all enterprises. It's no longer about whether organizations should adopt DevOps, it is about getting DevOps right and scaling it across the enterprise.

Increased business agility and business innovation are clear benefits to DevOps adoption, surpassing the lure of enhanced developer productivity. Remember, DevOps is not a tool or a technology — it is the intersection of people, processes, and technology that aligns with business leadership, culture, and strategy.

Without doubt DevOps is mainstream. Just over 60% of EMEA organizations now utilize DevOps, some to a far greater degree than others. This said, the journey to enterprise-scale DevOps is only just beginning. On average just under a third of enterprise applications (31%) are developed and deployed in this way.

While DevOps transformations and automation continue to gain in importance, organizations remain challenged in truly driving superior performance in the context of developing and delivering software capabilities quickly and safely. In fact, 60% of European organizations utilizing DevOps methodologies struggle to achieve DevOps at scale. At the root, there remain siloed teams, systems, and processes. While much progress has been made, IDC finds that 62% of organizations are focused on joining together Dev and Ops as the next most important thing to do on the DevOps journey.

The pivot to DevOps helps drive cultural and operational change, unite engineering and development teams with the business, and provide a framework to speed innovation. European organizations fully embracing DevOps can accelerate the ability to push out innovation at 50–100 times the frequency of traditional approaches.

Achieving accelerated app delivery and becoming a DevOps protagonist — or as IDC prefers a "DevOps Determined" organization — requires a game plan for success:

  1. Collaborative and agile teams: Organizations must have confidence to make the required organizational and cultural changes.
  2. Continuous integration and delivery models. Organizations must understand where value is added in the development pipeline and encourage teams to optimize the processes they control.
  3. The use and expansion of automated processes. Shift to unified, scalable, and intelligent automation. Organizations need to have an open attitude to automating steps in the development pipeline, for both development and operations teams, to continuously iterate.
  4. Strong business leadership. Put in place strong business leadership teams that optimize the budgeting process for technologies that drive products and innovation.
  5. The shift to modern app architecture and a strong technical foundation that meets both business needs (collaboration, scale, speed and agility) and IT mandates (compliance, security, business continuity and standardization).

The ability to accelerate transformation of application estates is one of the most critical business objectives for organizations. Yes, application modernization has been a top enterprise priority for at least the past five years — but never has it been more critical. Quite simply, enterprises failing to transform application creation ability risk closure. Every organization needs to accept the need for new operational structures, metrics, and additional IT investment; organizations must invest in the new while transitioning and modernizing the old. Smart organizations are taking the learnings from more collaborative and automated ways of working and applying this further into the organization.

About the Author

Jen Thomson headshot

Jennifer Thomson is an IDC senior research director with over 20 years of experience in the IT industry. Jen leads the Accelerated App Delivery Practice for IDC in Europe and provides insights on the investment strategies and decisions of European enterprises as they transition to modern application architectures. Her research explores the new rules for apps dev and deploy in a digital economy; and how this impacts enterprise IT organizational structures, culture, processes, tools and skill sets. Additionally her research looks to uncover end-user strategies, investment priorities and KPIs to enable cloud first, DevOps and agile solution delivery.

Before joining IDC, Thomson spend three years with Compaq Computer EMEA as a senior research analyst. Thomson has a bachelor's degree in international business with German from Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom) and Pforzheim Fachhochschule (Germany).

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