Software innovation will be crucial for post-pandemic recovery

software recovery
Software innovation. Photo by scyther5

With every operator in the telecommunications sector facing rapid change, how do you quickly deliver value and continue creating new experiences for customers? The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed every telco to rethink their brand promise. However, one certainty for every operator is that speed is of the essence to keep up with the evolving customer journey.

According to Bain & Co research, network traffic in some countries has surged 70% or more during the outbreak. In Asia Pacific alone, nearly 3 billion mobile consumers must now adapt to life beyond the crisis, including how they connect with one another and how they interact with their providers.

For operators to win the race for customer engagement and loyalty, they need to deliver on digital experiences and features in an efficient, timely and cost-effective manner. Every operator knows the importance of software innovation, outlined in their digital transformation priorities. However, the pandemic has spun the transformation journey on its head, and the evolution of traditional software practices today will need to happen far more quickly to stay ahead of the competition.

As telco leaders across the region are working quickly towards helping customers adjust to new working and living conditions, IT leaders should be asking the question “What is fast and how does my team go faster?”

What is fast?

To get ahead of the changes affecting customers today, companies need to be ten times faster to market and that requires a dramatically different way of developing, securing, and managing software.

The first step in preparing for the digital transformation is to look at how you measure speed: cycle time.

According to iSixSigma, cycle time can be defined as “the total time from the beginning to the end of your process, as defined by you and your customer. Cycle time includes process time, during which a unit is acted upon to bring it closer to an output, and delay time, during which a unit of work is spent waiting to take the next action.”

In a nutshell, cycle time is the total elapsed time to move a unit of work from the beginning to the end of a physical process.

It’s important to note that cycle time is not the same as lead time. Cycle time tells you how efficient your development and delivery processes are, and lead time tells you how long customers wait for a new feature. If you have a lot of ideas in your backlog, you could have a short cycle time, but a long lead time due to the backlog. However, if you can improve your DevOps lifecycle to achieve a fast cycle time, you can then rapidly respond to new business priorities, at the same time reduce lead time delays.

Put another way think, Idea-to-Code-to-Cloud-to-Consume. 

How does your team go faster?

It starts with understanding where your current delivery process has problems – where you’re creating bottlenecks, rework, or merely waiting for someone to do or approve something. The objective of value stream management is to define, measure, and improve the flow of value to your customers. In the case of IT and application delivery, value stream management starts with your backlog of feature requests and ends with the delivery of the features to your users.

GitLab’s fourth annual DevSecOps survey revealed opportunities to address bottlenecks along the stream, including better collaboration between developer, operations and security teams and technology choices that improve DevOps practices and speed up software release cycles. 

The survey found that the lines are blurring between developers and operations teams as 35% of developers say they define and or create the infrastructure their app runs on and 14% actually monitor and respond to that infrastructure – a role traditionally held by operations. 

There also continues to be a clear disconnect between developers and security teams, with uncertainty about who should be responsible for security efforts. More than 25% of developers reported feeling solely responsible for security. In the new world, silos between these teams and responsibilities can’t be tolerated anymore with security increasingly built into the development process at an earlier stage. 

In order to reduce cycle time, IT leaders need to identify some of these gaps and improve processes, automate and streamline your value stream, including moving beyond multiple legacy tools to manage the complex process of developing software.  As you improve your cycle time, you’ll be able to lower your lead time, because your delivery processes will be faster and more efficient.

As markets around the region begin to ease restrictions and focus on the new normal, the enhanced digital customer experience is not just desirable anymore, it is a necessity for operators. Technology now needs to be front and center of your offering as competition is coming from unexpected sources. By measuring, understanding and improving the process, operators can enable their teams to go faster, more securely and deliver greater value.

By Anthony McMahon, Regional Director, APAC, GitLab with over 18 years’ experience in the technology industry in Asia, previously at SAP and HP.

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