You probably know what happened to Blockbuster, right?
As the dominant movie rental service in the 90s and early 2000’s, Blockbuster was the market leader, seemingly indefatigable. Until the great disruptor, Netflix, hit the scene. By 2010, Blockbuster had filed for bankruptcy and that was pretty much the end of that.
Why is this relevant here?
Blockbuster, like many business giants (think AOL, Atari, and Kodak), disappeared from our lives because they failed to adapt to market and technology forces.
Don’t doubt for a minute that constant change is an unstoppable process, deliberately, or by force of nature, it will continue to come upon you. If you’re a Hilton and you don’t adapt, Airbnb will eat you up. Just like Netflix crushed Blockbuster.
But adaptation is hard, especially in larger, established enterprises. Businesses get comfortable with a way of doing things and develop workflows, processes, hierarchies, and even job descriptions around classical ways of thinking about project management, product development, and even sales and marketing.
Most of these practices hinge on inflexible and often dictatorial approaches. Leadership dictates what staff should do, business actions are conducted in siloes, employees are rarely empowered and lack accountability or ownership. The result is that the “doers” in an organization adhere to their job descriptions, do what they are required to do, then hand it off to the next person. Total transparency, frequent communication, and input from all stakeholders are erratic, undisciplined, and sometimes simply lacking. In this model, errors are realized too late, collaboration is absent, and the end-product doesn’t align with business needs. It’s often all about short-term gains over long-term success. The latter is especially true for public companies.
Businesses can’t afford to work that way anymore. But how do you adapt? Is there a way to transform your management style, procedures, and workflows to keep pace with change, meet client demands, and beat the competition? There is. But it requires an “Agile Manifesto”.
What Is Agile and How Can It Help Your Business?
Agile is a term used in the IT world that describes a process of software development that stresses cross-functional collaboration over siloes, adaptive planning, early delivery, and continuous improvement. At its heart, Agile is still a relatively new way of managing projects. It requires a change in corporate culture that blurs the lines between departments and roles.
That’s fine for IT, but what could this mean for the wider business? Well, an Agile approach to non-IT projects and workflows can break down company barriers and produce faster, more relevant results.
How does it do this?
To answer this question, let’s step into the software development world for a moment. Agile software development methodology flips the traditional approach to product development on its head. Instead of lengthy up-front planning and design, Agile breaks work into small increments and short timeframes. During this period team members come together to report on what they did the previous day towards their iteration goal; what they’ll do today; and any impediments that may be in the way to that daily goal.
Feedback and collaboration is key and encouraged. Team members are empowered to make suggestions about how things can be done differently and prioritize tasks more efficiently. Through constant adaptation and improvement, Agile teams can more quickly respond to changing needs, address problems as quickly as they arise, and iterate towards a higher quality product – giving customers (internal or external) what they really need, not just what they think they wanted at the start of the project.
How to Embrace an Agile Manifesto Outside IT
These very same principles of Agile software development can be applied beyond IT. Whether it’s a marketing campaign, sales cycle, or hiring process, if you think of your goal as a product and your stakeholders (managers, leaders, etc.) as customers, Agile can be applied to any business process.
Consider the inefficiencies of the sales process. From a management perspective, there are many sales pipelines to manage, customers come and go, and failure rates are high. Meanwhile, vertically-aligned sales reps work diligently on their own pipeline and only report successes and failures during regular checkups. Why is this a problem? Because it excludes them access to the wider knowledge base of the organization – from the power of someone else’s network, influence, or connections. It’s that old silo problem again.
How can an Agile workflow help the sales process? Here at EastBanc Technologies, we use Scrum, a subset of Agile, as a project management tool and have also extended it successfully into our sales cycle.
Our Agile manifesto for sales centers on four key values:
Agile + Sales = A Win, Win
In practice, an Agile methodology applied to the sales cycle could look something like this:
Consider a scenario where a sales executive is working a deal to sell five software licenses to Hilton (let’s call the deal his “product”). Working iteratively, she identifies her first goal or Minimal Viable Product (MVP) – to identify 10 contacts inside Hilton and sell one license. Applying the Agile methodology, she divides this goal into five iterations or (to use the proper Agile terminology) “Sprints” over the course of five weeks.
But she doesn’t do this in a silo. Agile is defined as the meeting of cross-functional teams, where everyone helps shape the first goal and works towards it. She doesn’t “sprint” alone, instead she meets on a regular basis (daily and weekly check-ins) to discuss progress, next steps, and impediments.
