In his keynote address at the Gartner Application Architecture, Development & Integration Summit 2019 in Mumbai last month, Mathew Hotle, Distinguished VP Analyst, Gartner said it is an “exciting time” to be in Application Development. He was optimistic about the future and told the audience where he expects applications to be in the year 2023. Back in 2014, everyone was talking about APIs and services oriented architecture (SOA), he said. People were already talking about net driven architecture back then. And the discussion on moving from Projects to Products was just beginning in the application organisation.
He said the future of application development will see new competitors and new opportunities. “It is exciting to be in applications because the products and services that we deliver are critical to taking advantage of those new markets and opportunities,” said Hotle. “But to take advantage of those new opportunities businesses need intelligent applications and should be able to exploit those applications for business use.”
We met Mathew on the sidelines of the summit and asked him to elaborate on some of these points.
Excerpts from the interview:
DC: How will Intelligent Apps and Augmented Analytics complement the role of the app development leaders in the future?
Mathew Hotle: We need intelligent applications and we need to be able to exploit those applications for business use. We need to be adaptive in terms of the operating model that we have, in terms of the skillsets that we have, and in terms of the culture. We need to embed ourselves in the business.
We need to think about intelligence everywhere. We need to have a set of analytics that allows us to learn from the way we are doing business. We need to have a set of new patterns and a new set of architectural frameworks to exploit that learning. We need to start thinking about ecosystems in those applications.
When you talk about analytics, we see a data scientist role for building customised models. It is hard to glean intelligence from data that’s in those models—because we have silos of data stores. So you will need smart people to be able to do this.
As you move forward into the augmented intelligence role, software will help those data scientists build those models. We are starting to see work done by citizen data scientists. With the advent of augmented intelligence at the back-end and things like natural language programming and natural language queries at the front-end — it will bring the worlds of citizen data scientists and professional data scientists closer together. It will enable more collaboration between both groups. It will impact the citizen developer too.
So the role of the application leader will change in the next five years. Application leaders are going to have to use these techniques, whether they like it or not. It is not an issue of complementing an application leader’s role; the application leader needs to take advantage of these new technologies. The application leaders are going to have to provide these types of applications to their colleagues in the business. The business needs to make decisions and these types of applications will help them make those decisions. We are seeing this in data analytics right now where people treat the work they are developing for a customer around a certain area as a product. They are building an analytics product for a certain set of customers. So customers will have to figure out how to do product management. And that’s key for application leaders, who need to figure out how to manage things in a products sense.
The challenge for most application leaders is when you move to products, a lot of things need to change. Your governance model has to change, your finance model has to change, your organisational model has to change, your culture has to change — both in the IT organisation and in the business. The problem is only some of that is in the control of an application leader.
DC: Gartner sees a shift from Projects to Products. It sees a doubling of products by 2023. What is the reason for organisations to move to Products?
Mathew Hotle: The reason to move to products isn’t products themselves. For most organisations, the reason to move to products is because they want to be more agile in their business. They want business agility. Businesses can no longer wait for months to have software or software updates. That means we need to move to agile delivery methods, which are product-centric. So it is really about agility and not products. Products are the mechanism by which we deliver agility. The challenge for most application leaders is when you move to products, a lot of things need to change. Your governance model has to change, your finance model has to change, your organisational model has to change, your culture has to change — both in the IT organisation and in the business. The problem is only some of that is in the control of an application leader. The move to products should be an evolution — not a top-down transition.
Building a competency around organisational change is one of the single most important things that an organisation can do. In some cases, that will come from HR, in other cases, it may come from six sigma black belts. But the biggest barrier (to change) is yourself and the culture in your organisation.
DC: As organisations move from Projects to Products, how should they handle the change in organisational culture?
Mathew Hotle: Culture is the most difficult thing to change. Most organisations will not have competency in organisational change management. So how could they possibly change? We did a survey last year about the shift from projects to products and we found three items that were the biggest barriers. The first one was financing. CFOs like projects. But the two other ones were business culture and IT culture. The problem is unless you know what your culture is, how can you possibly change? Building a competency around organisational change is one of the single most important things that an organisation can do. In some cases, that will come from HR, in other cases, it may come from six sigma black belts. But the biggest barrier (to change) is yourself and the culture in your organisation. If you want to make the change you need to figure out how to do the change management.