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How to Speak “DevOps” when Selling to CIOs


By Tomer Y. Avni

DevOps tools and solutions are playing a pivotal role in the digital transformation of enterprises. DevOps is a term that connotes a set of practices, methodologies, tools and even a culture that fosters more rapid, more consistent and higher quality product development and delivery. The DevOps framework and best practices increase velocity and enhance the working behavior, output and experience of software developers’ (DX) and related teams.

Previously, developers wrote code and then handed it off to a different department for deployment who then handed it off to another department for maintenance. Now the three functions are combined in a more efficient, comprehensive framework. This streamlines the process, reduces personnel required and ties the developers closer to real world production issues for a faster feedback loop.

As a result, software and product development is shifting to an era of agility, autonomy, continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) using microservices architecture and other useful tools that improve quality, compliance and security while increasing the velocity of software output. With this improved DevOps framework, CIOs have a tremendous and strategic opportunity to speed time-to-delivery and streamline IT operations while reducing cost and a responsibility to enhance compliance and mitigate business risk.

We recently introduced Datree, one of our leading DevOps startup portfolio companies to our CIO Council in San Francisco and New York. Datree shared its product strategy and how it can help CIOs. It was a highly productive conversation and here are a few unanimous takeaways for best practices when DevOps founders speak with CIOs:

1.Listen first and have a conversation

CIOs have a lot on their plate. They are constantly trying to balance keeping the production systems highly functional, improving and updating new functionality on time and on budget and keeping pace with the difficult task of hiring and retaining talented engineering staff. They are also trying to reduce the number of vendors they support while affording their engineers the latest in useful products and services.

First, ask CIOs where they are in their transformational journey moving from legacy tools, processes and structure to a DevOps future. Ask the CIO about use cases and issues of prime concern. With that in mind, you’ll be able to better respond to their needs. Only then, share how your solution fits within the CIO’s existing framework and how your solution streamlines the move forward and reduces risk, cost and perhaps timeline.

2. Be “Pro-Developer”

When pitching a DevOps solution to CIOs, it’s tempting to focus on how your product helps ensure that developers adhere to organizational policies. This alone won’t work. The CIO also needs to hear a positive and pro-developer message because they well know that adoption of DevOps tools within their organization will succeed or fail on the developers’ attitude towards adoption. Your demo should clearly show how it makes the developers’ life easier, better and more productive.

Developers don’t automatically oppose governance, regulatory and compliance rules (GRC) or security protocols. In fact, they strive to adhere to such policies. Yet, they struggle to do so without easy automated tools while keeping pace with the rapid demand for ever-shorter product cycles. Explain to the CIO how your solutions enable developers to work more quickly and efficiently while adhering to the policy.

3. Be Solution Oriented

Digital transformation is a long and challenging journey of various paths and diverse milestones. DevOps can be part of the solution set for an organization, as is moving to the cloud, adopting automation and AI technologies, replacing legacy software with SaaS solutions, collecting and analyzing data, implementing predictive analytics and performance management platforms. Try to understand the CIO’s specific digital transformation journey. What is their current stage and how are they positioned to move forward. Customize your pitch to the organization’s digital journey stage, needs, budget and culture.

DevOps solutions are becoming ever more vital and widely adopted, as software and product development teams become more agile and decentralized, or even a fully work from home environment. There is a great opportunity for DevOps solutions to have an important impact for CIOs if you listen and highlight how your solutions helps knit the CIOs and their DevOps teams together into a more cohesive and functional organization.

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