I developed a passion (or obsession?) for accelerating the development and delivery of new capabilities when I served as Amdocs’ CIO between 2016 and 2019. When I first took the helm, I could only react to our customers’ requests when they came in.
Everything was on fire and needed to get done yesterday. No matter how fast I turned things around, IT was the reason customers weren’t getting what they wanted. That was frustrating, to say the least — I could only deliver as fast as the system and vendors allowed!
But the experience also helped me realize that staying reactive wouldn’t take us very far. Developing technologies and solutions takes time, and we must anticipate our customers’ needs to stay ahead.
So, I talked to people on the business side. I asked them, “if everything goes smoothly, what will this look like? What would you like to see in 3 years?” Then, we started planning what we needed to do on the IT side to fulfill the vision.
Today, many of my customers are CIOs of global enterprises. I can feel their pain. Developing new capabilities takes time, but who can wait a year! What can we do to help our customers run as fast as they can, so technology doesn’t become the bottleneck?
Responding to shifting needs in an Uncertain business environment
Planning – planning ahead – sounds good in theory. But what if the customer doesn’t know what the market will look like in a year, three years, or five years? That’s more common than you think!
Serving as Amdocs’ CIO, I developed an approach that allowed us to simultaneously address our customers’ day-to-day challenges and help them set the stage to get to where they want to be in 3 years. We adopted agile development and engaged vendors who could respond quickly to shifting requirements.
Then, I took on a new challenge within the company. Building on my IT and CIO experience, I was tasked to build a new service delivery organization and help Amdocs become more stable in its operations within an increasingly fast-paced environment.
Now, as the president of the Global Delivery Division and the CTO of Amdocs’ Service Group, I am not only leading the organization to run transformation in a smooth and agile way using DevOps practices,
I am also envisioning and developing what we like to call the “next gen developer”.
This approach requires extensive experience in the complete product development and operations lifecycle, as we bring both sides together to build a mechanism that allows us to run fast while operating effectively.
Agile mindset: The foundation for delivering value
The agile methodology has many nuances, but at its core, it allows us to focus on delivering the most value to our customers every step of the way within a short timeframe.
When I ran my first marathon at the age of 17, I asked my trainer how to do it, and he said, "one foot at a time." The agile mindset is very similar — instead of wondering what to do at the last kilometer, we focus on doing our best in the next. And then the next and the next to make progress.
This approach gives us the freedom to be flexible about the result. After all, business is changing faster than software development processes. If we put our heads down to work on a project for 2 or 3 years, we could end up with an irrelevant or obsolete product.
Being agile helps us better manage customer expectations and turn from order takers to collaborators. We’re exploring the future together instead of defining what it’d look like prematurely, only to end up with something irrelevant a year later.
By adopting DevOps and setting up a continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline, we shorten delivery timeframes from months to 2-4 weeks and less. We have multiple teams working on a rolling backlog, so we don’t have to plan everything months ahead.
We continue delivering outcomes based on changes in business requirements and customers’ needs. We make frequent and incremental improvements and validate them in the market to create tangible outcomes while sustaining the momentum.
With an end to end, consolidated team, working in a versionless mode our customers can quickly respond to changes in the market. When they need to launch a new feature, we can get it done in as short as 2-3 days.
Without speed, new capabilities become obsolete
New capabilities and speed must go hand in hand to drive business success. Without speed, the “new” becomes “old” in a New York minute.
If you conceive a new feature, take it through the traditional development process, and plan for a release 6 months later, two things happen:
- The capability will no longer be new, and
- You’d have lost many customers already because they’d move to a competitor who offers the same capability sooner.
In today’s market, telcos introduce new services every week. Our goal is to support our customers to bring new capabilities to market through system development, service delivery, provision, packaging, etc., just as quickly.
Companies have only days to respond to consumer demands, innovate ideas, and bring them to market. If your customers don’t get the features they want, they move to another provider. You need a mechanism to support the high development and deployment velocity and stay relevant.
The good news is that we have access to many new technologies to speed up innovation and service delivery. Cloud platforms and edge computing play a key role. Everything is software-defined, so customers only need to download an upgrade to access new features.
Additionally, we can test new features with different customer segments or run various configurations of a service to deliver a personalized experience. We can set up a feedback loop, make improvements, and decide what to roll out.
Our capabilities allow us to increase the speed to market while addressing diverse customer journeys.
We can ask the right questions and get the most relevant input from the right people. We build the structure to support the pace, and the pace grows the business.
The next big thing is already here
After seeing the revolution unfold over the past 20+ years, I have learned a few things that can help companies continue to succeed in the new market landscape.
Most importantly, we must approach innovation with a different mindset — we aren’t simply doing things the old way, but faster. Agile isn’t the waterfall method on steroids, and cloud isn’t renting hardware from other people. We aren’t developing software — we’re solving business problems.
While we pride ourselves on having 40+ years of experience in the industry, our teams aren’t slowing down. We’re transforming Amdocs into a cloud- and next gen DevOps-native company to help our clients scale up and stay relevant.
Market dynamics push for higher service reliability, improved quality and shorter time to value – ushering in not only a change in the way we operate but, most importantly, in the way we think.