What are HR’s Important New Roles in Uplifting Digital Transformation

CIO and IT leaders are frustrated about “not having a seat at the table” when the executive committees debate important strategic decisions.

But when I speak to CHRO, human resource leaders, learning and development officers, and HR IT specialists, they question why they aren’t directly involved in digital transformation strategies.

It’s a big, strategic miss when CIOs leave out HR or only request human resources to take on administrative responsibilities and tactical assignments.

HR Uplifting Digital Transformation

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Commit to Simple Agile Principles and Collaborate on Meaningful Self-Organizing Standards

 A few weeks ago, I suggested three questions that could spark a discussion and debate over your organization’s agile principles. But I didn’t go as far as suggesting example principles or practices in defining them.

I believe every organization applying agile methodologies across multiple teams needs to define their agile ways of working – optimized to their business’ mission, goals, culture, constraints, operating geographies, regulations, and other factors. Creating self-organizing standards and principles is a way to engage team leaders in documenting repeatable and continuously improving guidelines. 

From Agile Principles to Self-Organizing Standards

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5 Ways Transformation Leaders Help Their Teams Feel Safe During This Holiday Season

Tis the season to feel scared for tech jobs. According to Layoffs.fyi, as of today (Nov 20, 2022), 849 tech companies have laid off nearly 137,000 jobs in 2022. This list includes the well-publicized Meta, Amazon, and Twitter layoffs and over 75,000 jobs lost in the San Francisco Valley.

Help Teams Feel Safe

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DevOps at SMBs: Three Important Considerations that Differ from Large Enterprises

I recently started a new program called Coffee with Digital Trailblazers on LinkedIn. We typically meet on Fridays at 11am ET and discuss a selected topic on leading digital transformation. Two weeks ago, we chatted about how to become a Digital Trailblazer, and this past week we discussed DevOps in SMBs and nontech companies.

DevOps for SMB: Isaac Sacolick Simplifies

Note: Because of my travel and holiday schedule, the next episode of Coffee with Digital Trailblazer is on Tuesday, November 22 at 11am, where we’ll discuss the topic: Developing Your Business Acumen. You can also subscribe to the Coffee with Digital Trailblazer Page to find the link to the next episode.

I’ve written about how SMBs are different when driving digital transformation compared to tech companies and large enterprises. Generally, SMBs have similar challenges and must develop technology advantages versus competitors, improve customer experiences, become more data-driven, innovate digital offerings, reduce tech debt, and secure the business – but without the same budget, skills, and process maturity found at many tech and large enterprises.

SMBs must transform, but with different tools, simplified processes, faster decision-making, strategic partnerships, and great leadership.

I was joined on stage by two amazing expert colleagues and dear friends, Joanne Friedman and Sarbjeet Johal, and we discussed insights for SMBs looking to mature DevOps practices. Here’s a summary.

Identify DevOps practices that quickly demonstrate business value

CI/CD and automating deployments get the lion’s share of attention on DevOps practices because it helps tech companies and enterprises deploy apps more frequently, efficiently, and reliably. That’s because tech companies and enterprises have the resources to develop cloud-native (and proprietary) microservices, applications, and other tech capabilities.

But SMBs? They’re developing and modernizing many more apps than a decade ago, but not always in proprietary code. Many SMBs will look to configure SaaS, integrate with iPaaS, leverage low-code tools, and deploy no-code to citizen developers as alternatives and often better options than developing proprietary software.

Joanne told the story of a manufacturing client that implemented infrastructure as code (IaC) as their first DevOps practice. SMBs looking to move apps to public clouds have many benefits by automating the infrastructure rather than using manual and often poorly documented procedures.

The key lesson is that SMBs should seek the DevOps practice that yields the greatest benefits. IaC, monitoring, AIOps, GitOps, or another DevOps discipline may be a better first step than CI/CD.  

DIY DevOps or seek an MSP? SMBs target sustainable DevOps 

Once one or more  DevOps practices are prioritized, SMBs can either build the skills and best practices internally or seek outside help. Sarbjeet suggested that for some of the more technical areas around supporting cloud infrastructures, configuring Kubernetes clusters, or managing security, SMBs may be better off with a managed service provider (MSP).

