Application Transformation in the Digital Economy

Digital disruption has already started for many of our clients. Many companies are facing the challenge of modernizing their infrastructure and transposing legacy value to a cloud context. Simply, the applications that fuel their business today need to run in the cloud.  With so much going on in the world, Cloud Computing, Internet of Things, PaaS … companies need to focus now more than ever.

To modernize these applications companies have to work through a lengthy and often error prone process to assess their portfolios of applications. This takes time and often costs millions.  This process requires human capital to complete. Most initiatives fall short of objectives because the right level of controls and insight is not put in place to inform the journey.

The Cognizant Digital Engineering team has been focused on creating a unique set of assets that automate the process of mapping the journey from legacy application deployment to the Cloud. The vital enabler for change is accurate and up to date knowledge of your applications and our tools provide this information in abundance.

Armed with all of this information clients can make intelligent decisions about where to make their strategic investments for the future.  By identifying the applications with the right intersection between business value and ROI they can determine where to start first and begin the modernization process.

The keys to this transformation are these important views:

  1. Business Value of the Applications
  2. Technical feasibility
  3. The Risks to changing these applications
  4. Cost to change
  5. Time
  6. Benefit

By automating this process Cognizant can help organizations freeup their most valuable people to focus on higher value work (innovation). It also enables them to get to the future faster.  More than that, by reducing the manual arduous task of portfolio assessment and providing a consistent journey for applications, we reduce the risk of error and increase the confidence in doing this work.

To learn more about how we are helping to transform applications please send me a direct message.

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Successful Courageous Executives are Doing these things. You should too.

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me Digital Transformation was easy over the past 10 years I’d have a private jet fueled up and on stand by 24 hours a day. The truth is transformation is not easy and there’s never been a more difficult time to be a c-level executive. Markets are less stable now, deciding on a plan upfront and hoping for success doesn’t cut it in today’s dynamic marketplace.

Compliance with a schedule used to be paramount but that way of thinking is now a liability when the priority is creatively responding to a rapid changing market and user need.  Big up-front planning and large investments are gobbling critical investment that could be allocated to innovation. The solution is thinking big but taking action on smaller increments to learn fast, steer investment and maximize return.

Ask any big executive what keeps them up at night and they’ll most likely tell you:

  • Heritage Applications fuel our business today but they aren’t the applications that will make us competitive in the Digital Economy.  The challenge we face is keeping these applications running while transposing that value to a cloud context.
  • Successfully executing on innovation will propel our business from also-ran to first place.  Making more time for innovation and funneling more investment into these programs needs to be a higher priority.
  • In the process of transforming applications, they’d like to reimagine these experiences and drive customer loyalty and change brand awareness.

 

Successful Courageous Executives are Doing these things

No two transformation movements are the same.  Organizations like people, have their own DNA. So finding a consistent roadmap, one size fits all transformation blueprint is impossible. Yet there are themes to successful transformation movements and some are listed below.

Failing Fast: Plans change, customers’ needs evolve, and competition is fierce. The wrong kind of failure is watching revenues decrease quarter over quarter. The right kind of failing fast should be synonymous with quick learning and iteration on user need, so costly risk is mitigated through rapid experimentation.

A tersery look at successful entrepreneurs reveals that they have been successful by building companies that are constantly running experiments. Experiments that last one day or less. This is the type of rapid experimentation that will fuel innovation and success in the Digital Economy.

Successful c-level executives have embraced this way of thinking and taken it one step further by creating a vivid picture of success for their teams. At the center of that picture is customer benefit, customer usage or consumption and customer behavior. By iterating in small slices and using feedback they create a clear roadmap to success.

Drop the Pivot, Just Persevere: For many of us failure often recalls painful childhood images of losing an important football game; failing to make it onto the basketball team; getting a bad grade. Failure is often seen as something negative. As children we were taught that we can learn and grow from failure and the same lessons are true as we compete to win in the Digital Economy.

Organizations need to take learning from failure to an extreme. To develop the grit and determination to continuously learn from experimentation until the organizational mantra becomes, ‘learning from failure is just the way we do things around here’.

