What Is a ''Fast'' Company?
In this article, Alexander Assink explains what it means to be a ''fast'' company and why it's becoming more important to be one.
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It's no longer only the big companies consuming the small companies; it’s also the fast companies that are overtaking the slow companies. Companies need to innovate more and deliver faster.
In development, many individual trends underpin this movement. These include DevOps, Agile, design thinking, PaaS, and microservices, as well as low-code, high-productivity platforms.
Looking back, 90% of Fortune 500 companies have vanished since 1955 and less than half of the Fortune 500 companies that were on the list two decades ago made the cut in 2015. As of 2015, they even publish a list of so-called unicorns, billion-dollar technology startup companies that are backed by a new generation of disruptive technology. This new wave of companies is already disrupting the traditional industries.
Looking forward, this is a trend that shows no sign of stopping. Nowadays, every company also needs to be an IT company in order to stay relevant in their market. People expect much more from companies these days ranging from instant services and continuously evolving products. This requires companies to put innovation at the top of their agenda. If they don’t, they remain in the slow lane while new emerging companies overtake them from the fast lane.
How to Become Fast
There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to this, neither is the definition of "fast" very clear. However, this is a question that many of these individual trends are trying to answer, as well. How do you find new ways to embed change and innovation into delivery practices?
This means utilizing new ways of working that address both the business and IT. People and processes need to adapt more rapidly to change by using trends like Agile, DevOps, and design thinking. IT needs to support this using Continous Delivery, Continous Integration, modular architectures, artificial intelligence, cloud platforms, etc.
Apart from separately addressing the people, processes, and IT aspects, there may also be a need to embed these together into optimized fast lane delivery streams.
Which Type of Systems Do You Work With?
Before we look into such fast lane delivery streams, let's first take a look at what type of systems we can identify in the current IT landscape.
Previously, distinctions between modern and legacy systems were made. The pace-layered architecture from Gartner provides a different view that divides systems into three different categories.
Each of these systems has their own needs. Based on these needs, they change faster or slower depending on which category they operate in. For example, systems of innovation need to change faster and should benefit from modern technologies that are very different than what we often require in systems of record.
Innovation requires a different view on traditional IT and has different needs in order to be successful.
The Fast Lane
Bimodal IT, for example (although it's not only about IT anymore), embraces the different aspects of the aforementioned pace-layered architecture into two separate delivery streams.
In this particular model, Mode 2 is the fast lane that gravitates towards innovative IT systems in need of speed and agility. Such an innovation workstream can coexist with the traditional systems and delivery practices and plug in on top of those, or even innovate into other unexplored areas.
Where to Start
High-productivity platforms, for example, combine many trends already into integrated platforms in the cloud. They remove most of the technical complexity required to set up such optimized delivery streams and also simplify programming by model-driven development and drag and drop building blocks. This also opens up the door to a new type of developer, commonly referred to as the citizen developer, who operates more on the border between business and IT.
After your create your first app, take a step back to assess how such a platform (not just the app) could be best positioned. Once you establish the governance, strategy, and architecture, continue to plug in innovations, possibly leveraging an API strategy as well.
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