Once upon a time, I believed that the global multinational organisations who were thriving when I was growing up could not be shaken, that they were too large and well established in their respective domains for new players to enter.
My observations from periods of economic turmoil such as the pandemic, the global financial crisis and 20 years in the tech sector resonate with the challenges I am hearing from clients today. This article explores a couple of these challenges and how to navigate them to safeguard existing (and capture new) market share.
Embrace change as a constant
Technology allows organisations to enhance their business capability and optimise customer and employee experiences across the entire business lifecycle. 2020 has demonstrated more than ever that organisations need the ability to quickly pivot and adapt to changes in the market, whether they are changes in regulation, customer preference, or environmental/economic factors. How do you establish the foundation for change when the technological landscape itself is constantly changing?
For me, the first sign of vulnerability was Y2K and the frantic rush of organisations to update clock algorithms to ensure huge banking platforms would not collapse and cause economies to tumble. Fast forward 10 years to a period of digital renaissance, a new age of innovation, with digital technology enabling new modes of communication, new ways of banking, shopping and working, and new platforms and business models appearing out of thin air. Who could have guessed that a decade later we would see a pandemic (COVID) causing the greatest digital disruption and uptake of digital technologies the world has seen to date, with it being across all industries?
Change is not just inevitable, it is constant. New generations are progressively more technically inclined and accustomed to seamless digital experiences. The need for investment in digital capability and optimisation is also constant. Agile and Hybrid-Agile delivery models support incremental delivery and cost allocation allowing you to spread budget and tie it to benefits over a period of time.
With a constantly changing technological landscape, there needs to be continued investment in relevant assets and resources that are scalable and adaptable to change to enable your organisation to evolve. Structuring projects on incremental delivery of benefits, focusing on the release of packaged benefits rather than big bang capability allows you to pivot and adapt to changing circumstances throughout your delivery lifecycle.
Reduce time to market
Particularly in small markets with low barriers to entry, there is constant risk that competitors or new players harnessing cutting edge technology could do something you do quicker, easier, and better than you. So, what can you do about it?
In a recent program for a large banking client, I discovered that human error accounted for more than 18% of defects being incorrectly raised or invalid (on average) during the system integration testing phase of the project. This is not surprisingly high considering the manual effort involved in testing, replicating and troubleshooting issues, however most scenarios were computer based, and there were hundreds of tests to execute with high frequency. I would not want to carry 18% inefficiency forward daily through the lifetime of the program, would you?
Delivery models should aim to reduce time to market to ensure products hit customers before competitors’ do so market share is not eroded. Agile and Hybrid-Agile delivery methods are built on the foundation of continuous improvement and keep you aligned to changing needs and requirements, with outputs from each iteration applied as inputs to the next.
Automation significantly reduces the time, effort and risk associated with executing manual tasks, and mitigates unknown errors. Implementing repeatable, controlled and consistent delivery through automated environment build, automated continuous integration and delivery pipeline, and quality engineering practices helps to build confidence in your delivery discipline and substantially speeds up time to market.
Read this article by Deloitte Platform Engineering Partner, Liz Douglass, which discusses whether internal or external capability is best when it comes to building the skills you need within your organisation.
I no longer believe that bigger is better or that longevity equates to sustainability. With organisations becoming increasingly more integrated and complex, they need the infrastructure and tools to support continuous delivery, bundled with the right sets of skills and experience. I have witnessed new entrants capture market share with their ability to continuously deliver at speed using methods that enable faster and more frequent releases, while building quality into their solutions and better aligning to customers’ changing preferences.