Treat your users as customers to thrive in the digital age
In today’s digital-first economy, every organisation has become a technology company, regardless of the industry they traditionally operated in. From sportswear start-ups to banks that have been operating for decades, every company must now provide outstanding digital experiences and better online services, quicker than ever before. With 60 per cent of consumers saying they’re less likely to continue shopping with a company after a single poor digital experience, it’s a financial imperative to get this right. To do so, organisations must be able to innovate quickly, without exposing themselves to the greater risk of making mistakes that hinder user journeys. However, this is becoming increasingly difficult as technology ecosystems have grown more diverse and complex.
Driving innovation in the digital enterprise
In addition to managing workloads on modern cloud services and platforms, many organisations also continue to rely on core systems such as the mainframe, which are becoming even more important than ever for modern digital enterprises. Indeed, research shows that 90 per cent of organisations see the mainframe as a platform for long-term growth. However, the same research also showed that 78 per cent of organisations want to be able to update mainframe applications more frequently than is currently possible, highlighting the challenge they face in keeping up with the pace of innovation.
This challenge is in large part driven by the outdated tools and processes that are still largely in use across mainframe environments. Green screen terminals and waterfall methodologies were never intended to allow developers to innovate at the speeds that today’s organisations need them to. However, simply throwing a bunch of modern tools at them and expecting that the volume and quality of their output will automatically improve is unlikely to result in success. It’s as much about the mindset that developers have towards their work and their role within the organisation as it is about the tools they use and the processes they follow. As such, IT leaders must focus on how they can bring about a mindset shift that sees their developers refocusing on what matters most to the business.
Cultivating customer centricity
The first thing IT leaders need to focus on is creating a culture of customer centricity among their mainframe developers. Today’s consumers don’t want one big bang product release annually, or even once per quarter. They don’t care which platforms are being used to deliver the digital services they rely on – they just expect small, constant updates that continually enhance their experience in often small, yet significant ways. To enable this, enterprises must embrace agile methodologies on all platforms, including the mainframe, but only 42 per cent are currently doing so.
However, embracing this customer-centricity is as much about the need for a cultural and mindset shift as it is about the need for process improvements. Organisations need to put the customer at the heart of software development, with the ability to react quickly to their changing needs in a matter of hours or days, rather than weeks or months. To achieve this, organisations must provide developers with access to fast feedback that allows them to see how application features perform, and where issues arise. Developers can then be more agile, equipped with insights into where they should focus their efforts to improve the experience and drive greater value for the organisation and its customers.
Empowering and equipping the modern developer
Today’s developer also needs to feel empowered to become more customer centric and perform their role effectively, regardless of whether they’re writing code for a mobile application or a core mainframe system. Organisations must therefore provide a modern environment that allows developers of all areas of expertise to confidently work with large, complex, and cross-platform applications. This should include everything from having an intuitive integrated development environment (IDE) in place, to automating delivery pipelines, to empower developers to just focus on writing the code needed to solve business challenges.
To support this even further, organisations can also use machine learning to provide developers with actionable feedback on ways in which they can improve the speed or quality of their output through their modern development tools. Access to personalised performance metrics will enable developers to measure their successes, learn from problems they’ve encountered, and identify where they can adopt new, more efficient methods to improve their output in the future.
However, to truly empower their developers, organisations must give them more of a sense of ownership and responsibility for their output. Traditionally, organisations had a Dev team and an Ops team; after developers wrote code, they would hand it over to a QA team for testing and an operations team to deploy. However, this can slow down the speed of innovation, due to lengthy intervals between code handoffs and the challenge of needing to involve multiple teams to identify and rectify the cause of any problems. It can be far more efficient if developers have the capability to promote their own code through testing and into production. This empowers developers by giving them a more strategic, central role in how the business delivers services to customers.
Recipe for success
Developers are the core driving force for enterprise innovation, so creating an environment that empowers and enables them to deliver new digital experiences faster is crucial. Mainframe-powered organisations must therefore equip their development teams with the tools they need to work confidently and successfully across all platforms. Fostering a customer-centric mindset is also key to enabling a system of continuous development and improvement, which is ultimately what will enable organisations to not just survive, but thrive in the digital-first future.
Stuart Ashby is DevOps specialist EMEA at Compuware
Start-ups receive $60 billion investment, smash 2020 record
Start-ups on the continent have raised a massive 43.8 billion euros ($60.9 billion) in just the first six months of 2021, according to figures from Dealroom, surpassing the record 38.5 billion euros invested last year..
This is despite the fact that the number of venture deals signed so far is around half the amount agreed in 2020. Only about 2,700 funding rounds have been raised so far this year, compared to 5,200 last year.
Prime examples in times of change
Examples are Swedish buy-now-pay-later firm Klarna which has raised more than $1.6 billion in two financing rounds, the German stock trading app Trade Republic received $900 million in May and British payments provider Checkout.com snapped up $450 million at the start of the year.
The figures suggest that European tech firms are pulling in far larger sums of money per investment than in previous years, which defies the economic uncertainty of the pandemic and boosted online services enormously.
The CEO of Checkout.com, Guillaume Pousaz, said start-ups have often been created in times of crisis, citing the emergence of several new financial technology companies in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis.
He added that big transformational change was often the time when there is the emergence of a lot of new start-ups, sometimes when people are losing their jobs for associated reasons.
UK leading the charge
Scale-Up Europe, a group that includes the founders of UiPath and Wise, proposed 21 recommendations to help the region build “the next generation of tech giants.” Among the suggestions are tax credits to corporates for investing in start-ups and regulatory changes that adapt to new innovations.
Sebastian Siemiatkowski, CEO of Klarna, said the U.K. leads Europe when it comes to tech policy, and that there were a number of regulatory issues needing to be addressed before the European Union can produce tech giants of its own.
Siemiatkowski highlighted EU regulation of web cookies as an example of “poor regulation.” Yet, as the number of $1 billion start-ups in Europe continues to grow, the number of exits in the continent is also increasing.
This year has already seen some notable acquisitions, including Etsy’s $1.6 billion purchase of U.K. fashion resale app Depop and JPMorgan’s takeover of London robo-advisor Nutmeg.
As for stock market listings, a number of notable debuts have taken place in London in particular, including food delivery app Deliveroo, cybersecurity firm Darktrace and reviews site Trustpilot. Money transfer giant Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, plans to go public in the U.K. capital soon.