As the internet matured, companies’ online ambitions grew, and e-commerce became part of the business. Increasingly, the online experience fell within the remit of the IT department, and websites evolved into the complex technical landscapes that today take a significant bite out of IT budgets.
And there lies a problem. While marketers see growing opportunities in the digital domain, including adapting messages to individual consumers and fast-moving situations, traditional IT continues to focus on stability and predictability – as it should. This leaves many of our clients facing a struggle to reconcile this difference in speed and purpose.
Fortunately, there have been several developments in recent years that decouple fast business ambitions from the slower pace of IT.
Agile ways of working
Software development teams have used Agile methodologies, such as Scrum or Kanban, for some time. The benefit of Agile is that it lets you deliver working software in small increments, validating hypotheses and proving the value of a feature or functionality as you go. Now, this approach is being used by multifunctional teams that work on technology, user-experience and business-value. And we are even seeing it being adopted by teams at our clients that are not even in the software development domain at all.
As a result, where once clients would ask for everything but the kitchen sink, today the scenario has shifted 180 degrees; they want only those features that will make the product great enough to go live. A Minimum Viable Product. In the design-thinking approach these teams employ, user stories are defined from an end-user perspective rather than an internal one.
Mantra’s like ‘Move fast and break things’ (Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook) and ‘If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late’ (Reid Hoffman – LinkedIn), may be overhyped, but they support an approach based on iterating rapidly through versions of a certain feature, rather than trying to find the gold-star solution at the first try. Nothing beats testing something in real life and getting data and feedback from actual users.
Stick to the standards
The ambition to deliver faster also forces teams to stay closer to the standard functionality of the chosen tools. There simply is no time to think, design, develop and test exotic custom functionalities. This not only reduces the effort required within the project, it also makes it easier to upgrade to new versions, or to swap one bit of software for another.
Best of breed and micro-service architectures
Most modern companies are moving away from monolithic systems that take forever to develop and even longer to change. Adopting landscapes made up of loosely coupled systems makes companies more able to adapt to changing requirements, new business models and the latest technologies. By employing standardized APIs and using systems as intended, companies can create an architecture that functions like a box of Lego; use the pieces you need to build a certain touchpoint or experience, and then change things around based on new insights or ambitions.
The days of physical hardware in the company’s basement or at some distant datacentre, are over. This also means the end of large, upfront investments in hardware and licenses. And whether it is SaaS, PaaS, CaaS or YaaS, consuming services and paying for the actual usage brings the cost of the online landscape into line with the business value it delivers.
At Valtech, we work with clients that embrace these developments. We design, build and run the teams and platforms that allow them to create more value for their end-users faster. Through this, we help our clients bridge the gap between what they can deliver and what their clients expect.
So, if you’re a marketer, you should know that speed is back – and that we are here to help you make the most of it.