Digital transformation: 10 ways DevOps helps

Successful digital transformation work requires speed and agility - so DevOps process fits right in, IT leaders say. Could your team benefit in these areas?
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Back in 2016, technology and business consultancy Everest Group published a report entitled “No DevOps, No Digital.” They were onto something: While DevOps is not necessarily mandatory for digital transformation, it’s awfully close. The processes and tools involved certainly accelerate the digital journey on a number of fronts.

“DevOps, in its simplest form, is the coming together of various technology design, build, delivery, and operations teams to serve business objectives,” says Yugal Joshi, vice president of digital, cloud, and application services research for Everest Group. For years, these teams have worked independently. DevOps brings them together to not only accelerate software delivery and better manage infrastructure, but also to illuminate each team’s pain points for the other.

“It makes them appreciate other people’s point of view rather than throwing something ‘over the wall’ and hoping it works,” Joshi says. In fact, he adds, “it is next to impossible for any enterprise to digitally transform without using concepts of DevOps.” 

[ Are your digital transformation metrics up to date? Read also: 10 digital transformation metrics to measure success in 2021. ]

How DevOps fits with digital transformation 

Just how does DevOps aid in digital transformation? Let us count the ways – beginning with these ten.

1. DevOps is built for rapid change

“As digital-led enterprises deliver analytics and AI applications faster, many have accelerated their release schedules by leading with DevOps and agile initiatives,” says Tapan Patel, senior marketing manager for AI and Cloud at SAS. “DevOps is the de facto approach to develop and deploy applications that enable continuous delivery.”

The global pandemic illustrated the importance of agility in responding to sudden and extreme shifts.

The global pandemic illustrated the importance of agility in responding to sudden and extreme shifts. “Those that had already adopted DevOps were able to pivot much faster with their digital strategy,” Patel says. “DevOps allowed them to survive and, in some cases, thrive.”

2. DevOps encourages digital mindsets

DevOps is fundamental to establishing mature digital capabilities and product teams that are empowered to react to changing customer demands, analysts say. “DevOps is not only technical enablement but also a fundamental shift to a more digital mindset, leveraging automation to force hard questions about managing risk while moving quickly,” says Peter A. High, author of Getting to Nimble: How to Transform Your Company into a Digital Leader and president of the technology and business advisory firm Metis Strategy.

3. DevOps encourages experimentation

“DevOps brings an agile mindset, tooling, processes, and team culture that helps enterprises increase the pace of software delivery,” says Joshi.

“Experimentation, failing quicker than later, getting faster market feedback, and doing something right at first are key tenets of DevOps and digital transformation.”

[ Need to explain key Agile and DevOps terms to others? Get our cheat sheet: DevOps Glossary. ]

4. DevOps creates shared accountability

"Teams are no longer accountable only for their part, but the impact they are creating as a whole."

“One crucial element people overlook when talking about DevOps from a digital transformation perspective is the common vision, operating framework, and performance measurement culture it creates,” Joshi says. “Teams are no longer accountable only for their part, but the impact they are creating as a whole.” No more blame game or finger-pointing equals faster time to market.

5. DevOps builds trust

“DevOps cares about culture in a way we haven’t previously addressed from a technology point of view,” says Helen Beal, chief ambassador at DevOps Institute. “With our focus on optimizing the flow of value, we distribute authority to drive empowerment and autonomy. We treat trust as the foundational cultural characteristic and nurture this through transparency, visibility, and enabling data-driven conversations.”

[  Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

6. DevOps values faster customer feedback

As a result, IT teams can quickly adjust strategy and make corrections. “This helps in responding and shaping customer demand, a key ask of digital transformation,” says Joshi, noting that “customer” does not always mean end customer, but rather any stakeholders, such as employees and partners.

7. DevOps makes digital transformation more cost-efficient

“Organizations are under pressure to reduce their IT costs – especially the cost of transformation,” says Venky Chennapragada, DevOps architect at Capgemini North America. “Enterprises are adopting serverless technologies within their application portfolios – and DevOps has evolved to develop, build, test, and deploy these serverless apps.”

8. DevOps helps teams move faster

Successful products come to market quickly to capture the first-mover advantage. “Imperfect products that reach the market faster often beat out polished but delayed products because the business can gather customer feedback and iterate more quickly,” says Andy Sealock, senior director in the advisory and transformation practice at business and technology consultancy West Monroe. Automating code testing and deployment and real-time monitoring of systems can reduce feedback cycle time from customers to product engineers.

9. DevOps balances speed and risk

Sure, one goal of DevOps is to limit bureaucracy. But it can also reduce risk. “DevOps balances throughput and stability and we shift left; we test and verify earlier,” says Beal of DevOps Institute. The end-goal result is continuous compliance, she adds. “We check for quality, we check for security and performance, and we ensure that we are doing the things required by the regulations that govern our business. We automate all of this where we can.”

10. DevOps can supercharge existing digital transformation work

Agile, cloud, and cybersecurity maturity get a boost when organizations begin to adopt DevOps practices and tools. DevOps makes agile development faster through increased automation, helps teams doing hybrid cloud work, and allows for the integration of automated security testing every time code is committed. “It is a multiplier for many, if not all, other digital transformation initiatives,” says High of Metis Strategy.

[ Culture change is the hardest part of digital transformation. Get the digital transformation eBook: Teaching an elephant to dance. ]

Stephanie Overby is an award-winning reporter and editor with more than twenty years of professional journalism experience. For the last decade, her work has focused on the intersection of business and technology. She lives in Boston, Mass.

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