Qatar Today - - INSIDE THIS ISSUE - BY YASIR AFIFI Tech­nol­ogy and Dig­i­tal Ad­vi­sory Man­ager KPMG

The chal­lenge for to­day's IT in­dus­try is that the mod­ern user de­mands that dig­i­tal ser­vices are ef­fort­less, self-ex­plana­tory and com­bine mod­est, yet en­gag­ing as­cetics.



It was with a mix­ture of amaze­ment, de­light and pride that I watched as my 18-month-old child un­locked my phone, se­lected the YouTube ap­pli­ca­tion, browsed un­til he found a video he liked, skipped the ad­vert af­ter five sec­onds and sat down to en­joy a video of...chil­dren play­ing.

I was con­vinced that I had bred a ge­nius who could op­er­ate a com­plex de­vice be­fore even be­ing able to ut­ter a sen­tence to the world. When I started boast­ing about my child's su­pe­rior tal­ents, I was swiftly hum­bled by the fact that his dig­i­tal ca­pa­bil­i­ties were, in fact, merely av­er­age and that it was ‘ nor­mal' for chil­dren to know how to use tech­nol­ogy to watch these types of videos. In fact, some can even use cam­eras to take self­ies and the per­sonal as­sis­tant, open­ing to them a new world of ad­ven­ture.

It oc­curred to me that the real ge­niuses in all of this are the peo­ple who en­gi­neered an ex­pe­ri­ence which was so in­nate that a child who could hardly walk, talk or even go to the bath­room in­de­pen­dently, could op­er­ate their de­vice with rel­a­tive ease.

What be­came even more ap­par­ent is just how our chil­dren have new ex­pec­ta­tions of re­al­ity; the new re­al­ity of cus­tomers. This has evolved to a de­gree where con­sumers, what­ever their age, de­mand a per­son­alised ser­vice, wher­ever and when­ever they are ex­posed to an or­gan­i­sa­tion, all in an exquisitely sen­sory, sat­is­fy­ing way. Sim­i­larly, e-govern­ment and other on­line ser­vices are no longer seen as a value-added lux­ury, but an ex­pec­ta­tion.

The chal­lenge of per­son­alised ser­vice

Pro­vid­ing each user with a per­son­alised ser­vice, based on their needs, pre­vi­ous be­hav­iours and a cal­cu­lated judg­ment on what they might want to do, is one of the great­est chal­lenges for the mod­ern-day or­gan­i­sa­tion. In Qatar and else­where, whether the user of a prod­uct or ser­vice be­ing of­fered is ex­ter­nal or in­ter­nal, what the cus­tomer de­mands is sim­plic­ity. Users are de­mand­ing that dig­i­tal ser­vices are ef­fort­less, self-ex­plana­tory and com­bine mod­est, yet en­gag­ing as­cetics.

To cre­ate sim­ple, in­nate sys­tems and ways of work­ing re­quires a shift in mind­set and cul­ture, and a trans­for­ma­tion in the

pro­cesses, ca­pa­bil­i­ties and governance used to de­liver dig­i­tal ser­vices. IT de­part­ments need to move up the value chain, take a lead­er­ship role and un­der­stand that, with­out them push­ing to de­fine the vi­sion and strat­egy of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, there is no way to meet the ex­pec­ta­tions of cus­tomers. The fact is that, if they do not adopt nim­ble ways of work­ing and de­liver ex­cep­tional dig­i­tal ser­vices, or­gan­i­sa­tions run the risk of be­com­ing ir­rel­e­vant. At a swipe of the phone screen, cus­tomers can switch sup­pli­ers, com­pare prices and share neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ences with thou­sands of oth­ers.

The chal­lenge is that the IT de­part­ment (and its ca­pa­bil­i­ties, or­gan­i­sa­tion, governance, pro­cesses, tools and tech­nol­ogy, i.e., op­er­at­ing model) is of­ten set up as a back-of­fice sup­port func­tion, which as a re­sult is not ready to be a strate­gic busi­ness part­ner to the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Meeting the chang­ing re­al­i­ties of to­day

