Warp Speed: Faster Development Cycles Are The New Normal

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There is a renewed focus on risk data aggregation and reporting (RDAR) solutions, as financial ins

At the InformationWeek Elite 100 conference, tech leaders described how warp speed is the new normal when it comes to development cycles. But that's an opportunity as much as a challenge.

Technology makes businesses faster, but people and processes can struggle to adapt. At the InformationWeek Elite 100 Conference in The Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Monday, executive editor Curtis Franklin Jr. led a discussion that explored the ways IT executives have orchestrated technology processes at their companies to keep up with customer demand while maintaining security and quality standards.

Panelists David Guzman, CIO of H. D. Smith, Vivek Shaiva, CIO of La Quinta Inns, and Angela Tucci, general manager of agile management at CA Technologies, agreed that warp speed has become the new normal.

"No matter how fast we are, we're too slow for the market," said Guzman, adding that his organization has reacted to that reality by breaking development tasks down into digestible chunks to focus on delivering new functionality every month. "It's extraordinary what we're able to deliver at that pace," he said.

That's agile development, an alternative to the traditional iterative waterfall approach, and the panelists agreed it has become essential.

"I don't believe you can do waterfall faster," said Tucci. "You have to rethink the way you do software." She said the notion of warp speed describes a business metabolism rather than an external pace that must be kept.

"The old style of operating doesn't work anymore," said Shaiva, who noted that while IT has gotten to the point that it can scale rapidly, business teams are often the bottleneck. Making sure those teams have "skin in the game" gives a better outcome, he said.

[See Agile Analytics: 11 Ways To Get There.]

Guzman observed that flexibility goes beyond the IT organization. "To be truly agile, we've had to extend these concepts through our business," he said, noting that about 10% of his company is now trained in tasks normally associated with IT. For example, business leaders are involved in writing test scripts.

But hyperspeed isn't necessarily a burden. All three panelists said they were energized by the pace of change. "It's a great time to be in the industry," said Tucci.

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