Every company is a technology company
At Le Web, Paris in 2013, George Colony, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Forrester told a room full of tech entrepreneurs, investors and dealmakers that in the future, all companies will be software companies.
This prediction has already come true. Most leading companies today are either already technology companies or are in the process of becoming one. Whether you build and sell technology to help other organisations or not, if you do not use technology to improve operational efficiencies and put technology at the heart of your operation your competition is likely to crush you and make you irrelevant.
Unlike yesteryears, due to the speed of technology innovation, you would not even know where your next biggest competitor may come from. The recent history is littered with dominant market players getting squashed due to underestimating the power of new market entrants, e.g. Uber disrupting rental car businesses and Blackberry losing to Android and Apple.
Emergence of Chief Information Officer (CIO)
Chief Information Officer (CIO) role first emerged when BusinessWeek announced in 1986 what started as electronic data processing has become business strategy. The article introduced Al Zipf of Bank of America and Max Hopper of American Airlines among the first wave of CIOs.
In late 2006, IBM Chairman and CEO, Sam Palmisano issued a challenge to more than 100 CIOs from the world at IBM’s first CIO Leadership forum to become their organisation’s Chief Innovation Officers.
Rise of the DevOps
As Information Technology (IT) started to lead innovation in organisations, the agility in delivering IT systems and the need to run them cost effectively and reliably became critical. This gave rise to the concept of DevOps which started to breakdown the internal barriers and conflicting priorities which existed between software application developers, database experts and system administrators. DevOps introduced continuous delivery, which combines agile software development, continuous integration and continuous deployment.
Back to the CIO
Today, CIO is a significant contributor to the direction of any large business. The days of the business deciding what to do and then CIO putting that into action is long gone. The CIO and CEO feedback loop has to be real and regular. The need for a Board seat for CIO has never been more needed than now.
This means the technology has become a driver of business change rather than an automator of business process. With rapid and more frequent release of software, DevOps had become the latest tool in CIO’s arsenal to ensure the company stay at the top of the markets it competes in.
A case study
The case of GE is a great example of how a 120-year old company is transforming itself from a manufacturing brand to a technology business.
According to CIO of GE, Jim Fowler, Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE’s strategy is to turn the industrial giant into a top 10 software company and the software that the company creates will then turn into products and services for its customers.
Take a moment to let above sink in… Here is a 120-year industrial giant wanting to become a software company. 10 years ago, you would have said this was madness.
Such are the bold transformations needed to remain relevant in the future. This does not mean GE will suddenly stop manufacturing turbines and other industrial machinery. What it means is that the business will be treated as a technology business and the mindset that comes with it, which is rapid product development and continuous delivery, hence the importance of DevOps within GE.
GE has moved from outsourcing to insourcing, taking control of IT, the data and business process knowledge, which is vital for strategic decision making. GE appointed Bill Ruh to head GE Digital and move from treating IT as a set of projects to IT as a set of products. With this, GE started to treat its own IT as a software company and in the process making George Colony’s vision come true, perhaps sooner than he thought.
What about you?
Whilst some companies have made great strides in digital transformation and use of DevOps to fuel that transformation, not everyone has been quick to adopt. No company can remain a laggard and expect to survive in the next decade. History has shown that a market leader today could be irrelevant tomorrow, unless you stay two to three steps ahead of your competition.
Precipience is well placed to help companies achieve a step change through digital transformation utilising DevOps.
“I have partnered with the Percipience team on a broad range of projects over the past years. From strategy, IT diligence and optimization to product execution. Percipience has been key to our technology success at Hearst.” Phil Wiser, CTO Hearst Corporation