Application Services provides a platform for IT Development and Maintenance professionals to discuss and gain insights into best practices, process innovations and emerging technologies that will shape the future of this profession.

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November 27, 2012

The CIO mandate: Transform

Posted by Chandra Shekar Kakal
Senior Vice President, Global Head of Business IT Services and Member - Executive Council, Infosys Limited

Recently, Infosys was selected as sole partner by one of Europe's top insurers to run their strategic IT services; but with a difference. We are contracted to help them, over a period of 7 years, not just with IT activities but to transform and execute allied customer-facing operations as well. This was followed by a similar move by a consumer products giant. They struck a 5-year deal with us not just for application maintenance, but to manage all their indirect procurement and business processes, in 15 different languages, impacting customers across 100 countries. These are not just two stray instances. I can clearly see the trend....

Adopting Agile in Insurance - The Dos and Dont's

Posted by Dheeraj Keswani

 

Agile Development has the potential of delivering a much better end product and truly change the way business and IT collaborates.  It enables IT to develop multiple iterations of a prototype for a long term project with more business stakeholder visibility as the project evolves, as well as the ability to introduce changes as business or IT deems fit.

That being said, rushing in to implement agile methodology is definitely not a great idea. You really need to be planned about the entire approach, also be very clear of the desired results that you would like to attain. In line with the same, recently I came across a very smart and short post, 'Agile Methods In Insurance', talking about how insurers were failing to make Agile Development work for them. The blog post captured a few critical pointers on how Agile implementations can be made successful in the Insurance industry. I strongly believe that it is relevant to anybody and any organization planning to embark on the journey of Agile Development.

November 23, 2012

What's ailing Application Management today?

I am huge fan of Formula 1. The similarities I see between this sport and the business world are uncanny. In high speed F1 there is no space for a slow moving car or a wrong turn or wrong strategy. Every mistake is punishable, and sometimes life threating. But one thing that it truly teaches you is that the guy first off the block needn't be the one who finishes first....

Similarly in business, losing out is not tied to adopting new technology or to changing business demands. Rather, when you look at it, the problem lies in the mindset that today's IT organizations harbor. Often, IT departments are content with incremental improvements, excited by the promise of faster, cheaper and better solutions. Additionally, innovation gets limited in favor of cost.

While business has been quick to transform itself and align to the ever-changing needs of end consumers, IT lags in replicating this for its business stakeholders. IT desperately continues to talk 'SLAs', while business has moved on to 'outcomes', IT still speaks about 'efficiency', while business has moved to 'effectiveness', IT continues to harp about 'value to come', whereas business is demanding 'value today and now'.

Essentially, IT thinks incremental, while business is screaming for a quantum leap in value delivered on all fronts. So, if I were a CIO, the question that I would be really asking myself is how can I make possible such a quantum leap in value delivered? How am I really going to transition from being viewed as a cost center, to being viewed as a true business partner?

If these questions or thoughts have started to cross your mind, then your days of being limited by incremental improvements are soon to be over.  For you, the race has just begun.

November 21, 2012

Driving an Automobile called Agile

Created by Raghunath Angara

Principal Consultant, RCL, Infosys Limited

 

CxOs today are feeling the pressure to build dynamic companies which can easily adapt to the rapidly changing markets, customer demands and technologies. Their quest for minimizing overall risk, improving quality and reducing production time has made Agile Adoption a part of their organizational goals....

Adopting Agile is, however, a little more complicated than turning on a switch. It is analogous to switching gears on an automobile.  The transition from low gear to high gear is gradual and needs synchronization and dexterity of manipulating the vehicle. Starting from the business drivers, need & commitment of the low gear to the scaled & distributed High Performing Teams of the top gear, the adoption journey takes into account various factors that emphasize hanging mindsets, roles & responsibilities and responses to unforeseen events. Like manual shifting automobiles, Agile adoption too could become complicated very easily, be intimidating and unappealing to inexperienced groups or organizations, and has learning curve. Upon successful adoption of Agile most organizations go into an overdrive mode which allows them to perform at sustained velocity with little or no overhead.

The organizational objectives of high returns on investment with minimal marketable features and total satisfaction can all be easily accomplished or achieved through successful adoption of Agile methods, using the gear shifting analogy. In such a phased approach it becomes easier to track and monitor progress in terms of costs, benefits, satisfaction and collaboration - essentially returns on investment and technical debt.

Global companies tend to focus heavily on the distributed element of Agile methods. The various flavors of Agile, combined with different levels and mechanisms for global distribution, provide organizations with a plethora of options which can be tailored to their specific business needs. Whether distribution occurs within a single geographical location or includes temporal distribution and boundary, the underlying concerns of communication falling through the cracks and process noncompliance play a major role in the successful adoption of Agile methods. Most of these options depend on the structure of the distributed teams and the extent to which they are independent, empowered and self-organized.

In summary, the art of adopting agile in a distributed environment is to gradually shift from the low gears of evaluating the available options to the higher gears of tying these options to the business goals.

Now that we have understood this, let's drive Agile successfully across our respective organizations.