Innovation & Automation & InvestmentPersonal development is often viewed as ‘fluffy’, with little relationship to the bottom-line, not something a CIO would hang a vision and strategy on. This Blog series: Brains Are Machines, attempts to demonstrate that the reverse is true. In this second blog, we highlight that despite our rapid innovation and adoption of automation within software development, the need for higher levels of investment in developing people remains.
Technology innovation is rapid, the speed of innovation is accelerating and technology is ubiquitous. So whichever way you look at it, you either need to excel at creating & distributing software or you need to excel at assessing, purchasing and integrating software into your existing architectures, processes, people and culture. And this trend is only going to increase.
So if you were given a strategically critical project this year, i.e. the future P&L of the company depends on its successful implementation and return on investment, who would you trust to deliver it? Would you out-source it? Would you bring in contractors? Or would you give it to your own teams? I.e. Your own ‘machinery?’
If you wouldn’t give it to your people i.e. your brains, your machinery, what does that say about the state of your machinery and your ability to maintain it? What does it say about your capabilities for creating a team or organisation that meets the needs of the business?
Furthermore, what is the reason for not trusting your machinery with the job? Lack of knowledge? Lack of capability? Or lack of capacity?
Some of your competitors are now able to deploy enterprise-level, mission-critical applications on a daily basis. Through Continuous Delivery  (an encapsulation of many agile practices) the business can ask for a change, have it designed, developed, tested and deployed live, on an enterprise scale within 24 hours if required.
Test-driven development, continuous integration, automated acceptance testing, automated environment provision, automated configuration, automated load & performance testing, automated application and database deployments enable this capability…
Each of these individual innovations has removed many manual processes from the value stream of creating and delivering software, and the effect has been to rapidly reduce cycle time to market. These innovations implemented in concert, represent a fundamental shift in software development capability and capacity. Continuous delivery is starting to incrementally evolve business models.
But even accounting for this automation and reduced cycle-time, you still need people to establish and maintain that capability… The brains are the machinery, and are needed to write the automated tests, configuration and deployment scripts, to design the environments to be automatically provisioned and to establish the continuous integration process, as well as design and write the code.
And you’ll need resources to take you on beyond this point, adopting the next level of processes and technologies that drive the business forward in this ever-changing technology landscape.
So if the brains of your teams are the machinery of business, if technology is moving so fast, if you’re in a talent war and your people are implementing these technologies or assessing and integrating them… Do you really have the right level of focus on, and investment in the attraction, retention and development of your people?
 Continuous Delivery, Jez Humble & David Farley, Wesley Addison 2010
Steve Garnett is an Independent Software Consultant working with FTSE 100 companies in the UK. With an MBA from Henley, he has previously held positions as Head of IT, and Head of Software Development. Having pioneered the first Scrum project in the UK over a decade ago, Steve is considered an expert in Agile & Lean practices.