The Industry’s Interest In Agile

Note: This is not about the minor training and services industry has grown around diverse methodology certifications.

AT XP2012 we have a growing and active industry reference group that gives us input on what is relevant to “end-users” of agile. Agile conferences always have a large presence of trainers and consultants. We like to make the “end-users” participation much stronger.

The industry companies that actively participate in the preparations of XP2012 are from major industries like telecom, industrial control, medical devices, aerospace, etc. These companies do products where software is a major ingredient. Consider a modern truck from Volvo Trucks: About 70% of everything that is added value in a new model is driven by software. The ability to innovate and adapt while developing embedded, often safety-critical, software systems is very attractive to the automotive industry.

Ericsson presented at a Lean conference 2008 that they won major bids by being able to deliver updated functionality within weeks of the customers launch date for a new technology. The customer could be first out without any penalty. Usually the first one who invests in a new telecom technology will be at an disadvantage. Usually it is the second or third adopter that will get the benefits even if they buy the technology from another vendor. Why is that? It is not about ironing out bugs. It is about what you learn about what subscriber base actually wants when you release a new technology into actual use by paying customers not just focus groups. The other telecom suppliers, and Ericsson in the past, could not get a new system release out the door in less than 6-12 months. With agile, Ericsson won bids because they showed that agile teams working in two-week iterations could deliver functionality every two weeks. It has been possible in the past as well, by ivoking “escalations” that gather crash teams of key resources to save the day. The problem with escalations is that all normal operations suffer since they are robbed of key personnel. What impressed Eriksson’s telco customers was that it was the regular organization, in the form of mature agile teams, that delivered, not a crash team that would hurt all other ongoing projects, some of them with the same customer.