What follows are some takeaways from their conversation. (You can watch the rest here.)
Blaine: For those that haven’t heard of Avaya, tell us a little bit more about what its solutions are.
Chris: Avaya has a long, long history stemming back from Bell Labs. If you go back in time, AT&T divestiture went on and Avaya was a spin out of AT&T specifically focused on voice over IP in the contact center space. We are one of the world’s largest manufacturers of enterprise and SMB telephony platforms. We service premise customers, we service cloud customers, and we build the largest contact centers in the world.
Blaine: You recently published a really interesting blog post about the importance of culture and digital transformation and the relationship to the role of dev ops. I’d love to hear more about the thesis of your blog post and obviously it will encourage people at the end to read it in full. But, tell us more about your thesis.
Chris: Yeah! I appreciate that.
When we think about how consumers have been “consuming technology”, it’s not been based on that annual release cycle. As soon as it’s ready, with whatever feature or features, are coming out.
I think we’re going to see that transformation happen in enterprises. Some of our largest customers today are trying to determine how best to leverage the dev ops style mentality for their own delivery of enterprise applications. I think we have to do the same thing as a manufacturer in moving in that particular direction.
Blaine: Who should fundamentally own digital transformation in the organization? Is it the IT side or is it more the business or operations side?
Chris: That’s a great question and I think there’s a lot of blurry lines on the answer to it because, depending upon the type of organization you are, it may be the business driving that, it may be the IT driving it. But what I would say is that it has to be a very tight partnership between the two because so much of it involves the information technology executives and/or staff who helped deliver that application, if you will, to market.
It also has to be a transformation in the business from what they expect, how they expect it, and how they consume it. It really is a partnership between the two of them.
“The world is rapidly evolving around us and if we aren’t capable of transformation, we will get stuck.”
– Chris McGugan
Blaine: It’s interesting how, as businesses keep evolving to be more digital in nature, the notion of IT versus operations blurs.
You’ve been Avaya a few times now, have you had any experience in terms of how the company has been able to digitally transform itself in the last few years and what it’s doing? What’s going on in the digital transformation of your company?
Chris: When you think about digital transformation, I think you really have to think about running a real-time business. Leveraging technology to bring it to the front and center in the core of what it is that you do, the digital transformation has many different faces to a company. It can be anything from driving customer experience and journey in how you interact to how you run back office.
And it’s interesting. When I started back at Avaya, one of the core goals I set forth for engineering was moving towards agile and getting that as a core methodology. One of the first queries that came to me was from my HR organization to say, “When you’re finished building that transformation office for R&D, when can we start to look at back office processes here in the company and transform those to an agile process methodology as well?”.
When I think about that whole notion of digital transformation, I think it really starts to play on every part of the business in different ways and at different times.
Blaine: Yeah absolutely. I fundamentally agree. You brought up a topic which is near and dear to my heart: the notion of turning your business into a real-time business.
When I talk to companies about their digital transformation, whether or not they use the words real time, I think that’s often core to moving out of an old model, old processor, or an old application which was more in batch mentality, the way technologists think about things, toward things happening in real time: inputs coming in, actions being taken as they flow in and around the business.
Do you agree? Is that a concept you are touching on?
Chris: Absolutely. When you look at all that’s going on today, this soup between artificial intelligence, IoT, the notion of big data, and analytics to go with all of these pieces, all of that is driving at that decisioning at a much faster pace. So, it is about getting closer to real time. The world is rapidly evolving around us and if we aren’t capable of transformation, we will get stuck.
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