Paulo Rosado, CEO of OutSystems, kicked off the conference with a thought provoking keynote arguing the idea that ‘IT doesn’t matter’ and is just a commodity was incorrect and described how and why IT is in fact the source of competitive advantage for many leading companies. He also warned the audience that because every good idea is eventually copied -eroding any competitive advantage - continuous innovation is imperative.
He cited several interesting examples of companies using their IT systems to create distinct competitive advantage: a mass retail company using IT to develop customer intimacy; an Insurance company decentralizing 98% of its business transactions through their IT systems - resulting in fully empowered agents, and in turn attracting the best agents in the market; and he introduced Main Energie, the next keynote which we will also be blogging on…who is the epitome of a company using IT for competitive advantage.
At this point, Paulo turned to 4 industry trends which he believes will reinforce the notion of IT as a source of competitive advantage and which are key to the OutSystems go-forward vision and strategy.
I’m pretty certain this will take a white-paper to describe - but here are some highlights…
#1 - the acceleration of Agile adoption: citing many examples of the Agile adoption ramp in the market, defining “Agile” and addressing the common “Agile is OK, but not for me” statement. An interesting discussion here on the difference between 1. software product organizations with established budgets, product managers, stable teams and planned design - who are doing well with Agile, and 2.Enterprise IT organizations with limited budgets, business users, shifting teams and unpredictable requirements. Paulo described how the OutSystems approach to Agile has been developed around the very different needs of Enterprise IT and how to make Agile practical in their environment - resulting in WTBWIWID (What The Business Wants Is What IT Delivers)
#2 - the rise of Business-savvy IT and IT-savvy Business users: Paulo described how a new generation of tech savvy business people are now forcing IT to become more business savvy and driving a trend toward new roles in the IT App Dev world…which Agile is further consolidating. This trend is being addressed at OutSystems through the Agile Academy and Agile training & certifications.
#3 - the world is flat (and getting flatter everyday): Paulo gave us an example of a customer who has development teams spread around the globe and looking to expand the team to the Asia. Probably a more and more common scenario. This flattening demands a different type of approach to Agile and different technology enablers. Here Paulo hinted at the Cloud and how that would figure into OutSystems’ upcoming releases of its Agile Platform.
#4 - the Process-driven Enterprise: the fourth and probably most significant trend, Paulo said is not a trend, but a reality. Enterprises have to address how business process fits into their IT strategy and he told us about how OutSystems has been working with its largest process-centric customers for the last 18 months to figure out the best way to help address process within the context of Agile. Here Paulo indicated that the upcoming releases of the Agile Platform are likely to tackle some of the key challenges of traditional BPM (i.e. big-bang approach with large upfront investments, and the disconnect between process & applications which prevents rapid adaptation to change.)
There you have it - 4 trends that are supporting how IT can be a source of competitive advantage…and the audience all seemed to agree with all the vigorous nodding of heads!