Every CTO is bombarded with calls and emails to meet with a new supplier to discuss the next big thing. But how do you decide which suppliers to meet with? What is the frame of reference you use to qualify whether something would be useful to you or not?
It’s easy and understandable to stick with what you know. If your current suppliers are evolving in accordance with market trends, then they may well be able to give you what you need. But are they evolving fast enough to give you something really ground breaking? Will they be innovative enough to challenge your thinking in a good way?
You are probably receiving a regular diet of insights from the likes of Microsoft and Oracle, but of course, they want to sell you more stuff – including stuff they were selling last year, re-packaged in this year’s marketing message.
McKinsey, Forrester and Gartner are all useful sources of information – but they tend to aggregate current thinking given the nature of their work. You will undoubtedly get a good steer from them, but so will everyone else. Their interpretation of market trends reflected back at the market is not likely to result in a next generation breakthrough, even if useful input.
How open to taking a calculated risk are you? Do you want to do things a little or a lot different this time around? Or are you happy to get the results you always got, by doing things the way you’ve always done them?
Crucially, how will your competitors answer these challenging questions? Are they thinking and doing things the same tried and trusted way, or could you outsmart and outperform them by doing things differently and better in 2017?
Here’s some food for thought based on what we at Ness see in the world of digital platform engineering:
Define the problem statement! Think carefully about the areas within your remit that are most crying out for improvement. Usually it’s obvious what to change, once you’ve listened to your staff and your customers. However, sometimes there are work-arounds in place that were originally conceived as a short-term solution but have now been accepted as the norm. How valuable could an upgrade to the work-around be in terms of improved performance and user experience?
And think about the solution to the problem in terms of the needs of ALL stakeholders. Include some outside-in perspectives in your planning. That means talking to internal and external users about their experiences to hear what they feel. They are usually delighted to be asked and will offer unique and invaluable insights to drive improvement.
If you’ve tried to do this in the past and it’s failed, make a conscious decision to do it differently this time. Engage a different partner to those you have always used in the past. Select a partner who will help think about a solution in the round and who is happy to implement the small but important things, rather than trying to boil the ocean. Small steps are often the best way to start, cost less, and generate the positive feedback and improved experience which will garner management support to do more of the same.
Recognize the nature of the partnership you need. You probably understand your domain better than any third party, so focus on leveraging this as a strength. The right partner should bring a wide array of expertise and experience of having done similar things in other areas. Marry the two together. Don’t tell your partner what to do, and (vice-versa) don’t let them tell you what you should do. True partnership is about a valuable exchange of ideas, and collectively driving towards an outcome based on both parties’ strengths and capabilities.
If you’re a CTO we’d love to talk with you and talk through how our “Connected” approach could help deliver consistent innovative improvements that surpass expectations people have of you and your platform.