Accelerate State Of DevOps Report: Q&A with Dr. Nicole Forsgren, DORA CEO

Written by: Electric Bee

5 min read

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Last week, DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) and Google Cloud announced that they would be working together to conduct original, in-depth research to understand what issues matter most to developers. With the Accelerate State of DevOps Report (ASODR) , DORA and Google Cloud aim to unlock findings that give their customers (and the entire industry!) a clear path forward with guidance to improve resource management, productivity and quality of their IT teams.
If you haven’t already done so, take the survey now! It only takes about 20 minutes, and your input will help to shape the future of the movement (and you could win $500, an iPad, tickets to DOES, or DevOps books from our partners at ITRevolution!)

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As many of you may know, Dr. Nicole Forsgren (CEO of DORA) and Gene Kim (General Partner of DORA) are both strategic advisors for us here at CloudBees. We are keenly interested in their work, and were quick to sign up to sponsor the survey this year!
We sat down with Nicole a few days ago to get her thoughts on DevOps, DORA, and the work that she does.

Q:Tell us a little about your background and how you got interested in data science?

I started my career as a mainframe programmer, and then moved into work as a software and hardware engineer at IBM. I always appreciated how analyzing work and logs using data and numbers helped me find better answers, and especially helped me communicate those answers to teams and leadership in more effective and powerful ways. Once I went to my PhD program, the power of data became even more apparent, as I conducted ethnographic studies to identify patterns in people’s work, I was drawn to the use of data to understand what things were predictive of success across broad types of teams and organizations. That is, what things that I found could be extended to other contexts? Data and statistics -- data science -- really help us with that.

Q:What is DORA, and how did it get started?

DORA is DevOps Research and Assessment, and it was co-founded by myself, Jez Humble and Gene Kim. Our mission is to help technology organizations improve the productivity of software development and delivery through scientific research. We do this through our research -- most notably our annual State of DevOps Report, in the past, conducted with Puppet, and this year in collaboration with Google Cloud, and also through other research projects, including academic peer-review. We also offer assessment -- helping organizations to measure where they are in their technology and DevOps process, how they compare against the industry (since we do have an industry-standard database of over 23,000 data points from around the world, spanning all industry verticals), and most importantly, helping them to identify the best place to start their technology transformation so they can accelerate and get to value sooner.

Q:What is one of the most interesting things you learned in (4?) years of doing this survey

Wow - there are so many! I loved learning that technology really does drive organizational outcomes like profitability, productivity, and market share. For years, the research didn’t back this up, but it’s because we were doing technology “wrong’ -- that is, we were just buying a technology solution, plugging it in, and walking away, hoping to see magnificent returns. News flash: it doesn’t work that way. It takes “tech plus”: technology, process, people. We need to be all-in to really reap the rewards and get ahead of our competitors. I mean, if it was really as easy as buying something and getting ahead, don’t you think everyone else would have done it by now, too?

Q:How / why did your partnership with Google come about?

I was really excited to join forces with another team that is so dedicated to driving excellence through technology, and with a foundation in research and data. When I started talking with the group at Google Cloud about the DORA research philosophy and strategy, there were a lot of smiles and heads nodding, and I thought “hey, something really great could happen here!”

Q:What else does DORA do, besides this publicly available survey?

We’re always looking for ways to help communicate value and drive transformations, and do this by sharing information. In addition to the State of DevOps Reports, we released two white papers last year (one on the ROI of DevOps and the second on building a cloud in the federal government ) and the book Accelerate this year, which compiles the last four years of research and adds the science behind our work and a case study from Steve Bell and Karen Whitley Bell. And of course the commercial Assessments, which offer a very customized look at where an organization is in their own technology transformation.

Want to help Nicole and the DORA team “rub science” (her expression, not mine!) on DevOps patterns and processes to find out what makes them click?

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Dr. Nicole Forsgren is an IT impacts expert who is best known for her work with tech professionals and as the lead investigator on the largest DevOps studies to date. She is a consultant, expert, and researcher in knowledge management, IT adoption and impacts, and DevOps. In a previous life, she was a professor, sysadmin, and hardware performance analyst. She has been awarded public and private research grants (funders include NASA and the NSF), and her work has been featured in various media outlets and several peer-reviewed journals and conferences. She holds a PhD in Management Information Systems and a Masters in Accounting.
@ nicolefv | Website

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