Sean Bean GoT

For those of you who are Game of Thrones enthusiasts, you will understand the significance of the phrase, Winter is Coming. Right from the very first time Lord Eddard Stark, played by Sean Bean, uttered the famous words through to the final episode of the latest series.

At the 2014 CIO Summit, Richard Sykes talked openly about the need for suppliers to improve the level of innovation and delivery. The two things may seem unrelated, but I think for IT suppliers, especially in the software application space, winter is definitely coming, and in some cases, the white-walkers are already here.

I have been lucky enough to have worked in a variety of IT sectors, services, construction, housing and now healthcare. Typically these sectors have been dominated by medium- to large-scale software houses, with detailed process and business knowledge. Also typical, is that these software houses operate on platforms and database that can be quite old, typically release four updates a year with a major release every year, and the pace and scope of innovation severely lacking.

But this is changing.

The tools, techniques and processes that have been adopted by some of the most successful technology based companies are now on the brink of becoming mainstream. The Gartner view is that 25% of Global 2000 organisations will have adopted these tools and practices. It's easy to see evidence of this - at a CIO Mircosummit at the Williams F1 and engineering headquarters last week, Barclaycard CIO Roy Aston took us through the work he has done to transform the delivery capability of the IT function using Agile, DevOps and continuous delivery; with three releases per day. Most of the change being culture based. The evidence is clear, companies that adopt continuous delivery prove to deliver higher levels of customer and employee satisfaction and are more profitable.

I do wonder though about the software suppliers in niche markets, as noted above. I don't think they quite get it, they are stuck in the old ways, and in the knowledge that significant investment is required in order to move from the old to the new.

However it is so much easier for new start-ups to deliver core functionality and delivery rapid improvements based of continuous feedback cycles. Large company adoption of new ways is becoming more mainstream, through accelerators and changing attitudes in procurement especially in the public sector to smaller more innovative suppliers.

My contention is that the tidal wave of change is about to hit these old school providers. They need to change and adapt or be prepared to be swept away. For them winter is definitely coming.