During these sprints, it may emerge that Hilton is not the best target. Why? During a meeting of the Scrum team, it transpired that a department head has a relationship with someone at Marriott that could lead to an introduction to a decision-maker and make the competing hotel chain a better target.
Could this have been achieved outside an Agile methodology? Possibly. This is just one example of how Agile can help align teams around success. But the point is that the possibilities for shared insights, actions, and collaboration are limitless. Through constant iteration and adaptation, the product or deal is refined and a successful outcome is brought closer to bear.
A Two-Step Plan to Adapt Agile Across your Business
Of course, business transformation isn’t easy. Change can send chills down the spine of even the most forward thinking leaders. It takes careful planning and willingness, which, of course, starts at the top.
As with all big changes, make a pledge to roll-out your Agile manifesto incrementally. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Shoot for quick, achievable goals. Once results start coming in, the rewards will speak for themselves and adoption will follow.
Here’s a simple plan you can implement:
Step One: Define Weekly Sprints. Hold a weekly Sprint Planning Meeting for planning and retrospective purposes for each goal (end-product). Think of this as an opportunity to define the incremental tasks to be executed that week.
Be careful to only select as many tasks as can be completed during the sprint and build plans and strategies needed to deliver the end-product (whether it’s a sale, a new business partnership, etc.).
The team in this meeting should include cross-functional stakeholders – the sales owner (VP of Sales), sales team, your management team, and the Scrum Master (CEO or equivalent whose role is to remove hurdles). Together the Scrum must assess if the goal is too ambitious, if anything needs to be pushed back, and adjust goals as needed.
Each week everyone on the team should commit to at least one action that can help the business achieve its first goal under the newly adopted Agile methodology.
Each sprint will reveal something new that will inform the next sprint. Rinse, and repeat this step each week.
Step Two: Hold a Daily Scrum Meeting. This is a brief daily status meeting (15 minutes) in which team members synchronize their work and progress and report impediments to the Scrum Master. Set a recurring time for the meeting (9:00 AM in the same conference room) and make attendance mandatory.
Each team member should respond to three questions only:
The meeting should not digress beyond the answers to these three questions into issues, hierarchies, discussions of problems, etc. The Scrum Master is responsible for moving the reporting along briskly from person to person.
During the daily Sales Scrum, limit the floor to one person at a time so they can report his or her status. Everyone else listens; there are no side conversations.
When a team member reports something that is of interest to other members or requires assistance, any team member can immediately arrange for all interested parties to get together after the Daily Scrum to set up a meeting.
Adapt or Fail
This is Agile simplified. But it’s an iterative process that works. Through the process, you’ll agree on a realistic goal, the measures it takes to achieve it, you may even tweak the goal as new information emerges. This doesn’t always mean you’ll reach your goal faster, but you will correct mistakes earlier, adjust as you go, and realize a more sophisticated and successful end-product.
In its roots, Agile is about transparency. By engaging cross-functional stakeholders throughout the process, expectations can be set and teams become more invested in outcomes. But it’s more than that, because everyone is involved, from the leadership team to a sales rep, a feeling of being a part of something concrete and meaningful takes root:
For the wider organization, the transformation is palpable. Because Agile depends on tight collaboration across cross-functional teams, knowledge share is optimized and a greater common understanding is achieved.
And, of course, the business gets what it needs, not what it wants. Only through an Agile process do real customer needs come to the surface through a process of continuous iteration and collaboration. Stick to the old way of doing things – accountability with no authority, a lack of transparency across teams, etc. – and you’re missing an opportunity to leverage internal knowledge and autonomy for the greater good.
Agile or Bust
We’re in an age of Digital Darwinism. Technology and the way we work, live and play is changing so fast that businesses are struggling to adapt. Agile is one way of doing so. No matter the size of your business, Agile is a proven investment that can help you adapt to today’s changing business landscape, rather than react or be disrupted by it. Think Netflix, not Blockbuster.
Questions or comments? Contact us here to continue the conversation.
