DevOps at Disney, management lessons learned – Notebook

New types of software and delivery mechanisms (SaaS, mobile) mean new problems and scale:

“We were so used to dealing with tens of servers and suddenly it was hundreds and thousands of servers,” which in turn created more work for the development teams.

More:

“The digital expansion of business equals more work and firefighting,” Cox said.

Less time spent doing dumb-shit:

employees used to spend the eight hours of the park closed every night, manually updating each server. Now only one person can update the whole fleet in 30 minutes.

Some guiding principals and management challenges:

Cox said that leading a change of this order of magnitude involved three crucial ingredients:
1. Collaboration: break down silos, mutual objectives.
2. Curiosity: keep experimenting.
3. Courage: candor, challenge, no blaming or witch-hunting.
But  these can come with its own leadership challenges, including:
• The politics of command and control.
• How new leadership can take a company in a new direction.
• The blame bias of who versus what.

And, some good motivation:

We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, doing more things because we’re curious.

All from Jennifer Riggins’s write-up at TheNewStack

Karl Lagerfeld’s daily routine, circa 2012

Who doesn’t like a good what’s in bag/what I do each day post?

I used to fax a lot, but people don’t have faxes anymore.

In this routine, what’s remarkable is how much he avoids people, e.g.:

I don’t go out that much because I’m always late, and I’m so busy and so pleased with what I’m doing that I’m not really ready for a social evening. That’s over—the people I was going out with are dead or don’t exist anymore.

Link

Good intentions & indolent portfolio management lead to legacy quicksand

The downward spiral (driven by budgeting, risk-aversion, and ROI-think) that make legacy IT bloom like algae in a stagnant creek, from Chris Tofts:

With a limited budget for maintenance or improvement, how will it be allocated to the various systems managed by IT? Remember that in having to justify the spend at all, the primary need is to demonstrate business impact and – equally – guarantee that there is no risk to continued operations.

Inevitably, depending on organisational perspective, there are essentially three underlying approaches. First, maximise the number of systems that have been updated: demonstrate lots of work has taken place. Next, minimise the risk that any update will fail: have no impact on the ongoing organisation. Finally, maximise the apparent impact on the direct customers for IT systems – improve the immediate return to the business.

If the organisation maximises the number of systems updated then the clear imperative is to choose systems that are easy (cheap) to update. The systems that are cheap to update are invariably the ones with the least difference between in-use and current. In other words, the systems that were updated during the last round of updates. So the organisation will choose to improve those systems just beyond some minimum obsolescence criteria and until all of the budget is spent.

And then, you get bi-modal infrastructure:

It’s hard to say what the fix is beyond “don’t do that.” Perhaps a good rule of thumb is to attack the hard, risky stuff first.

Getting The Business to pay attention to legacy like they do cash-losses is also an interesting gambit:

As boring as it sounds, if organisations had to carry technical debt on their books – just like they carry the value of their brand on their assets – then, finally, they might understand both their exposure and necessary spend on their critical IT assets.

Link

Apple makes major podcast updates, tracking how much user’s actually listen

Apple said today that it will be using (anonymized) data from the app to show podcasters how many people are listening and where in the app people are stopping or skipping. This has the potential to dramatically change our perception of how many people really listen to a show, and how many people skip ads, as well as how long a podcast can run before people just give up.

Link

Podcast market estimated at over $220m

As covered by Axios, in a report from IAM/PwC. As noted in the notes below the chart, these figures are based on a sub-set of the market, 20 advertising outfits. No doubt, they represent a huge part of revenue however. It’s hard to imagine that there’s many more millions in podcast advertising.

Also as highlighted by Sara Fischer:

Edison Research and Triton Digital estimates 98 million U.S. adults listen to podcasts.

Link

In finance, large banks seem to be fast followers, not disruption victims

Eventually every advisor will be a robo-advisor, which means there will be convergence.

Without some marketshare numbers, it’s tough to tell if the banking startups are making a dent against incumbent banks. Josh Brown suggests that banks are quick to catch-up and have nullified any lead that companies like Weathfront could have made:

It wasn’t long before the weaker B2C robo-advisors folded, the middling players were acquired and the incumbents launched their own competing platforms. The miscalculation on the part of the disruptors may have been the idea that they had years of lead time to scale up their assets before the lumbering giants of the industry would be able to fight back. Turns out they only had months, not years. Charles Schwab and Vanguard launched their own versions of the service and the mindshare / market share battle was joined.

Checks out

From what I see out there, banks are quick to adapt and adopt new ideas into their businesses. While they’re beset with endless legacy IT and technical debt, they churn ahead nonetheless, e.g.:

While past performance is no guarantee of future results, and even though all the company’s results cannot be entirely attributed to BBVA’s digital transformation plan, so far many signs are encouraging. The number of BBVA’s digital customers increased by 68% from 2011 to 2014, reaching 8.4 million in mid-2014, of which 3.6 million were active mobile users.

Acquisition isn’t always failure, or victory

On the narrative framing side, it’s easy to frame a startup being acquired as “failure” and success for incumbents. That’s not always the case, and suggests a zero-sum view of innovation in industries. Acquisitions can have winners and losers – as with valuing anything, like real estate, the valuation could be wrong and in favor of the buyer or seller.

However, in the ideal case of an acquisition, it makes strategic sense for the buyer to spend their time and money that way instead of trying to innovate on it’s own. For the startup being acquired, they’re usually near the end of their gamble of sacrificing profit in favor of innovation and growth and need someone to bring them to the black.

Link