5 things digitally driven CIOs want for the holidays

CIOs have had a challenging year leading digital transformation programs and delivering results. Here are somethings on their 2018 wish list to make driving transformation easier.

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Happy holidays everyone! You’ve survived planning season and hopefully netted out a reasonable budget and 2018 priorities. Your team has been working hard in Q4, have completed several critical milestones, and are ready for a break before starting on next year’s initiatives. If you’re in retail, hopefully your improved customer experiences have yielded a significant increase in customer spending. You’ve also had employee productivity in mind and have happy users working with the latest self-service data visualization tools and even have a few signing up to be citizen developers.

Time to make your holiday wish list. Here are a few things that come to my mind

1. Business leaders that are active agile partners

Many CIO have acknowledged that having a well defined and executed agile practice is key to digital transformation. It enables teams to commit and get short term deliverables done while enabling business leads to adjust priorities, requirements, and strategies based on customer feedback.

But a key element of success is the business and IT collaboration and partnership around the process. Beyond product owners exhibiting bad behaviors, there can be a reluctance from business leaders to devote sufficient time to articulate visions, define priorities and participate in demos. For this holiday season, CIOs would love to see business leaders target 20% of their time to work directly with technologists on 2018 opportunities.

2. Reasonable expectations on what constitutes an MVP

Even with agile practices in places, one common issues teams face is with the debate on what capabilities and features constitute a minimally viable product (MVP). While product owners should use data, customer feedback, and best practices to define MVPs, many fall into the trap of appeasing multiple stakeholders and then overloading priorities with long tail requirements. So, while there appears to be alignment on timelines and vision, application releases are at risk because product owners are overdriving scope.

The heart of agile is to release early, measure outcomes, and devote teams to continually improve products and services. It can take a tremendous amount of energy to align leaders when there are disagreements on scope, so for this holiday season, CIOs would love to see more of their partners challenge their notions of minimally viable before overloading teams with larger than life wish lists.

3. An innovation budget to run multiple experiments

Being on the cloud, having teams succeed with agile application development, enabling automation with a DevOps practice and culture, and establishing the data driven organization are today’s digital transformation table stakes. Digital competitive advantages over the next few years will be partially driven by organizations that are able to produce meaningful business results by applying emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, or large scale IoT. CIOs not only want an innovation budget, but one that is large enough to run multiple experiments with the cultural acceptance that only some will succeed.

4. Development teams maturing platforms and adopting coding standards

CIOs all love developers with the technical chops to crank out amazingly efficient code, experiment with new methodologies, and demonstrate a strong willingness to mentor more junior members of the team. We champion the ones that can also listen to business leaders and user needs, present options, and quickly turnaround innovative solutions.

But digital transformation is requiring many more organizations to develop and release more applications than they have ever before. This can lead to legacy maintenance nightmares if these applications are developed on too many platforms or without coding standards. CIOs are looking toward developers to help create, evolve, and implement platforms and standards as this not only increases the quality of the application but will make them easier to maintain in years to come.

5. Vendors that deliver seamless application upgrades

CIOs are getting used to SaaS providers that perform seamless upgrades to their platforms. When performed well, new capabilities are released regularly, communicated to end users, and rarely introduce business interruption.

Still, there are many platforms that don’t offer seamless upgrades. There are many PaaS platforms with rich programming capabilities that enable developers to code more complex workflows. There are BI tools that allow business users to self-service their analytics. Finally, there are industry specific solutions that can be highly configured. Many of these platforms still require CIOs to implement expensive dev, test, production lifecycle to these upgrades to ensure critical business functionality isn’t compromised. CIOs would love to see the bar raised where vendors delivering seamless upgrade becomes the status quo.

What’s on your list? Happy Holidays!

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