It’s not the end of the world if a product pitch or deliverable was rejected by a customer.  Companies with strong organizational grit and determination will take the learnings and find better ways to solve client needs and problems.  Creating safe environments where failure is identified as an important step in the learning process is key to success.  In fact teams should be rewarded for learning, not punished for failing.

Psychological Safety: Leaders who create a safe environment where everyone’s voice matters and failure is a way of life, foster more open-minded, creative, and resilient team members. Successful startups have learned to evolve this way of thinking at scale and have created a learning culture that can sense and respond to the changing environment.

It all sounds good in theory but the breakdown in creating this psychological safety often occurs at the implementation phase.  When we try to move from vision to implementation invariably people are impacted and this requires an immediate change in behavior.  Like all change this is met with resistance. When it starts impacting managers and leaders—and control starts to shift—that’s where things erode.

We create an almost invincible combination when we couple user experimentation with high powered engineering executing at a rapid pace.

Learning from the Best: Large organizations are facing two complex issues: the pace of change of their market and their ability to connect their organization with the future of tech. They are not alone in facing these challenges nor are they the first to solve them. Netflix, Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon are all great examples of organizations that have embraced change to position them to win in their market. We can learn a lot from each of them.

Companies across the globe are realizing that irrespective of the industry they are in, they now need to learn new ways of working from leading tech companies if they are to retain and grow market share.

Companies recognize that the dominant value proposition is often technology and their people drive that technology evolution and innovation. But they make a critical mistake when decomposing legacy value to the cloud; they attempt to build feature parity. In doing this they miss a critical opportunity to reenvision these user experiences for a new workforce in a new marketplace.

By adopting a different approach to decomposing value teams seek to understand the business context of the applications. They create an architecture that supports those capabilities and build vertical slices of the platform that are visible to users for feedback. Reducing the risk of replatforming initiatives and creating new business value. These teams are changing the future of work

People: Many organizations that fail to successfully execute a transformation movement don’t understand that the most complicated part of any digital transformation isn’t the technology— it’s the people.  Companies do not evolve, people evolve. Successful executives know that lasting organizational success results from leveraging and harnessing the power of their people.

Successful Executives don’t pretend to know everything, they engage their teams.  They solicit feedback from a broad base to define a pathway to success.  By practicing these techniques they steer through ambiguity and focus relentlessly on value.

At Cognizant we relentlessly focus on hiring and retaining individuals who embody a full stack mindset. We often refer to these individuals as ‘unicorns’, hard to find and sometimes non existent in the market. When we do find these special individuals we don’t make common leadership mistakes and remove their decision making rights. Instead we cultivate an environment where we engage these professionals and empower them to do the ‘right thing’ through fast feedback.

Looking Beyond Cost Cutting: Continued success in the Digital Economy means looking beyond just cost cutting and creating an environment for sustainable growth.  Visionary leaders will seek and find opportunities for people when tasks and jobs are automated. They coach, train and prepare their workforce for the future. They are  thinking about the new roles, skills, training, and talent when automation replaces jobs.

They show equal passion for people and technology. They nurture the creation of integrated teams that have both business and technology acumen. Recognizing that by delegating decision making to teams individuals feel more rewarded and teams are far more likely to succeed.  By doing this People know what decisions they can make, who to go to for help, and how to work together to resolve issues without having a “manager” involved.

Governance no longer involves command and control. You’ll find that in the new world, where the confluence of everyone’s opinion leads to the best outcome is more fun anyway.

Until next time, C-ya

Bri

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Getting Started with Digital Transformation White Paper

My travel schedule has resembled a tidal wave of late which means my blogging throughput resembles a slow running stream. That’s not say that I haven’t been hard at work speaking and producing content.

I’m sharing our latest white paper, published recently, addressing how you can get started with Digital Transformation. In my travels I continue to see and hear from people struggling to ignite a transformation movement and show success.

McKinsey & Company claim 70% of transformation movements fail.  While the good people at Forbes contend that number is as high as 84%. If these statistics are accurate for you and your organization then perhaps this white paper will help you out.