DevOps built-in flexibility allows development teams to work at a level that suits their resources and skills without being held back by departmental barriers.Read more
Artificial Intelligence (AI) – the capability of a machine or piece of software to display human-like intelligence – permeates our daily lives, often in ways we do not notice.Read more
Data-driven software touches our lives every day. Sometimes, it is in ways you see, such as when you check your Twitter feed, pay for your bus ticket or order your latte using your phone.Read more
EastBanc Technologies is recognized on CIOReview’s list: “Most Promising Microsoft Azure Solution Providers.”Read more
In this article, we’re going to dig a bit deeper into AI-implementation. We will take our airline use case a step further, and we will describe a specific example of how EastBanc Technologies solved a particularly challenging problem through AI and machine learning.Read more
If your organization provides a product or service -- which applies to just about any business on the planet -- you, too, can benefit from Artificial Intelligence (AI). While implementing AI may sound daunting, it doesn't have to be complex or expensive. This article covers the basics of AI and looks at some easy-to-explore use cases.Read more
Digital transformation is about opportunity and survival. Businesses that transform digitally gain a significant competitive advantage.Read more
Part 2: Best practices for modernizing your company’s IT infrastructure to ensure innovation success.Read more
Best practices for modernizing your company’s IT infrastructure to ensure innovation success.Read more
Learn how machine learning engineers and data scientists collaborate and roll out models faster and with ease using Azure Machine Learning.Read more
What is DevOps, what are DevOps practices, and how do you implement DevOps? Your FAQs answered.Read more
Refactor, rewrite, or leave as is? Learn when and how to bring your legacy systems up to speed with modern application development practices.Read more
Learn how technology can better meet your business needs with this foundational understanding of how software and system architectures work.Read more
Ready to embrace AI? Explore why cloud computing is the best infrastructure for your AI model, not on-premises.Read more
Software is a strategic differentiator that can catalyze digital transformation. Organizations are investing in technology, such as modern cloud services, to drive efficiencies and increase the customer experience. To make this a reality, it’s essential that business leaders have a basic understanding of business software and applications work and the opportunities they bring.Read more
How an intelligence-driven customer technical support approach can transform your support from a reactive operation to a streamlined, efficient, and proactive operation.Read more
Kubernetes is a popular container orchestration system, but how did it come to be and why, and what role does it play in digital transformation?Read more
Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) is integral to a DevOps approach to software development. But what is CI/CD and why is it key?Read more
This article is the third in a series that aims to demystify data science , machine learning, deep learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) – while exploring how they are interconnected.Read more
2020 has seen profound change in the way we live and work with COVID-19 accelerating the pace of digital transformation. Yet, business leaders are often confused about how to implement one of the key enablers of...Read more
Artificial intelligence (AI), together with its brethren buzzwords data science, machine learning, and deep learning have been around for some time now and are no longer future concepts. Yet misconceptions persist about the true meaning of these terms.Read more
When SUSE, the world’s largest independent open source company, announced its acquisition of Rancher Labs in early July 2020, the industry took notice. Clearly, the Kubernetes management industry is very much alive.Read more
We live in a technology-driven world. Even non-technology companies are seeing their business models increasingly shaped by technology. Led by disrupters such as Amazon and Netflix, those enterprises who recognized opportunities early have found ways to extend the analog experience into a digital one. Even creating new revenue streams that they could never have predicted.Read more
Digital transformation is about delivering core competencies in a digital, automated, and user-centric manner. Driven by data and powered by tech (e.g. cloud, cloud native stack, AI, machine learning, and deep learning), it increases business agility, competitiveness, and enhances customer value.Read more
Let’s start by understanding where DataOps falls in the line-up of current IT methodologies. DataOps is the next level up from ETL (extract, transform, and load) and MDM (master data management systems) in terms of organizing data and processes. It can also be thought of as a methodology that combines DevOps and Agile within the field of data science.Read more
The hotel industry hasn’t changed much in the past decades. While they have introduced some level of digitization such as websites and apps, they haven’t fully embraced digital transformation. Indeed, if things are working fine, why change? Because the next unforeseen disruptor may be right around the corner.Read more
The term “DataOps” has picked up momentum and is quickly becoming the new buzz word. But we want it to be more than just a buzz word for your company, after reading this article you will have the knowledge to leverage the best of DataOps for your organization.Read more
Unstructured text is found in many, if not all business functions, and can become a source of valuable insight. Product reviews will guide your customers’ preferences, customer support chats can identifyRead more
Disclaimer: We have not spoken to a WeWork executive and have no further background information. This is merely a thought experiment to exemplify what digital transformation is about.Read more
