Many businesses and government organisations now have innovation hubs to come up with the next big idea, software solution or product. But what’s the next step after you’ve come up with your idea? How long will it take to make it a reality? In this blog we will explore four key elements that will get you on the front foot and ensure your technology environment is ‘innovation ready’.
1. Service-based Architecture
Adopting a service-based architecture is essential for rapid, robust software development. Having a suite of standard capabilities or microservices such as authentication, authorisation, logging and monitoring reduces development time and will help you get your minimum valuable product (MVP) to market sooner rather than later.
The critical success factor for reuse will be a comprehensive service catalogue that enables easy discoverability and accessibility of your capabilities.
2. Rapid Experimentation
Rapid experimentation or prototyping goes beyond wireframes and mocked up screenshots and provides stakeholders the opportunity to interact with the ‘product’ prior to development. This a great vehicle for beta testing and fast feedback but also for reassuring nervous stakeholders who are footing the bill.
To maximise the value of this activity you should use an industry standard analysis tool like New Relic or Google Tag Manager to analyse how users interact with the solution. Knowing which features they used most, or which weren’t used at all will help you to deliver your MVP.
3. Predictable Implementation
A common blocker we see for quick time to market is governance, or the lack of automated governance. The development team think they’re done and dusted only to be told their application doesn’t meet x-y-z criteria.
Setting up a culture of DevSecOps within your organization can help solve some of these challenges by enabling automation around core activities such as Testing, a concept explored in one of our earlier blogs Building Agile Confidence with DevOps.
It is important to invest time and resources in developing best practice patterns for core activities such as API Design, API Implementation, API Security, security controls for cloud deployment, fully automated contract testing etc. to ensure consistency and enable fast deployment. This is not necessarily a cheap exercise but if you’re in an industry where timing and security are of equal consequence than it will be well worth the investment in the long run.
To minimise ‘bill shock’ that can come along with cloud infrastructure you should look to track your operational costs by using config tools to monitor your resource configurations and setting up alerts and notifications. You should also leverage vendor tools and guidelines such as the AWS Well Architected Framework to validate that your infrastructure is as secure, high-performing, resilient, and efficient as possible.
4. Development Platforms & Frameworks
There are a myriad of low-code development platforms and application generators available in the market. These tools can save a lot of time in the delivery of a product by enabling multi-channel deployment and eliminating the need to write repetitive code. They also have the added advantage of providing you access to ready-made best practice approaches to application setup that have been tried and tested by many developers before you.
However, beware the temptation of using less experienced, lower cost resources when using these platforms. If (or when) something goes wrong, it is essential that your developers still know what is going on under the hood in order to resolve issues quickly. As pointed out in a TechTarget article, ‘tools help a competent person move faster. They will not help those lacking mastery move better.’
Reaping the Benefits
There are many tangible benefits these elements will bring to your innovation program and to your organisation as a whole, but the intangible value they bring will be just as vital to your success.
- Through reuse, service-based architecture builds resilience.
- Through visibility, rapid experimentation builds shared understanding.
- Through certainty, predictable implementation builds trust.
- Through efficiency, development platforms & frameworks build confidence.
You will not win any innovation awards for having a robust, reusable and predictable technology stack. But reducing the hurdles for getting your next big idea to market could mean the difference between being the next iPhone or the next Nokia.