Getting Started with Digital Transformation 

The majority of executives believe that a transformation movement is an imperative to their future success in the Digital Economy.  In fact 30% of total future revenue will come from new business models by 2020. So the need to break with status quo is clear.

In the coming weeks I’ll be on the campaign trail talking about Digital Transformation and how you can get started. I’m always open to engaging and discussing how you can be more successful.

In the meantime, enjoy the white paper see you all on the road.

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Making The Shift To Intelligent Software Services from Digitally Cognizant

With all the buzz about cloud computing, it may be surprising to realize that many critical business applications still rely on infrastructure, code bases and designs that by today’s standards would be considered well out-of-date. Whether based in an on-site data center or the cloud, most of these applications are designed to run repeatable, predictable tasks only when triggered by a human. Because of the business value these applications produce, organizations struggle to innovate and take advantage of new technology to achieve a competitive advantage.

These legacy applications are a stark contrast to what will drive the next, and more powerful, wave of digital transformation: Intelligent software services that can think, learn, adapt and autonomously take action on data faster than any human could.

Such software services could include:

  • A ride-sharing service that taps a customer’s schedule and social media posts to proactively suggest local events, arranging transportation and nearby venues to eat and shop, as well as a local weather forecast.
  • A home shopping and financing service that monitors a customer’s cash flow, current home listings and the latest changes in interest rates and mortgage terms to suggest specific properties and relevant financing strategies.
  • An inventory tracking system that monitors not only the amount of goods in warehouses but also expected production levels at suppliers and manufacturers, weather and traffic conditions and pricing trends to automatically minimize inventory costs while avoiding out-of-stocks.

What sets all of these services apart from software applications is that they can initiate action without waiting for human input, learn and optimize their performance over time, and tap a far wider range of information than a human ever could.

The Role of Software Services

For consumers, software services will provide far more complete, convenient and useful solutions to everyday challenges, saving them money and time. For enterprises, software services will deliver increased employee productivity, customer satisfaction and retention, competitive differentiation and the potential for new revenue streams, such as the sale of products or services that complement their primary offerings. Auto manufacturers, for example, might receive a portion of the sales of camping gear through a trip-planning application provided to vehicle owners, or a bank might receive a referral fee from a lender providing mortgages to users of its home-purchasing service.

To understand the difference between a software application and a software service, consider the humble thermostat.

In the pre-digital days, thermostats could be set to maintain only one temperature, whether or not anyone was home, or whether energy prices had spiked. Next, we had digital thermostats that could be programmed to, for example, use less energy at night. Like a software application, these devices merely took our input and executed it.

Far more useful is a thermostat service. Using location information from the homeowner’s smartphone, these intelligent, connected devices can turn up the heat when the individual is 20 minutes from home. Through links with the family calendar, they can automatically adjust the temperature, and by connecting with weather tracking and forecasting services, as well as utilities and heating oil suppliers, even lock in the best energy price for the season, or save money during peak pricing periods.

The ability to intelligently and automatically take action to achieve a desired result for an enterprise or customer will enable a wave of innovation, driving efficiency and value into everything we do.

Such software services are not to be confused with “Web services” that replace traditional monolithic applications with reusable “services” that make up, for example, the user interface or a loan calculation engine. Software services are a different form of software, far more intelligent and independent than software applications, that can learn over time based on new data that doesn’t have to be provided by humans.

Critical Challenges

These software services will enable new business models, especially when combined with ever-greater capabilities in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual and augmented reality. But delivering them will require meeting four critical challenges:

  • Effectively applying AI so that systems make better decisions over time. This will require skills in, among other things, big data management and analytic frameworks, analytic algorithms and machine learning. Effective AI will also require ensuring data quality and connectivity with an explosion of Internet of Things (IoT) devices whose data will help provide more and better services to customers and employees.
  • Governance, risk management and compliance (GRC). It doesn’t take much of a security breach to tank a company’s stock price, trigger fines and lawsuits, and end careers. As software services require far greater degrees of real-time data sharing between more enterprises, the amount of data at risk (and the channels through which it could be compromised) will also grow, making GRC more complex. Businesses will need internal staff or partners that can ensure GRC without slowing the pace of innovation.
  • Finding and keeping skilled staff with a deep understanding of the industry and corporate culture. Employees will need to work together in new ways, using DevOps and Agile approaches and principles, to deliver fast innovation. This will entail careful recruitment and/or partnering with outside specialists, as well as retraining and change management.
  • Understanding which capabilities will drive the greatest competitive advantage. Before writing a line of code, businesses need to understand, at the deepest possible level, their customers’ human needs. Such insights are best gained through in-depth, on-site anthropological research that uncovers needs and, coupled with rapid delivery,  produces services that resonate with customers.

Software Services: Get Started Now

The infrastructure allowing enterprises to deliver software services is being created as we speak with every tweak to an AI algorithm, each device added to the IoT, and every new application built to enable real-time data sharing. Each of these helps enable software services that add more value than the software applications that came before.

Software services will create new winners and losers in every industry. The winners will aggressively build their AI capabilities, manage the GRC challenges, grow or partner with others to develop the right skills, and ensure their new software services meet the most critical human needs of their customers.

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The Role of Service Integrators in the Digital Economy

Macroeconomic Factors
Disruption is difficult to forecast particularly when it comes in the form of a technology company that learns how to build self driving cars instead of a car company developing the technology to enable cars to self drive. Yet that’s the landscape in front of us and car companies will yet again change the nature of disruption far into the future. These are the macro economic factors at play.

But car companies are not alone when it comes to changing our thinking. Apple changed the way we consume and think about software forever and I believe that cars will continue to have that same impact on technology, how it integrates with our lives and how we consume it. The technology we will create to fit into self driving cars and the experiences and consumption of that technology will drive the next wave of change. Even though these higher-level activities may seem disconnected from our day today lives they will undoubtedly have an impact long-term.

A time will come when we will look back with embarrassment at how mediocre the technology of today was. Experiencing our car self diagnosing a problem, calling to make an appointment when it’s convenient for us and driving itself to the shop to be repaired will eventually be the norm. Our children will wonder how we ever endured a smelly waiting room filled with other people thumbing through old magazines wondering when their car will be fixed.

The Role of Service Integrators in the Digital Economy
Much fear has existed about the impact the cloud will have on our businesses. Many people believed the shift to the cloud and the abundant leveraging of automation would reduce jobs and ultimately IT spend. Fast forward 2 years and we find a different story. We find IT spending increasing. More over many C-level executives are realizing a direct correlation between IT spending and competitive differentiation. Investing in technology is driving even greater value/revenue for their business. Even though the forecasts about spending decrease and impending dooms day never came to fruition there are still some important changes we not only need to keep in mind but put in place to be successful.

Unlocking Value
When I speak with C-level executives they’re concerned about 3 principle areas, Legacy Applications (often referred to as maintenance), Innovation and new technology, Delighting the user. They feel shackled to their legacy applications. They sometimes feel like they’re chained to the pyramids and cannot move. They have no idea how they’ll ever unlock the enormous value in these apps and worse, how they will transpose their value in a cloud native context. Second they’re tired of being steam rolled by technology. They watch their competitors take advantage of new technology to achieve a competitive edge and they wish they could do the same. Lastly they wish they could deliver delightful user experiences, ones that drive user adoption and loyalty. When they select a strategic partner they will choose one that will enable them to unlock the value of their maintenance applications and redefine their competitive advantage in the digital economy. Moving them to a position of strength – transitioning from being disrupted by technology to leveraging technology as a disruptive force.

Value based outcomes
I often hear people throw around the notion that every company needs to become a software company. Perhaps the devil is in the details but I fundamentally disagree with this notion. When I speak to customers they implicitly talk about driving business value. They want to focus on the applications that drive revenue for their business and forget about the rest. They are looking for a partner that pulls together the ecosystem of technology to accelerate their time to value and time-to-market.