Sure, SMBs can hire or train for these skills, but there’s considerable knowledge needed in implementing architectural best practices. If the configuration requires ongoing support and is likely to change, SMBs may achieve results faster and have lower ongoing costs by partnering rather than using a do-it-yourself approach. 

Another reason to consider MSPs is the difficulty of retaining engineering talent. Whereas enterprises can have a team of engineers focused on any DevOps practice area, that’s less likely in SMBs. If only one or just a few engineers understand how to debug a CI/CD pipeline, update an IaC script, or add new alerts to a monitoring tool, then that’s a risk SMBs should address early.

Sustainable DevOps implies that lifecycle management is considered early in the engineering process. Tech teams at SMBs avoid fancy tools or complex implementations, knowing that even if they successfully deploy them, they will be hard to maintain. A minimally viable solution is more important than a robust, generalized, and highly extendable implementation.

Research DevOps tech fit for SMB adoption

SMBs may not want to embrace top quadrants, waves, and ratings from analyst firms that primarily target large enterprises. SMB leaders must go deeper into the ratings and review which companies of similar industry, size, and complexity have short and long-term success implementing solutions under consideration.

Some gotchas:

  • Platforms that require significant configuration and programming 
  • Tech that requires significant training before getting started or requires professional services
  • Pricing that’s out of reach for SMBs or requires significant scale for reasonable discounts
  • Roadmaps that target large enterprise complexities that have little value to SMBs
  • User experiences that are too cumbersome for SMBs with less time to waste

So yes, DevOps is important for SMBs, but the roadmap, tools, and practices will likely differ from strategies that large enterprises employ.

Coffee with Digital Trailblazers
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From Keynotes to Confident Aha Moments: Three Questions to Discover Your Agile Principles

This story follows the style and writing from my book, Digital Trailblazer. If you enjoyed reading this post, you’ll love the book.

I am close to completing my keynote at ETx Canada, a conference for Canadian CIOs, CISOs, and DigitalTrailblazers, and developed in partnership with the CIO Association of Canada. We’re in Kelowna, British Columbia, about a five-hour drive from Vancouver, but only a short distance to wineries, lakefront views, dozens of hiking trails, and challenging ski slopes. My kind of place.

Digital Trailblazers at nGage ETx Canada

The attendees prefer to keep their distance and sit at the back tables away from the stage. It’s a safe play because, should I bore them, they can shift their attention to their phones without guilt. So I speak from the floor, with lights blinding my vision, but with some more room to maneuver. Making eye contact and seeing the attendees’ reactions is hard, and I can’t glance at my slides to keep track of my storyline.

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3 Ways CIOs Can Target Sustainability Goals in Digital Transformations

It was once a sacrilege to even talk about tearing down Yankee Stadium, the house that Ruth built, and building a new and better version.

But that’s exactly what the Yankees did in 2009, joining scores of other owners and city governments to rebuild stadiums to improve the fan experience and increase revenue – and also targeting longer-term sustainability goals.

3 Ways CIOs Can Target Sustainability Goals in Digital Transformations

One of Yankee Stadium’s ecologically intelligent measures is the natural cooling and ventilation in the stadium’s great hall entryway, controlled by automation technologies designed to identify and eliminate wasted or inefficient energy use.

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Why AI-Search is a Digital Transformation Force Multiplier During a Recession

Are we heading for a recession?

I’m not an economist. I’ll let these professionals forecast and characterize the state of global economies and the financial markets. What I do know is that senior leadership will budget through 2023 based on how the economy and competitive pressures impact their industry and businesses. 

AI-Search - a Digital Transformation Force Multiplier

Experienced CIOs, CTOs, and CDOs (chief digital and data officers) will plan their digital transformation budgets, roadmaps, and priorities accordingly. There’s still pressure to deliver customer-facing innovations, reduce technical debt, and modernize employee workflows. CXOs (CIOs, CTOs, and CDOs) need to be creative about what investments, platforms, and initiatives they prioritize.

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