This year, I led my first custom survey research for Forrester, the Q4 2020 Modern Technology Operations Survey. We selected a random panel of 268 digital and IT professionals with day-to-day responsibility for operating digital systems. (We did not rule out developers, as long as they also had runtime responsibilities). We also looked for folks with influence across multiple teams. We published the key findings from this survey in our “The State Of Modern Technology Operations, Q4 2020” report, which went live today.

The research hypotheses were current and topical. We looked to the current implicit assumptions of IT service management, the expansive themes of business agility promoted by thinkers like Gary Hamel and Steve Denning, and, of course, the well-regarded state of DevOps research by Dr. Nicole Forsgren and her colleagues. Thematically, the research probed on:

  • The relationship between operating model and business success
  • The adoption of agile/DevOps practices and their implications
  • Release frequency and broader release management views and trends
  • Incident and change management views and trends
  • Cloud and cloud-native adoption and correlations

We arrived at a number of interesting benchmark points:

  • In terms of operating model foundation, we found that 27% of those surveyed indicated they were moving to cross-functional product teams. Thirty percent indicated their organization predominantly had a project focus (temporary groupings), while 43% indicated they had a primarily functional organization, grouping people by specialty and routing work from team to team.
  • We also found that over half claimed that they were either 1) in an active agile/DevOps transformation or 2) had completed one or had “always operated that way.” (We gave them a thorough definition of what such transformations usually imply.)
  • The top barriers to agile/DevOps were concerns for stability, skill gaps, and security/governance.

We did extensive correlation analysis, which is where the data really began to shine. We analyzed about 700 hypothesis-driven correlations, about 30% of which turned out to bear fruit. For example:

  • Organizations engaging in or having completed an agile/DevOps transformation (or always having operated in such a way) were more likely to:
    • Agree that technology is increasingly well supportive of business objectives and report exceeding expectations for broad business objectives
    • Employ a product-team-centric operating model
    • Report a higher overall release cadence across their application portfolios
  • Organizations with higher release frequencies were:
    • More likely to report higher revenue growth
    • More likely to report favorable incident trends
    • Less likely to be using ITIL

Clearly, these results align with the growing industry consensus that agile, DevOps, and their related indicators are net positive for modern technology organizations.

Doing work like this is one of the reasons I love being an analyst. The initial report is out today, and we’ll continue publishing results from this rich data set.

All for now,