Showing up in a Different Way
If you have regularly read my blog posts or attended my talks you will undoubtedly have heard me talk about the companies that I believe that will be successful in the future. Those companies will be the ones that can create a cultural factory – one where new hires become assimilated into the company culture through the use of pairing with other experienced individuals. The companies that can achieve this kind of DNA replication across their entire organization will undoubtedly thrive in the world. Why is it important to change DNA? The simple fact is that customers are looking for a partner that can take them on a journey. A journey that will lead them to success. A successful journey is one that transforms their applications and people. The first wave of customers have already begun selecting strategic partners. The second and third wave of customers will look to the first for guidance. The strategic partners that are able to demonstrate success in helping the first wave transform will undoubtedly be chosen by waves two and three.

The Future is not set in Stone
Part of what makes digital transformation and selecting the right partner a challenge, is the fact that there is no set journey to success. There are no guarantees in the future. The organizations and the strategic partners that can adjust based on market needs and user feedback will be the ones who will be successful. We live in a world where there are no guarantees and the outcomes are uncertain. It is important that we work together to build trust and demonstrate capability. In doing so we will invariably find a solution and in the process build a solid foundation which after all is what strategic partnerships are all about.

 

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Customer Experience at the Heart of Digital Transformation

In many of the talks on Digital Transformation I’ve given around the world I often get asked how we measure the success of transformation. This question often seems odd to me. This is a business after all, the score card is clear, revenue. Many companies measure their success by the revenue they generate. When speaking to other executives I often frame the discussion in a way they will understand and so I focus on, money. By reframing the work we’re doing to be mutually beneficial we often achieve better engagement across all parties involved. We build software that produces X value to the customer and the customer pays us Y amount of money in return. This is often one of the biggest driving factors for transformation in the enterprise and a key selling point that makes sense to the C-Suite.

Customer Value Quantified

We can almost place a monetary value on customer experience, something that for many feels intangible as they transition from old work patterns. By understanding the customer journey and optimizing how they experience the software we almost certainly drive greater business value or money. This is extremely important in hosted SaaS applications where customers pay for a service via their credit card. Stickiness is difficult to achieve in this context. By delivering poor customer experience it becomes difficult to retain customers which will have an almost immediate impact on software consumption and revenue generation.

Bringing it All Together

Companies that can bring together Big Data, Analytics, the cloud, the Internet of Things (“IoT”), mobile, and rapid application development will drive transformation across their business at unprecedented rates. CEOs that drive a transformation initiative to disrupt themselves know they need to solve for 3 major challenges in their business:

1. Heritage Applications: Legacy applications hold much of the value for Enterprises. Yet the C-suite realizes they need to unshackle themselves from these slow moving monolithic systems and unlock their value.
2. Innovation: A key concern for many business leaders is how to take advantage of technology at the same pace as their competitors. More than pace though, they need to figure out how to unlock value and translate that value to revenue.
3. Delighting the User: The shift to cloud is not solely about redeploying existing applications in a cloud context. It’s about finding new value generating experiences that unlock customer loyalty and revenue.

Blueprint for Change

Further complicating matters is the fact that there’s no set transformation map that companies can follow. Many businesses are accustomed to watching early adopters and first movers and learning from the first wave. Unfortunately that luxury is not afforded to those embarking on transformation journey because each industry is being affected at a different pace and overcoming challenges in new and unique ways. The reasons are simple, at the heart of every company going through this change are organizational structures and people. Each has their own nuances and as a result the journey is unique.

We all must confront a stark reality: integrated digital technology is changing customer experiences, operating models, and business models. Many believe the shift to the cloud is fueled primarily by cost reduction but the reality is something different. IT spending is increasing because digital technology is improving enterprise performance in game-changing ways. The “Digital Leaders”, those companies that are already well on their transformation journey, are quantifiably outperforming laggards. Every industry is facing disruption and for those that have been moving slowly it is a matter of survival.

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The 4 Key Drivers for Digital Transformation in the Enterprise

The following is an excerpt of a chapter from my forthcoming ebook on Digital Transformation in the Enterprise.

Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation is effecting every company across every vertical. While no company is free from the impact of disruption in the form of rapid innovation not all industries are being effected at the same rate. Therefore each company’s transformation will look slightly different which can make it difficult to pinpoint a transformation journey that leads to success.

At its core Digital Transformation is about people or culture and technology and will impact every facet of business for many. To respond to this disruption organizations will need to make fundamental shifts to their business that will drive changes to their core. Many companies are already reassessing how they deliver value to their customers in attempt to retain their market leading positions.

Compounding the complexity in defining a transformation journey is the need for organizations to embrace experimentation and continuously innovate. In a digital economy where user needs are changing often it’s imperative that organizations have the agility to adapt to market needs and embrace failure in the quest to delight their customers. The digital economy is less about certainty and more about finding comfort in experimentation and continuous adaptation in product and process.

Transformation Drivers

Companies seldom choose to disrupt themselves. Most companies fail to evolve and transformation is required to maintain pace with market needs. There are some key drivers for transformation that have created urgency across our industry:

  1. Everyone is doing it. Every company is effected by continuous change in the digital economy so it’s a good bet that your competitors have a strategy to transform themselves and will eventually out-innovate and out-pace you. So you better get started soon or risk being left behind.
  2. With enormous change comes opportunity. Massive opportunity has and will be created for incumbents to dislodge the big behemoths as they fail to change at market pace. In extreme cases companies can double their profitability by accelerating time to market and gaining a jump on their competitors by delighting customers first.
  3. At the heart of the change is reducing costs and driving greater efficiencies. Those companies that can unshackle themselves from legacy slow-moving monolithic systems can drive even greater efficiency across their business.
  4. Apple introduced the iPhone and with it came the app store. The app store changed our expectations on how we adopt new software. We expect continuous rapid releases that either introduce new features, fix bugs or improve security etc. It didn’t take long for the enterprise to align their expectations for enterprise software. Our customers are demanding that we deliver software continuously and with greater efficiency. They no longer want to wait 12-18 months for a new feature or new release.

Getting Started

People and customers are the life blood of any successful company. Some of the most effective ways to kick start an organizational transformation is to align around a holistic customer mission. There are few roadblocks that can stop a team when they’re aligned around a mission to deliver customer value. This single activity enables teams to implement the fundamentals of the Toyota Production System some of which include, eliminating wasteful activities, improving efficient, limiting work in progress etc. Delivering these digital experiences rapidly to market and receiving continuous customer validation provides the motivation teams need to maintain rapid momentum.

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The Rise of the Digital Economy

A new economy – a digital economy – is emerging fueled by rapid technology innovation. An economy that is moving so fast enterprise companies are finding it near impossible to maintain pace. Technology is changing our lives in ways we could only have imagined 10 years ago and that rate of change is only going to accelerate.

The technology of today has allowed us to be much more efficient. Software applications have become the modern tools of business and personal life. Whether we are sending a message around the world, transferring money, or tracking a shipment, there is a software application that we can use.

These software tools allow us to do our work. They assist us in completing a task and excel at things that are repeatable. We use software by opening an application, entering some information and asking it to execute. Well, until recently.

This new generation of software is different in a small but important way. They aren’t applications anymore. They are now software services. You’ve probably been using some for a while and didn’t realize it, but it’s about to completely change your world over the next decade. The Rise of Software Services.

Staying warm, or left out in the cold?
As as example, let’s look at thermostats. Did you know that at one time all thermostats were purely mechanical? If you are old enough to have adjusted a thermostat, you have almost certainly used one, in a baseboard heater, a refrigerator, or even in a hairdryer. But there are certain drawbacks to a mechanical thermostat. It is only set on one fixed temperature, for one. That isn’t very efficient. And so we have the rise of a digital thermostat that is programmable. You can now have the furnace turned down at night automatically so you don’t have to remember. That is certainly more efficient. This is an example of a common software application. It takes our input (the schedule) and executes it tirelessly.

But it isn’t perfect, is it? What about the dreaded daylight savings time? Is it smart enough to adjust for that? What about when seasons change and you have to reset the schedule from heating to cooling? How about extended absences like a vacation? Does the schedule still execute even though you aren’t home? Of course it does. That’s what applications do.

