Insights

Stop Droning On!

Head of New Media
Valtech

November 14, 2014

Delivery innovation is fine, but do you understand the fundamentals of actually delivering stuff of value?!

So the future of retail is drone delivery is it? Or maybe the Bitcoin economy, 3D printing or in-store iBeacons are the next big thing? Maybe I’m old fashioned, but for my money the average retailer has to conquer the elephant in the room and become even half-way competent with incremental software delivery before they’ll ever be able to turn a buck from more exotic innovations.

Many retailers are still struggling with efficiently delivering, owning and operating an ordinary multi-channel digital estate. Most marketing departments would be ecstatic if making the changes they wanted to digital channels was easy, or if creating amazing new personalised experiences for customers was fast and simple without taking forever or costing the earth. Also, don’t most marketers just wish the complexity of technology would go away, so that they could get on with the fun part of their jobs?

Many retailers are still struggling with efficiently delivering, owning and operating an ordinary multi-channel digital estate

CTOs know that to deliver what marketing teams need, they have to solve the entwined complexity of legacy systems, a complexity that assures a seamless user experience across multiple channels, ensures that applications are easy for internal users too, delivering new projects efficiently – whilst still keeping the lights on with existing applications so that sales continue to roll in. CTO’s know that Agile delivery methods are one of the key strategies of getting this complexity under control – so what’s the problem?

CTO’s know that Agile delivery methods are one of the key strategies of getting this complexity under control – so what’s the problem?

Let me try and explain. Valtech have been “doing Agile” for years, when I joined the company 10 years ago, all of our projects in London were already using Agile methods. Back in 2004 when I asked our customers if they used Agile, most hadn’t heard of the term. But when I asked “do you have these problems in your delivery organisation – and would you like to fix them?” they bit my hand off. 10 years later, these self same problems still exist in many customer’s delivery organisations even thought they have been trying to “do Agile” for ages. So why is that? The main problem is that teams have adopted some of the visible ceremonies of Agile, such as “the daily stand-up meeting” but they are still yet to actually understand how to apply Agile practices.

So what’s the solution to this? This is a blog post, so I’m not going to blather on in detail - with the exception of saying that the single best way Valtech has been able to introduce Agile methods into our clients businesses has been to form blended teams of both Valtech people and our customers’ own personnel. Working in this way, we not only deliver new products, but also enable our customer’s organisation of becoming able to release a continual flow of innovation to market. There’s a bit more to it than that, but in reality this is a relatively easy nut to crack.

Which only leaves a single question to ask. Drone delivery versus Incremental Delivery? Well surely it’s obvious. If you want to innovate, you have to get good at incremental delivery first.

Legacy systems and seemingly slow, or expensive software delivery are the bane of many marketing departments, who would be happy if they could release updates to market