Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, TJ Randall

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, @DXWorldExpo, @DevOpsSummit

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Silos Are Dead! Long Live the Silos! | @CloudExpo #DX #Cloud #Agile #DevOps

The problem is that in spite of the all the posturing, no one really wants to kill silos

Silos Are Dead! Long Live the Silos!
Guest post by Intellyx Principal Analyst Charles Araujo

Nothing unites any group of people like a common enemy. And since the move toward digital transformation began - and IT transformation before it - a favorite common enemy has been organizational silos.

It has been an oft-repeated mantra that in order to execute a successful transformation of any kind, the organization must break through the silos that have been the source of dysfunction and obstruction.

Everyone could agree that silos created unnecessary separation, protectionism, and bureaucracy. No one would dare argue that having rigid silos were somehow good for the organization.

Silos were, therefore, the easy target. They became the mantle onto which leaders could lay all past transgressions, and, in so doing, they became a convenient artifice to allow the leader to proclaim the dawn of a new era of integration, collaboration, and communication.

Silos are dead!

Except they never quite died, did they? In spite of all the talk, silos have persisted. They now just have different names. But the danger remains just as real, and their negative impact grows more significant every day.

All New, Old Silos
The problem is that in spite of the all the posturing, no one really wants to kill silos. Silos have become a way for people to identify themselves - particularly when they are trying to set themselves apart in a positive fashion.

So while there may be a common acknowledgment that the traditional silos and their use as a functional management paradigm are a hindrance, we're far from killing silos. Rather, an entirely new set of silos are simply rising to take the place of the old ones.

The most egregious of these new silos has come in the form of the bimodal IT concept, which has promoted a blatant segmentation between the supposed ‘old IT' and the new. Worse, bimodal IT has perpetuated the worst aspects of siloed mentality, cementing the idea that one part of IT was progressive and part of the future while the other was slow and stuck in the past.

But while bimodal may be the most blatant form of a new silo, it is far from the only one. Almost every new approach, strategy, and technology is ripe for creating all new, old silos. Whether it be DevOps, microservices, IoT, big data, or cognitive platforms, every new technology opens the door for some team or group of people within the organization to adopt it as the source of their new identity in order to segregate themselves from the rest of the organization.

On the one hand, this siloed mentality makes sense. The adoption of a new approach or technology requires new skills and specialized domain expertise.

Inevitably, people who embrace the new approach or technology become zealous believers and then naturally start forming formal or informal groups with other like-minded adherents.

Eventually, the organization codifies these specialized capabilities into an organizational function and poof! - we have a new silo. But the problems with silos don't go away just because people have rooted them in some modern technology.

Our Old Nemesis: Tactical Specialization
The reason that organizational silos have continued to persist is that even as everyone talks about digital transformation being this fundamental transition in the way organizations operate, few people seem to actually believe it.

Under the banner of digital transformation, organizations have changed the technology they use, where they deploy it, and how they manage it. They have created new organizational functions, new roles, and new titles. In some instances, they have even changed the metrics and how they measure their performance.

But few organizations have actually changed how they fundamentally structure themselves or how they operate.

This fact is certainly true within IT, but it is just as true throughout the entirety of the organization. Sure, everyone talks about the need to become a ‘digital enterprise' and how every company is now a technology company, but beyond all the talk, not much has actually changed.

Rather than taking a strategic, holistic, and systemic approach to transforming the organization, business and IT leaders have settled for incremental and tactical approaches. As a result, these so-called transformations have centered on our old nemesis: tactical specialization.

The history of IT - and really, the history of the modern enterprise organization - is joined at the hip with the idea of tactical specialization. Nearly every organization in existence has structured itself around the idea that they must create centers of specialization in order to create operational efficiencies. This idea is as old as the Industrial Age - and now just as obsolete.

For organizations to truly transform, they must finally break through this inbred siloed mentality and strategically reshape and restructure themselves to compete in the digital future - a future in which it is not efficiency, but rather agility, speed, and customer-centricity that create value.

Two Old Ideas to Create the New Digital Enterprise
Making this much more fundamental transformation is fraught with risk and challenges. That's why so few have dared to take it on.

But while re-envisioning how an organization operates requires courage and political capital, enterprise leaders don't have to make it all up. In fact, the inspiration and playbook for such an organizational re-imagination already exists in two fairly well-established concepts: design thinking and systems thinking.

A cadre of both business leaders and academics have already written volumes on these two topics - and each deserves in-depth study - so I won't get into their specifics here. (Although if you're looking for a place to start, you should begin with Stanford's d.school design thinking virtual crash course and Peter Senge's seminal book on systems thinking and creating learning organizations, The Fifth Discipline.)

These two ways of ‘thinking' are critical for organizations that wish to authentically transform themselves, because they demand a reorientation of the entire organization.

Design thinking shifts the organization away from an internally-focused and process-centric orientation to a human and customer-focused, value-oriented orientation.

Likewise, systems thinking forces an organization to change the operating perspective from one of functional efficiency to a holistic perspective that assesses efficiency and effectiveness only at a systemic level, where the enterprise operates as a complex system of systems.