You know what is better? A thermostat service. A service will know when the time adjusts and the seasons change. It will detect when you’re not at home. It will know the outdoor temperature and forecast and predict what impact that has on the indoor temperature. Basically, don’t ask me for inputs, just do the right thing. The Rise of Software Services.

This small but important change will drive efficiency in to everything we do. We’ll have self driving cars that know the right way from point A to point B. We’ll have music services that know the right music to play. Maybe we’ll have grocery services that know the right food to buy this week. Maybe inventory control systems will know the right way to stock the warehouse.

In a world that is becoming more technology intensive, how do we deal with information overload? By asking our software services to make small but important decisions for us.

Key emerging themes
Our future landscape and economy are already governed by some key themes:

1. Artificial Intelligence – advanced machines that not only learn our behavior but predict our behavior will be the norm. Application developers will no longer be asked to build purpose-built applications and instead be asked to program machines that can learn.
2. Digital Dark Side – there is a digital dark side to the rapid pace of innovation and expanding options to deliver software. We still need to maintain pace with GRC, Security and other regulatory requirements and doing so won’t be easy. Choosing a vendor that will abstract away these important details but make sure we’re in compliance will be paramount to balancing velocity and business integrity.
3. People – our greatest asset will need to transform. Those companies that create cultural factories where new employees are assimilated into teams that work in new ways, will dominate our future.
4. Insight to Code – companies who have not transformed how they work will soon learn that building software isn’t the hard part. Knowing what to build is at times agonizingly painful. The next generation in the Silicon Valley approach is Insight-to-Code. The study of human behavior for the purposes of building solutions with even greater predictability.

At Cognizant we get it
At Cognizant Digital Engineering, we get all of these. In co-operation with ReD Associates we can discover insight to your industry’s future. At Cognizant Labs we can develop the software that powers your service. Cognizant can differentiate you in the marketplace and help you delight your customer.

To learn more about our digital offerings and how we’re partnering with customers to redefine their competitive advantage reach out to brian@cognizant.com

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Why Your Hiring Process is Derailing all your Hopes and Dreams

It Really is about Changing the World

If you’re anything like me you embark on your job search with a mentality something like this:

I’m looking for a job that’s going to give me the opportunity to change the world (or company X) in a meaningful way. When I’m done there I’ll look back on my time with pride and know I did something AMAZING.

Sound familiar? Maybe you’re not exactly like me, but I doubt you start with the mentality that you’re going to find any old job and do something mediocre. If you do you should probably stop reading now 😀

I’ve had my fair share of ridiculous interviews. I’ve been asked all sorts of idiotic questions.

“Tell me about a time…”
“Have you ever faced X situation …”
“How would you design a microwave on a space shuttle?”
“What would you say your greatest weaknesses are?”

All of these are ridiculous especially the last one. Um, let’s see you really want me to give you reasons to NOT hire me? Thank you for the ridiculous question, I’ll see your silly question and raise it with a ridiculous answer, “my greatest weakness is I work too hard, do everything better than everyone else.” Come on!

If you’re chuckling at the insanity that’s great it was meant to be entertaining. But if you’re one of those hiring managers that actually asks these questions you probably have no business hiring people. I’m really not joking.

If you don’t relish being asked these questions then why do you ask them? And better yet who are you hoping to hire?

Here’s what We do …
I believe your hiring process should help you find the best talent. That’s why we test our developers and product managers by asking them to participate in relevant exercises that reveal their actual on the job skills.

In the case of developers we ask them to code. We pair with them. We want to see how they’re going to work with others. Will they be able to keep up? Do they have a huge ego? I value teams of people that work together. Teams that support each other and lift each other up. The confluence of everyone’s opinion leads to the best outcomes. Therefore working together is of paramount importance.

Likewise for product managers. We ask them to build a product. Why? I want to see and understand their approach. Will they listen to the requirements we specify? Will they seek to understand? Will they build a solution that solves our problems and needs. After all that’s what they’re going to be doing every-single-day. So if they don’t enjoy this exercise then that’s a pretty good sign if I hire them we are all going to be miserable.