In mod­ern IT de­part­ments, to de­liver ex­cep­tional dig­i­tal ser­vices and keep up with the com­pe­ti­tion, the IT op­er­at­ing model needs to ac­count for func­tions, ca­pa­bil­i­ties and tech­nolo­gies, such as en­ter­prise ar­chi­tec­ture, user ex­pe­ri­ence and cus­tomer jour­ney, data sci­ence and an­a­lyt­ics, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, ma­chine learn­ing, and cy­ber­se­cu­rity. How­ever, be­fore all of this, IT de­part­ments need to un­dergo a par­a­digm shift to free up re­sources and fo­cus on the ‘value-add' ac­tiv­i­ties. The whole point is to en­gi­neer an ex­pe­ri­ence that, although may be com­plex in tech­no­log­i­cal terms, oozes sim­plic­ity to the cus­tomer and users. Un­der­pin­ning this is a phi­los­o­phy and cul­ture of close col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween soft­ware devel­op­ers and IT op­er­a­tions – DevOps – to be able to push out ser­vices seam­lessly and ef­fi­ciently.

In most or­gan­i­sa­tions, devel­op­ers en­sure ser­vices are ready for de­ploy­ment whilst IT op­er­a­tions de­ploy these ser­vices. How­ever, there is pres­sure on both sides and col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the two func­tions is of­ten lack­ing. By in­te­grat­ing the two teams, and im­prov­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity by au­tomat­ing pro­cesses, an or­gan­i­sa­tion is able to push new ser­vices to cus­tomers to meet their ex­pec­ta­tions in a much more pro-ac­tive fash­ion.

To meet the evolv­ing dig­i­tal needs of Qatar's pop­u­la­tion it is im­per­a­tive that or­gan­i­sa­tions in­crease the rate of soft­ware de­liv­ery and time to mar­ket. An ex­am­ple dis­play­ing Qatar's dig­i­tal so­phis­ti­ca­tion is the Me­trash2 ap­pli­ca­tion, which al­lows users to ac­cess a mul­ti­tude of ser­vices from re­new­ing res­i­den­cies to sell­ing ve­hi­cles at the touch of a but­ton. Another ex­am­ple is the ‘one-stop shop' con­nected banking ex­pe­ri­ences so com­mon in the Qatar mar­ket, where cus­tomers can check bal­ances, pay elec­tric­ity, wa­ter and mo­bile phone bills, send money abroad, apply for loans, track spend­ing, and con­nect with bank rep­re­sen­ta­tives, again at the touch of a but­ton.

By in­te­grat­ing (ven­dor or in-house) de­vel­op­ment teams and IT op­er­a­tions teams in a DevOps-ori­ented model, busi­nesses and or­gan­i­sa­tions po­ten­tially re­duce de­ploy­ment times from weeks and months to hours and days. Us­ing and em­bed­ding a DevOps phi­los­o­phy, an or­gan­i­sa­tion will have the abil­ity to un­lock some of the fol­low­ing ben­e­fits: Re­duc­ing the time to mar­ket and in­tro­duc­ing rapid de­vel­op­ment cy­cles: based on the new re­al­ity be­tween de­vel­op­ment and op­er­a­tions, it takes less time to jump from engi­neer­ing code into ex­e­cutable pro­duc­tion code Free­ing up re­sources for value-add ac­tiv­i­ties: through the au­to­ma­tion of the labour-in­ten­sive pro­cesses needed to de­ploy code into the pro­duc­tion en­vi­ron­ment, whole teams are able to fo­cus their ef­forts on ac­tiv­i­ties that add value Enabling con­tin­u­ous ser­vice de­liv­ery: rapid de­vel­op­ment cy­cles mean that code is re­leased into pro­duc­tion quicker and the gap be­tween re­quire­ment build­ing and re­lease into pro­duc­tion can be re­duced dras­ti­cally De­ploy­ing higher-qual­ity soft­ware: by hav­ing a more man­age­able code­base, and in­creas­ing the col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween teams, de­fects can be de­tected and re­solved more rapidly Be­com­ing ag­ile: through im­proved col­lab­o­ra­tion and co­or­di­na­tion, de­vel­op­ment per­mits in­no­va­tion whilst op­er­a­tions brings it into pro­duc­tion By im­ple­ment­ing this par­a­digm shift, an IT de­part­ment can move up the value chain and act as a strate­gic part­ner to help de­fine the or­gan­i­sa­tion's evo­lu­tion, help­ing to meet the ex­pec­ta­tions of the con­stantly con­nected cus­tomer and re­duce the risk of be­com­ing dis­con­nected and ir­rel­e­vant

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