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Bridging the Gap of Innovation and Expectations

Keeping with the pace of change

With the rapid changes in today's technology, users have nearly become desensitized to the constant stream of new updates, and the "wow" factor is increasingly harder to achieve. This has placed pressure on businesses to release flawlessly executed new updates on a variety of essential devices -- cars, medical devices, and household goods -- much faster, and in each case, the embedded software is as crucial as the exterior.

In the mobile space, for example, users today are less likely to upgrade their smartphone at the rates they once did. In fact, UBS AG recently conducted a study that found 68 million people in the US had upgraded their smartphones, down more than 9% from last year.

So what's really changing? The gap between the latest set of cool features and real innovative breakthrough is growing, and it is driving businesses to accelerate the time it takes to deliver software.

There has always been a fine balance of releasing too quickly versus not quick enough, but with users demanding more value from their technology experience, this challenge is becoming more relevant and plaguing many organizations today.

Delivering a software or feature update doesn't mean organizations need to start from scratch -- budgeting time and thinking about what works and what doesn't in their development efforts is where it begins.

Many companies have started on the track to deliver software in shorter, faster iterative cycles using agile methodologies, but for many, the fundamental principles of breaking down the silos across development, testing and operations to continuously deliver software faster remains a chore.

The DevOps movement -- a new evolution that encourages cross collaboration across IT teams -- is to identify which processes can be standardized and automated. DevOps encourages teams work in short, iterative cycles, standardize on a development framework and automate processes that will in turn enable teams to focus on what product features to include in the next release that will "wow" the users.

In the case of mobile companies, focusing on what innovative features to include in the release may be the catalyst that encourages consumers to look beyond service agreement contracts and upgrade their smartphones.

How businesses respond to changes in the market is more important than ever, especially with the changing technology and requirements from users. By implementing a continuous delivery model, companies are able to plan effectively and quickly respond to market changes and demands, which can give them a competitive edge. It also allows them to reduce the risk of each change as software development teams collaborate effectively in sprint-like models.

In continuous delivery, teams need to be agile while working together. A few fundamental, yet key principles that help foster collaboration include:

Commitment to communication. It's critical that stakeholders across the teams communicate as often as possible. Tools that foster collaboration, like Skype, allow for real-time communication between teams. There is no excuse to miss a meeting or catch up with various stakeholders at each step of the process.

Automate as much as possible. By having an architectural framework in place for how the teams work, software developers will be able to automate as much of their development processes as possible, and catch bugs as they happen. This ensures that teams can confidently march forward with a task (and have the flexibility to alter the course as needed at later stages) without experiencing the hours or days of unnecessary disruption that will result in missed deadlines.

Operate in a standardized framework. To truly estimate the time needed to deliver software, teams need to standardize the development process where possible. An agile framework can provide the team with the guidelines so progress can be measured quickly, and teams will be able to ascertain if they will realistically meet deadlines and deliver the best quality software on time.

Delivering any product release takes good planning and discipline, but delivering a genius product that the average user can't even perceive, is even more rewarding. By communicating frequently, automating development processes and working in a standardizing framework, organizations will be able to accelerate the delivery of quality software and narrow the value gap users are looking for in the market. Real innovative breakthroughs are thoughtful and impactful. Getting them into the hands of users is the game-changer.

More Stories By Anders Wallgren

Anders Wallgren is Chief Technology Officer of Electric Cloud. Anders brings with him over 15 years of in-depth experience designing and building commercial software. Prior to joining Electric Cloud, Anders held executive positions at Aceva, Archistra, and Impresse. Anders also held management positions at Macromedia (MACR), Common Ground Software and Verity (VRTY), where he played critical technical leadership roles in delivering award winning technologies such as Macromedia's Director 7 and various Shockwave products. Anders holds a B.SC from MIT.

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