Back to Those Hopes and Dreams
When great individuals start their job search they want to change the world. They want to find a team (family, home) where they can contribute in a meaningful way. They want to know that you’re serious about changing the world. There’s no better way to demonstrate you have no clue what you’re doing than asking them ridiculous questions.

Candidates want you to take the time to get to know their skills. They want you to value their capabilities. After all that’s what you’re hiring. A person who is going to materially change your organization and help you take on the world with their amazing skills.

If your company is embarking on a journey to adopt DevOps and transform their applications then your Hopes and Dreams are going to be destroyed if you hire all the wrong people. Not only that, you’re going to destroy their hopes and dreams. Developers, Product Managers… your teams, they’re the rock stars. They deserve more and they expect more and so should you.

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Adventures at VMWorld 2017

The Grand Canyon at night can be an ominous place. Standing on the lip staring off into the abyss gives way to a deep enveloping darkness that overwhelms all but the bravest. This is exactly how many enterprise companies feel when they look at their competitors out pacing and out innovating them. This week at VMWorld Pivotal in collaboration with VMware and Google announced the launch of Pivotal Container Service™ (PKS) in front of over 30,000 attendees. Bold announcements that may just lift the darkness for many in the enterprise …

Pivotal Container Service (PKS)

So what is PKS exactly? PKS is a commercially supported release of the open source Kubo project, adding two important new capabilities for Pivotal customers: a simple way to deploy and operate enterprise-grade Kubernetes, and a seamless mechanism to migrate to container-based workloads to run On-Premises on VMware vSphere and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). This latest move is a significant step forward in capabilities for traditional VMWare customers and a major statement that the big players are listening to the needs of their customers.

The journey to the digital economy is as perilous as wandering around the Grand Canyon in the dark. It’s easy to lose your way with no end in sight. That’s what’s happening to many enterprise companies as they lose themselves in the journey to the cloud. But cultural transformation needs software to accelerate adoption. PKS is to the enterprise what automation was to Dev + Ops. It enables seamless and rapid delivery of end-user value in a repeatable way.

PKS enables container workloads across multi cloud environments leveraging the power of BOSH for automated infrastructure provisioning, configuration and operation. It’s the commercially supported version of the Kubo release. Essentially it’s BOSH-Powered, Web-Scale Release Engineering for Kubernetes. It brings all the power of BOSH to Kubernetes. Kubo was launched by Pivotal & Google in Feb 2017 and donated to Cloud Foundry Foundation in June 2017.

Developer Ready Infrastructure

While we are at it why don’t we talk about the gap between development and operations because this can often feel like the distance from one side of the Grand Canyon to the other (no really). How can we bring these 2 groups together so we can deliver software faster? As a starting point we can enhance communication but that alone is not enough. We need to enable seamless provisioning and monitoring of applications and infrastructure. That’s where DRI comes in.

PCF needs scale, security and availability from the IaaS. It also needs robust integrated monitoring. DRI provides just this. Beyond just monitoring it also provides isolation zones. The ability to run enterprise applications alongside POC environments with complete isolation. NSX also provides a network plane for addressability.

What does all of this mean?

No one makes money from managing operating systems (well maybe the cool hyper scale guys do) but let’s face it, we’re not them. That doesn’t mean we’re not cool though. What’s not cool is when we write infrastructure code when we should be focusing on writing application code. Because applications drive our business.

The announcements this week may have lifted the darkness on the enterprise, by bringing dev + ops closer together and providing better infrastructure for us all to host our applications but much work still remains. We need to think about value based outcomes. A single-pane-of-glass that enables us to categorize workloads, move them seamlessly from one cloud to another without reducing security. We need to unify this fractured technology space so we can focus on building our applications.

I’d like to thank Kit Colbert and Paul Fazzone for inviting me to share my excitement about the recent announcements on their panel sessions this week. My excitement is genuine, we are inching towards our goals. The Grand Canyon seems a little smaller every day.

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