Jennifer Thomson of IDC Research Discusses Trends, What to Watch For in 2020

Written by: Samuel Fell

5 min read

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Senior European Research Director for App Delivery expounds upon her enterprise investment and transformation strategies as transitions into modern application architectures continue.

The CloudBees team is coming off of a wonderful conference where almost one thousand of our friends, partners and customers ascended upon Lisbon for DevOps World | Jenkins World .

One guest that we were thrilled could join us was none other than Jennifer Thomson , who leads the Accelerated App Delivery Practice for IDC Research in Europe, as well as the DevOps Research Innovation Council -- scheduled to reconvene in January 2020.

We were able to catch up with Jennifer before and during the show to discuss her views on the state of software delivery, where DevOps is headed in the future, which DevOps domains of expertise enterprises need to focus on the most in the coming year, and why.

Sam Fell: You talk to a lot of companies and do a lot of empirical research around modern application architecture and software delivery. What are the trends you saw occurring (or did not occur that you expected to) in 2019?

Jennifer Thomson: Over the last year, IDC found that European organizations fully embracing DevOps can push out innovation at 50-100 times the frequency of traditional approaches. However, speed and velocity are great, but if organizations don't link this back to the business and look at what actual business value they are delivering, efforts to accelerate DevOps will be fruitless. As a result, an increasing number of European organizations are infusing value-based and outcome-based thinking across development, operations and engineering teams. The focus is on getting small teams working in a different way, all with the goal of delivering better value sooner.

In 2019 there was a 360% increase in the number of organizations that link DevOps teams to business outcomes. However, while progress has been made, there are still three in four organizations that don't measure the business value delivered. As a result, a wide number of organizations remain challenged in proving the business value of DevOps. This is a clear area of improvement, particularly given that business stakeholder integration and ownership is identified as the top process bottleneck to accelerate app delivery.

Throughout the year, strides were taken to get the underlying framework and foundation right to support DevOps and accelerated app delivery. This included a focus on tooling (simplification), behaviors, agile versus traditional approaches, the transition to modern app architectures, legacy integration, automation-led strategies and changing, adapting and fine-tuning CI/CD metrics that support maturity. Last but by no means least, a heightened focus on the governance to successfully strip out excess “stuff” in the architecture.

Sam: Very interesting! We’re seeing similar data from our customers, which is why CloudBees is investing in Software Delivery Management. What other trends are you looking ahead to in 2020 and beyond?

Jennifer: Moving into 2020, there are some key themes defining investment strategies supporting accelerated app delivery and enterprise-scale DevOps. Firstly, DevOps process, governance, monitoring and management move firmly to the top of long-term strategic investment priorities. There is clear realization that to enable DevOps to become business as usual, organizations must re-think how products/services are funded, governed and made compliant, but also consider tool complexity, culture, organizational goals and sourcing models.

Secondly, short term investment can be tied to this notion of operating more like a software company and the ability to tame complexity while gaining real-time insight. Prioritization is on API management, reusable in-house and external components, security integration and data quality, and transition to modern app architectures. We expect to see an increasing number of European organizations embrace cloud native architectures as they look to master working at scale. Business value creation, iteration at speed and the ability to lower the cost of experimentation fuel demand for cloud native initiatives. A less tangible, but critical dimension, is learning how to foster a culture of innovation, with over half of European organizations committed to measuring and driving cultural change in the next 12 months.

Thirdly, 2020 is still all about automation, with a core focus on injecting automation into the overall DevOps pipeline and moving towards a unified automation strategy. While organizations are slowly progressing, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Currently, only one in 10 organizations have achieved continuous integration with automated build and release management. We expect to see an acceleration in the number of organizations that embrace the principles of continuous integration and deployment, and that prioritize automation and tool pipeline improvement.

Looking at the number one automation rationale, this is tied to the ability to support ambitions to deliver apps, including cloud native apps, via hybrid and multi-cloud environments. Multi-cloud automation, orchestration and self-service portals will have a significant impact in supporting future IT and DevOps needs. However, we identify a gap between ambitions and current capabilities to execute on multi-cloud strategies, with most organizations only just starting to address the automation of on-premise and public cloud infrastructure environments.

Sam: Automation continues, I see. So, what are the subject areas or domains of expertise, if you will, that you think enterprises will need to focus on the most, and why?

Jennifer: In my view, it always comes back to culture. Recent research from IDC shows that 40% of European organizations identify culture as the weakest link to achieving enterprise agility, and I already underlined that more than 50% of organizations will focus on measuring and driving cultural change within their organizations in the next 12 months. The cultural challenge is multi-dimensional that transcends collaboration, customer engagement and feedback, continuous learning, metrics and KPIs, and business vision and leadership.

Many organizations address the DevOps and enterprise agility challenge primarily from a technical point of view, but when agility is confined to the tech or IT alone it brings no value. Organizations need to embrace a “dare-to-try” attitude and have the confidence to execute and drive change. Those organizations getting it right are seeing that development, operations and engineering teams are becoming cultural change agents.

Sam: Thank you so much, Jennifer. This has been extremely helpful and we appreciate your insights. Tell us all what you have going on in 2020...

The European Accelerated App Delivery team will be focusing on four core areas of research as we move into 2020: DevOps at scale; modern application delivery; automation strategies; open source and open development culture. We will be hosting our European DevOps and developer predictions call in January, here is the link to register (see below).

IDC FutureScape: European Developer and DevOps Predictions

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