Augmenting the Revolution of A Digital Era

Divy Shrivastava, Co-Founder & CEO, Nineleaps Divy Shrivastava, as CEO of Nineleaps Technology Solutions, focusses on setting strategic
direction and product positioning while building and nurturing a powerful leadership team.
Divy has a strong project planning and execution track record and is passionate about helping
organizations digitally transform their business to drive digitization and profitable outcomes.

Q) Is Design Thinking turning traditional product development on its head?

Design thinking is being widely adopted as a methodology to drive various product development initiatives, including software product development. I would like to elaborate on how software product development is evolving, in-line with design thinking methodologies.

We can analyse the impact of design thinking methodologies on software product development broadly in three areas, how the processes are being changed, how it is changing team aspects, and what changes are happening on technology.

Some of the key trends that we have observed are:

A) Faster releases cycles

Team are deploying new versions of the product ever more often. Great software product development teams might be doing several hundreds of changes every day to production. Quick iterations are the centre piece of modern software development. Team need to ensure that they are releasing code to production every sprint cycle.

B) The DevOps way of life

Traditionally development and operations were separated functions, within any software product development. Today with the increasing demand for quick iteration and experimentation and the need to quickly deploy and test something out, teams must ensure that they are doing both development and operating the services that they develop.

C) Diverse & Empowered Teams

The teams are quite empowered now, the teams can decide on themselves how an aspect of the product is experienced by the end user, they have the power to make that decision. Previously most decisions were centrally controlled. This change is in-line with design thinking as it promotes more empowered teams to take data driven decisions.

D) Experimentation & Analysis

The design thinking emphasises a lot on experimentations and validation of tests done in an objective manner. Several testing methodologies are now included as part of the product development cycle. Products are ever evolving with large products undertaking thousands of tests every day.

E) Leveraging Open Source & Other Products

With a smaller team size, a lot to do and need for ever shorter release cycles, teams are learning to leverage as much open source, plugins and other third party products to maximise the output, and focus on what matters. The decision of not build something is as important as what you build.

F) Technology Architecture

The technology architecture being used plays a vital role in the ability to respond faster and scale teams. A platform approach of micro-service based architecture will enable you to succeed much faster.

These are some of the key ways we have observed the product development change in-line with design thinking.

Q) Explain about the fulfilment of Agile methodologies with DevOps.

DevOps is the combination of tools and practices that help us shorten the release cycles.

DevOps has a far-reaching impact on various Agile Methodologies and principles. It enables fulfilment of various Agile Methodologies like:

Working Increment of Software

Agile Scrum emphasises on a Working Increment of the product at the end of the sprint. This Working Increment should meet the Definition of Done, and the focus is on “Done”.
The Definition of Done, depends upon team to team, but often includes (as a bare minimum) that code be merged to the central repository and the tests are passing. In some cases, it goes to the extent of stating “Done” mean in production.

Aspects of Continuous Integration ensures that the code is merged and automation of tests and other builds is done. The DevOps practices ensure that the process is smooth and requires no manual intervention, and developers are not spending time in these activities.

Extreme Programming (XP) Testing and Feedback

Extreme programming practices emphasise on improving software quality and responsiveness to changing customer requirements. As a practice of extreme programming a huge impetus is put on testing, this includes unit and integration testing.

DevOps becomes a key enabler to implementing extreme programming practices.

Coding Standards

Enforcing coding standards and doing static code analysis also becomes easier with Continuous Integration, the static code analysis can be part of the build pipeline and ensure that team gets quick feedback on the code they have written.

Q) How is AI incorporated into strategic business applications or business domains in enterprises and how AI will raise employee productivity, detect fraud, and address cybersecurity?

With maturing Deep Learning based mathematical models and consistent improvements in Natural Language Processing, AI is penetrating business swiftly. Industries, not restricted to tech space, is adapting data-driven decisions more frequently and is open to spending a considerable amount of their time and cost in this domain. We have seen huge success in enterprise level incorporation. Amazon's efficiency has increased in the operational domain along with an advanced recommendation system, Alibaba's advanced Chatbot has now the capability to understand almost 90 percent of customer queries along with large volume. Same goes with Telecom where AI can help the business in predicting the churn. Retails domain utilizes in forecasting the sales values for efficient vendor management. Netflix's recommendation system is one of the best in the market right now. In nutshell, AI is shaping the future of business and it's changing it fast. Advances in Computer Vision, Cognitive sciences and making a machine capable to understand and respond as a human has made these changes possible and has opened a new era of enterprise level applications o the same.

AI is changing the game of industries across various domains. Be it HR, operations or Tech. It is making the organization much more efficient in dealing with various challenges it faces in daily working such as employee attrition, skill identification, inter-domain collaboration.

Q) To stay competitive in the security chain, most organizations are embracing digital transformation, developing new tools and apps. So what do you consider as the biggest challenge or the weakest link in today’s expanding and increasingly distributed networks?

As it is rightly said, your system is only as secure as your weakest component. It essentially boils down to trade-off between performance and security of the system. Therefore, it is essential to understand and take preventive measures towards any security breach that might occur.

One of the key vulnerabilities is data leaks & infrastructure damage. Leakage of information where an unauthorized person gains access to the underlying data could be a major flaw in the system. In addition to the malicious intent, there is an unintentional threat to data in today's world. It is due to the distributed systems and devices specially IoT where security protocols are unclear. These breaches can happen due to incorrectly configured cloud environments & an inadequate security code & app design.

Eavesdropping is another major attack which leads to a high degree of vulnerability. In such cases, Unauthorised persons could get access to a lot of information through packet-sniffers and wire tappers.

DoS attacks are very common nowadays and could possibly eat up all your resources leading to unwanted downtime in the service. Concurrency is another major weak link where several parties try to gain access to the same resources. If not designed properly, could lead to misaligned or even corrupt information and hence the failure of the system.

Finally, is endpoint security. It is about protecting the corporate network when accessed by remote devices. Each remotely connecting device can be a potential security threat.

Q) For successful brand-building, tactical shifts to approach challenges and critical know-how for implementing innovations matters most. What is your take on this viewpoint and how would you approach this statement?

Yes, in today's digital world, customer behaviour & requirements are continuously evolving. The customer is much more informed than before & the behaviour changes as per the continuous flow of information. Hence, it can only be catered by the right mix of Technical competency & Business Model

Companies like UBER have been able to build a brand by leveraging the existing know-how with the new business model. They provided reliability & flexibility to the customer. Huffington Post leveraged new technical competency with the new business model to revolutionize the newspaper industry. Traditional industries like Aircraft, Telecom, Pharma are leveraging new technical competency with the existing business model to build brands. for example, Jet engines, Biotechnology or fiber optics are a great example.