According to the latest thinking by Gartner, DevOps teams are about to get displaced in the enterprise by FUSION teams.
Many firms pursuing distributed delivery are using “fusion teams” to bring together IT and business employees to develop digital solutions. As fusion teams become more prevalent, enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders must actively support these blended, multidisciplinary teams.—Gartner Enterprise Architecture Research Team, Feb 2020.
The term Development Operations (DevOps) has been on the lips of Digital Officers and CIOs for the past three years. This team of SCRUM crazy tech wizards has been charged with driving digital transformation project forward in double quick time. But, according to Gartner, that world is about to change—and 2021 is likely to be the year it happens.
The Enterprise Innovation Factory
Customers are ever more online, remote, discerning, and seeking personalised experiences. Moreover, they want to be in control of their purchasing experiences, call the shots, not be kept waiting, and they want answers when they seek them.
Technologies like Machine-Learning and Artificial Intelligence, sensor networks (the ‘Internet of Things’), blockchain, AI-driven conversational chatbots, virtual and hybrid reality, and 3D modelling are transforming customer value and experiences.
Every business needs to harness the potential of digital technologies to surprise and delight their customers, and stay competitive. That requires tech teams who can be the ‘tip of the spear’ and lead the charge. Someone somewhere needs to understand the hyper automation journey and what the outcome looks like from a tech-stack perspective.
The rapid pace of change in technologies and tools has left many traditional IT teams disorientated and confused about their role (i.e, ‘Do you want me to focus on upgrading our apps, displacing legacy systems and keeping the lights on or not?).
The solution for many organization has become what’s known as two-speed IT. Put another way, it’s about parachuting a new team of tech experts to create a Development Operations team that is equipped with the right skills blend and tech tools to implement agile developments. That was good 3-years ago, but today—IT’S STILL TOO SLOW.
The Challenges of Coding
The pace of digital evolution is now SO SWIFT that there’s not enough time to code the majority of apps anymore. A growing demand for short-cuts and code block re-use has popularized the use of Low-Code tools that make coding faster. These solutions, while useful, haven’t done anything to remove one of the fundamental challenges of application ideation: That is the barrier that exists between IT and the business when you use code and script.
At one time, any applications design and deployment technology that didn’t show the appropriate amount of love for the art of coding would be shunned by businesses as being ‘amateur stuff’ that wasn’t ‘enterprise-grade.’ Practitioners in the art of coding would argue that any tech platform not focused on the needs of the coder was deemed unable to cater for the vast array of requirements modern enterprise apps dictate. They even had a name for these enthusiastic amateurs—‘Citizen developers.’
That isn’t true anymore. In the past decade, cloud-based technologies have transformed the potential of Platform-as-a-Service ecosystems to support the design, deployment and operation of applications—all achieved without coding.
Fusion Teams—Bringing ‘IT’ and ‘the Business’ Together
These new tools enable Business Analysts to scope and design solutions, removing the ‘deep technical’ duties from the task of authoring an application. That means business people and tech people can build apps in real-time in workshops without having to create a SCRUM or run off into back-rooms to code.
While the technology is transformative, it’s taken some time for organizational designs and cultures to adjust to this new reality. FUSION TEAMS are the emerging solution to that challenge.
’Multidisciplinary digital business teams — or “fusion teams” — are critical to success in digital transformation. Progressive CIOs foster rather than fight the rise of the distributed digital delivery model and maximize value by focusing on the human aspects of managing digital business risk.’—Gartner CIO Research Team ‘Fusion Teams: A New Model for Digital Delivery, 2020.’
How Does a Fusion Team Work?
A Fusion Team is a cross-functional project team brought together around a particular app development initiative. It is generally a temporary organizational structure that ‘fuses together’ technical, commercial, change management, data security and legal considerations in the form of a transitional project team.
The purpose of a Fusion Team is to come together, implement the change, then go on to do other things. This means its not always necessary that the entire team has to be employed on full-time employment contracts, forging the possibility for Statement-of-Work styled project programs to be established whenever business needs are identified.
While project teams that use No-Code tooling to deliver app development outcomes isn’t particularly new, the fact that Gartner has ‘given this team a name’ and is now priming the enterprise IT market to consider a new way of working.
’Digital opportunities and risks are cross-cutting and fast changing, so it’s no surprise that most IT employees participate in flexible “fusion” teams that extend across IT and other parts of the business.’—Gartner CIO Research Team, Fusion Teams: Cross-Functional Collaboration for the Digital Era, June 2017.
In one of its latest papers, Gartner argues, ’The rise of fusion teams, or multidisciplinary digital business teams, requires CIOs to rethink the role of IT in supporting enterprise strategy.’ We would agree. The adoption of Fusion Teams into the enterprise biosphere is going to take a significant shift in attitudes and the final acceptance that coding is always going to be required for exceptional cases, but for the majority of applications building blocks, No-Code tools work just fine. It may take all of 2021, and a little time longer than that, for some ‘head in the sand’ CIOs to take on that little fact.
Ian Tomlin is a management consultant and writer on the subject of enterprise computing and organizational design. He serves on the USTECH GLOBAL EMEA Management Team. Ian has written several books on the subject of digital transformation, cloud computing, social operating systems, codeless applications development, business intelligence, data science, office security, customer data platforms, vendor management systems, Managed Service Provisioning (MSP), customer experience, and organizational design. He can be reached via LinkedIn or Twitter.
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