In part one of this series, we defined data science and explored the role of a data scientist — including data preparation, modeling, visualization, and discovery. We also introduced the role of a machine learning engineer who closely collaborates with the data scientist.Read more
Big data continues to grow exponentially creating a critical need for solutions that can make sense and extract valuable information from it. For example, the Internet is full of a wide variety of constantly growing text sources— blog posts, forum posts, chats, message boards, item and services reviews, etc.Read more
Kubernetes, the de facto container orchestrator, is great and should be part of any DevOps toolkit. But, just as any other open source technology, it’s not a full-fletched ready-to-use platform.Read more
With the increasing popularity of machine learning (ML), it’s becoming more difficult for data scientists to find the appropriate tools for a specific task and decide on a robust approach. Should they stick to the basics and code everything from scratch or use one of the many pre-built tools that keep popping up on the market?Read more
Blue-green deployments and canary releases mitigate application deployment risk by enabling IT to revert back to the previous version should an issue occur during the release. Switching back and forth between versionsRead more
For those who were still debating whether they should hop on the digital transformation bandwagon, the COVID-19 crisis was a wakeup call, maybe even a slap in the face.Read more
The entire business world is talking about digital transformation. IT leaders, on the other hand, talk about DevOps, cloud native, Kuberentes and containers.Read more
If your organization leverages technology as a differentiator, a DevOps approach to application and service delivery is inevitable. The benefits are just too great.Read more
Digital transformation is one of today’s biggest buzzwords. Everyone is talking about it; everyone wants it. We all know the role technology is playing in enabling businesses to innovate at an unprecedented pace.Read more
The data on big data indicates that up to 60% of analytics projects fail or are abandoned, costing companies an average of $12.5 million. That’s not the result we seek from data lakes. Instead, companies are increasingly finding themselves mired in data swamps that are overfilled and too muddy to offer any useful visibility. Or are they?Read more
We collect data at a mind-boggling pace. In fact, as companies, we’re hoarding it. But what good is data if it can’t speak to us? Fortunately, data complexity can be broken down through design and visualization – the charts, graphs and plots that show trends, outliers and opportunities.Read more
As a company and as a team, our lives at EastBanc Technologies have always been about tackling the biggest problems for the biggest organizations.Read more
Artificial intelligence (AI) surrounds us. It unlocks our phones, creates our shopping list, navigates our commute, and cleans spam from our email. It’s making customers’ lives easier and more convenient.Read more
Nearly every week there’s something new in our industry. The pace of technology is unprecedented, the role of IT is booming, and innovation is part of our DNA.Read more
Technology is accelerating at such a rate that it permeates all industries. In fact, software is the only industry that cuts horizontally across all verticals.Read more
Innovation is a critical part of business. While prioritizing production in general makes sense, the best approaches make innovation a component of the whole production process.Read more
We recently sat down with a large pharmaceutical company to discuss their data analytics projects. What we heard wasn’t a surprise. Three of the four large analytics efforts they undertook last year had failed.Read more
AMS Group is a cohesive group of established companies that provide technology and security equipment to aerospace, defense, and security markets.Read more
A European market leader in online survey and feedback software acquired complementary companies in different Wester European countries, each of which had its own survey platform.Read more
Everyone loves their own data. Collecting it. Analyzing it. Drawing conclusions from it. But often, when you allow departments or business units within your organization to gather their own data, that data isn’t shared.Read more
Gartner predicts that through 2017 60% of big data projects will fail to go beyond piloting and experimentation and ultimately will be abandoned.Read more
Organizations generally understand the power behind analytics, but how do you make it work culturally and technically? We take a look at the barriers to data analytics success and suggest new approaches that buck the system, with dramatic results.Read more
And how to make your next data analytics project succeed?Read more
Container use is exploding right now. Developers love them and enterprises are embracing them at an unprecedented rate.Read more
If you’re making the move to containers, you’ll need a container management platform. And, if you’re reading this article, chances are you’re considering the benefits of Kubernetes.Read more
Wouldn’t it be nice to reach artificial intelligence (AI) nirvana? To have a system that provides real-time, context-aware decisions.Read more
Today’s IT environment is moving and evolving at an unprecedented pace. So, all of a sudden, your 5-year old software infrastructure can look more like it’s 50. To get your software current – and stay there – requires flexibility. Moving to containers does just that. There’s been lots of talk about containers over the past few years – so why aren’t you on the bandwagon yet?Read more
Under pressure to deliver applications faster and ensure 24/7 runtime, organizations are increasingly turning to DevOps methodologies to deliver applications quicker and in an automated fashion. But what tools should you have in your DevOps toolkit?Read more
Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) are the public cloud market leaders, but how do you determine which of them best supports your enterprise's specific needs? For most enterprises, and for the foreseeable future, it’s going to be a multiple answer question.Read more
