, , ,

Last September, I talked about Gartner Group’s bi-modal topic in my post Adopt, Adapt … but Focus on What Doesn’t change.  It was also something I explored with Dan Woods from Forbes while at an Apigee FinTech Summit in late 2015.  My point was both modes are necessary … moving fast with new systems of engagement is critical, but not at the expense of jeopardizing existing business, systems, or processes.

So seeing this CIO article In the digital era, CIOs not buying ‘this bimodal crap’ certainly peaked my interest!

To summarize my Adopt, Adapt post and the Forbes article … the two modes are defined as follows:

  • Mode 1 – Systems of record that are highly governed, reliable, and have all of the values and properties the financial services industry is known for.
  • Mode 2 – Systems of engagement that are fast moving and responsive to innovation and customer needs. These systems move forward with far less governance and may allow defects that are unacceptable in systems of record.

And the opening line from the Forbes article is worth reiterating:

Silicon Valley companies move fast and have essentially learned how to rebuild a car while going 100 miles per hour. Unfortunately, many of the practices that enable this rapid speed violate the core assumptions in industries like financial services. Facebook’s motto: “Move fast, break things” doesn’t really work in a heavily regulated environment that serves as the backbone to our economy.

The CIO article title certainly has the intended ‘shock value’ effect. But once you get past the title and initial commentary, I do agree with many of the points the article is presenting:

  • The proliferation of digital technologies is forcing CIOs to manage IT as a product rather than simply provide IT services.
  • “Most CIOs now recognize that all of the technology team and function needs to be fast,” writes Tim Sheedy, a Forrester Research analyst who advises CIOs, in a blog post published today. “Yes, some systems change less often than others, but all change needs to be fast. There is no longer an appetite for long, drawn-out, technology-led changes. There is no longer a place for slow IT.”
  • CIOs are accelerating IT service delivery, pumping out minimally viable products, testing them, collecting feedback and refining them and or squashing them if they fail.
  • “If you’re the IT department and you’re not helping your product development team with time to market you’ve lost,”
  • The CIOs say there were some bumps along the way, but nothing unexpected, while trying to cajole IT workers to unlearn years of learned processes. Management buy-in is also essential for success.

The important element to keep in mind is the source from which the article came … CIO.  The emphasis is around how IT can move faster … accelerating the delivery of new capabilities in a condensed time to market.

I couldn’t agree more.  And beyond merely Agile & DevOps, APIs and a platform approach are the building blocks of the digital economy. Here are 3 business points to consider about why this whole topic is critical to think about:

  • From the Forbes article … the challenge for companies who are getting started and those further down the road is to think of the API as a unit of digital business design, not just as a programming construct.
  • From the CIO article … Agile and DevOps are increasingly becoming the go-to software development strategies as companies overhaul their IT operating models for the digital era.
  • From the book Platform Revolution I mentioned in my previous post …  Consequently, platform expertise has now become an essential attribute for business leadership … firms that understand how platforms work can now intentionally manipulate network effects to remake markets, not just respond to them.

So yes, it is about the technology and IT … but it’s not just about the technology and IT. Your API strategy should be driven by the business strategy  … the form and function of the API should be driven by the requirements of the business. … it’s important to realize the platform, unlike previous IT activities within the enterprise, is a first class product of the organization.