The Intellyx Take
As enterprise leaders apply these two approaches at an organizational level, it becomes almost impossible to accept either mere incremental ‘transformation' or the continued existence of silos. Instead, the natural outcome of applying these principles at an enterprise level is the emergence of an entirely new set of organizational characteristics.

This new ‘Digital Enterprise' will be inherently customer, value, product, and project-centric. As such, functional organization by technical specialization will be inefficient and no longer sustainable.

Instead, the organization will manage its human, capital, and contractual resources dynamically to deliver its products, projects, and value to its customers. To do so, teams made up of internal employees, partners and, in many cases, customers, will self-organize (to varying degrees) to ideate, conceptualize, develop, and bring a product or service to market - and then disband just as quickly after it has run its (much shorter) course.

To be frank, these new methods of structuring and operating are largely untested and still in experimental stages within those brave enterprises willing to lead the pack. As they continue to test these ideas over time, however, the best new approaches to structuring and managing organizations will emerge.

However such transformation turns out, one thing is clear: the structure of those organizations that not only survive this period of rapid disruption, but which thrive in it, will look nothing like the industrial age dinosaurs that are the standard today. They will be fluid, dynamic organizations that are entirely oriented around the customer and operate at a systemic level.

And there is one other thing you can count on: there won't be a silo in sight.

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. Intellyx publishes the Agile Digital Transformation Roadmap poster, advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives, and helps vendors communicate their agility stories. As of the time of writing, none of the organizations mentioned in this article are Intellyx customers. Image credit: Leaflet.

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is a leading IT industry analyst, Forbes contributor, keynote speaker, and globally recognized expert on multiple disruptive trends in enterprise technology and digital transformation. He is ranked #5 on Onalytica’s list of top Digital Transformation influencers for 2018 and #15 on Jax’s list of top DevOps influencers for 2017, the only person to appear on both lists.

As founder and president of Agile Digital Transformation analyst firm Intellyx, he advises, writes, and speaks on a diverse set of topics, including digital transformation, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, devops, big data/analytics, cybersecurity, blockchain/bitcoin/cryptocurrency, no-code/low-code platforms and tools, organizational transformation, internet of things, enterprise architecture, SD-WAN/SDX, mainframes, hybrid IT, and legacy transformation, among other topics.

Mr. Bloomberg’s articles in Forbes are often viewed by more than 100,000 readers. During his career, he has published over 1,200 articles (over 200 for Forbes alone), spoken at over 400 conferences and webinars, and he has been quoted in the press and blogosphere over 2,000 times.

Mr. Bloomberg is the author or coauthor of four books: The Agile Architecture Revolution (Wiley, 2013), Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (Wiley, 2006), XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996). His next book, Agile Digital Transformation, is due within the next year.

At SOA-focused industry analyst firm ZapThink from 2001 to 2013, Mr. Bloomberg created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011.

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting), and several software and web development positions.

CloudEXPO Stories
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the public cloud best suits your organization, and what the future holds for operations and infrastructure engineers in a post-container world. Is a serverless world inevitable?
The deluge of IoT sensor data collected from connected devices and the powerful AI required to make that data actionable are giving rise to a hybrid ecosystem in which cloud, on-prem and edge processes become interweaved. Attendees will learn how emerging composable infrastructure solutions deliver the adaptive architecture needed to manage this new data reality. Machine learning algorithms can better anticipate data storms and automate resources to support surges, including fully scalable GPU-centric compute for the most data-intensive applications. Hyperconverged systems already in place can be revitalized with vendor-agnostic, PCIe-deployed, disaggregated approach to composable, maximizing the value of previous investments.
Wooed by the promise of faster innovation, lower TCO, and greater agility, businesses of every shape and size have embraced the cloud at every layer of the IT stack – from apps to file sharing to infrastructure. The typical organization currently uses more than a dozen sanctioned cloud apps and will shift more than half of all workloads to the cloud by 2018. Such cloud investments have delivered measurable benefits. But they’ve also resulted in some unintended side-effects: complexity and risk. End users now struggle to navigate multiple environments with varying degrees of performance. Companies are unclear on the security of their data and network access. And IT squads are overwhelmed trying to monitor and manage it all.
Machine learning provides predictive models which a business can apply in countless ways to better understand its customers and operations. Since machine learning was first developed with flat, tabular data in mind, it is still not widely understood: when does it make sense to use graph databases and machine learning in combination? This talk tackles the question from two ends: classifying predictive analytics methods and assessing graph database attributes. It also examines the ongoing lifecycle for machine learning in production. From this analysis it builds a framework for seeing where machine learning on a graph can be advantageous.'
With more than 30 Kubernetes solutions in the marketplace, it's tempting to think Kubernetes and the vendor ecosystem has solved the problem of operationalizing containers at scale or of automatically managing the elasticity of the underlying infrastructure that these solutions need to be truly scalable. Far from it. There are at least six major pain points that companies experience when they try to deploy and run Kubernetes in their complex environments. In this presentation, the speaker will detail these pain points and explain how cloud can address them.