Big Data. Everyone’s paying for it, collecting it, and talking about it, but what are companies actually doing with it?Read more
The API management market is a hot one. As more organizations make investments in mobile, IoT, and big data, APIs are a core of their digital strategy.Read more
Big data is everywhere. Organizations are being advised to hoard it and do everything they can to derive actionable insights. This article will argue that this approach puts the cart before the horse.Read more
Let’s face it. Organizations struggle with their legacy applications. Even when they still solve some of the business’ problems, they reach a point where they can no longer keep up with market and industry demands.Read more
Let’s flash back to 2000. You’ve survived Y2K and you’re building systems for CRM, inventory, logistics, or data. They’re all state-of-the-art, and get the job done, even if they don’t talk to each other.Read more
It’s a mobile app world, and we just live in it. But for those working on the “next big thing,” there’s a conundrum – everyone knows we should be building apps in HTML, but not every device out there runs it as smoothly as it should.Read more
In technology, everyone likes to talk about “future-proofing.” But even for the most cutting-edge tech, time always catches up.Read more
The future is here. No, we don’t have flying cars or robot butlers – yet – but it’s definitely a digital world.Read more
We’re excited to announce Microsoft Azure support for the Kubernetes auto scaling module, an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications.Read more
You can’t mention enterprise technologies today without getting into a discussion about the cloud. “Are you in the cloud yet?” Why jumping headlong into cloud computing may not be the necessary move for your business.Read more
In the mad rush to move to the cloud, some organizations put the proverbial cart in front of the horse. They’re just looking for the best hosting, the preferred provider, or whatever the rest of the industry is using.Read more
2016 saw momentum in many areas – DevOps, cloud technologies, and big data- at the thrust of innovation. So, what tech predictions will define 2017?Read more
Every month, week, or day, it seems there’s buzz about yet another solution or service that will revolutionize your industry – or more simply, make your life easier.Read more
Apps. Sensors. They’re everywhere. Your phone, your car, your TV, even your refrigeratorRead more
In an increasingly commoditized market, learn how to cut through the noise and forge a cloud strategy that meets your needsRead more
Fleet management is a challenging business. This is particularly true of snow removal services where the dynamics on the ground can change fast and the pressures to perform put fleet supervisors to the test – in the toughest of conditions.Read more
Long before the first flakes fall from the sky many municipalities begin to prepare for the cold, icy, and snowy conditions that inevitably lie ahead.Read more
Fun fact: in 2014, cloud services were already a $45 billion business worldwide, and are expected to grow to $95 billion by 2017. Will you be part of that equation?Read more
Simple is good. Simple is clean. And whether I’m cooking or planning a trip, simple is always better, right? So why do so many companies make user experience (UX) so complex?Read more
Future-ready predictive analysis infrastructures hold the key to gaining insights from data today, and into tomorrow.Read more
Immersive and exciting, Virtual Reality is already part of our lives, whether it’s a plot device in a new sci-fi thriller or the best way to enjoy the latest video games or thrill rides.Read more
Now that smartphones are the most widely used tool for navigating important life activities (nearly two thirds of Americans own one), there’s pretty much an app for everything these days.Read more
If you’re tasked with choosing an API management system, Charles Dickens summed it up best: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”Read more
DevOps: the panacea for all that’s wrong with enterprise IT. Where siloed teams who keep information close to their chest are replaced by agile, transparent relationships between developers and operations and fast and stable workflows that improve IT efficiency significantly and very visibly.Read more
As a technology company focused on complex project integrations that unify legacy systems as well as modular solutions that ensure lasting scalability, we work on a multitude of projects that involve custom software development; packaged, open source, and SaaS software integration; infrastructure setup; and production operations and maintenance.Read more
In an earlier blog we talked about why you need to integrate API management into your business strategyRead more
In a previous release of “What the Tech?” we discussed why you should integrate API management into your business strategy.Read more
Smart cars, smart homes, smart devices. The Internet of Things (IoT) is already transforming how we live. But very soon, the IoT will swiftly extend into the enterprise.Read more
Why you Need to Integrate API Management into your Business StrategyRead more
The promise of big data is, well, big! With terabytes of intelligence at their disposal, organizations can make faster, more accurate decisions, monitor trends, and even predict the future.Read more
Businesses accumulate data, create content, or possess unique business logic—each of which represents an untapped business opportunity. But how can organizations realize that opportunity?Read more
The Internet of Things (IoT) is much more than a consumer trend, it’s rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making.Read more
Content consumption is changing rapidly. With multiple channels and media formats, reaching target audiences is getting harder than ever.Read more
The way in which we consume content is changing rapidly and a few trends have emerged recently that we think will have a meaningful impact on media organizations this year and in years to come.Read more
Building a mobile app isn’t as simple as it used to be. With multiple devices to cater to, development teams must ask themselves a few questions:Read more