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The new IT “you” – coming back from Covid leaner and meaner

Gary James
August 25, 2020

Over the past few months, a colleague and myself have been working with Everest Group in exploring the broad and enigmatic topic of the future of applications. We live in a world where technology – if used correctly – can be a major disrupter. So, we set out to really distil the essence of this and how we could better help our customers disrupt and dominate their markets. Our initial discussions coincided with the start of the ongoing pandemic, which, after a short pause, has given us the opportunity to better focus on this question and consider its wider implications.

In our recently-published joint paper “The future of applications – unlocking value through next-generation applications,” we look at how the latest technologies are being used, the opportunities that they provide, and common pitfalls to watch out for. The focus of this blog is to show how you can avoid some of these pitfalls.

I firmly believe that Covid will be a “meteorite” moment for the way companies utilize IT. These chaotic times are also providing an opportunity for those who are more nimble and agile to find new niches that add value and evolve away from their competitors. Many of our customers (most likely all) are responding to unprecedented challenges and their already-high expectations for IT have now gone even higher. And they’re looking to applications to satisfy these heightened expectations.

Apps on, apps off: protecting in a crisis and thriving in the future

These heightened expectations also require applications to be more responsive. They must be truly responsive in a “switch-off,” crisis response sense as well as a “switch-on”, future change sense. This ability to respond is not simple and requires a different way of thinking that impacts the many layers of the architecture and ways of working. The opportunities that “As a Service” capabilities offer must now be accelerated. In addition, insights must become intelligence – and this must be embedded within applications. The analytics market is highly structured, which often leads to fragmentation and inertia to get to the holy grail of intelligence. While recent events have shown that it’s now time to simplify and focus more on business value.

As a market leading provider of ADM services that help many global organizations to deliver the latest technologies, Capgemini’s ADMnext brings an Agile, incremental development process that helps clients address these rising expectations. However, many times when I speak to client CIOs and CXOs, I realize that their biggest inhibitor in addressing these higher expectations is not a lack of desire or intent for exploiting these future applications. Mostly, it seems more to do with the availability of the right talent.

This might come off sounding like a criticism of our valued customers – “they don’t have the right people for this.” However, the emphasis is on “availability” and not the “right” people. Many of our customers’ best people are currently tied up supporting legacy, keeping the lights on, or following single-speed delivery processes, thereby inhibiting their ability to work on these new applications. The pandemic has exasperated this situation, as the natural response to this crisis has been to batten down the hatches and ensure resilience.

The right people in the right place: leaving a legacy and focusing on the applications of your future

The first pitfall to avoid here is to not restrict your best people by leaving them to manage your legacy. As we all look to rebound from the crisis, the best people should be focused on how exploiting the latest applications can help the organization. A new way to support legacy should be considered – so you can come out fighting but also choose the right battles. The question to consider here is whether it’s time to move towards a model where all legacy is supported by a small number of partners with a clear alignment on business outcomes in order to release best people to focus on your future. Many customers have already positively decided that it is – and are moving forward with the process.

Building out your people to build out your future

The second potential pitfall is not investing in your talent in the right way. As IT people, we often talk about how technologies evolve and develop. We also talk about how products improve and how upgrades deliver more value. We know that 73% of enterprises are investing in new intelligent automation solutions, but training investment will often be focused on the more tangible gaps in skills around the software instead of building the tacit, softer skills of how to exploit it within your people.

Not focusing investment in skills in strategic areas such as ways of working, new approaches, etc., can lead to suboptimal use of future applications. Also, it’s important to realize that this is not necessarily just training. From working with many customers on this journey, we see this as a transformational change exercise that should employ the same level of thought and rigor as transforming the procurement function requires, for example.

So, whilst the post-Covid future overall is still unclear, it’s apparent that we need to be leaders to make our own futures successful. The future of applications holds many opportunities for our companies to rebound strongly from this crisis but making the right choices in where to invest in talent, and the partners that can help bring the best talent, are essential.

Get in touch with me here and let’s speak more about the future of applications and how you can ensure you have the right talent.