Author: Sangeeta Vishwanath
“What is our Technology Strategy?”
“Which Technology areas are we investing in?”
These are questions we explore regularly within the DigIO team, and the DigIO Technology Radar (Tech Radar) forms a cornerstone of how we answer these questions.
The Technology Radar is a framework developed by Thoughtworks as a means of monitoring interesting technologies and their maturity levels as well as utility in practice.
Technologies are categorised in two ways: Quadrants & Rings.
Quadrants represent different kinds of technologies: Programming Languages and Frameworks, Tools, Platforms and Techniques.
Rings represent where each technology is in the adoption lifecycle based on its maturity or efficacy/utility: Adopt, Trial, Assess, Hold.
While our concept of a Tech Radar is largely similar to that of Thoughtworks, how we interpret the quadrants and the rings varies slightly.
At DigIO, we use quadrants merely for organisation and are not too fussed about which quadrant a technology is categorised into. Rings, on the other hand, play a vital role in our Tech Radar. It is the ring a technology falls into, that determines if and how we invest in it.
- Adopt represents technologies we think are mature, have been proven with extensive use in production, and would readily recommend for use on a project (where appropriate).
We invest in these technologies by developing and offering training to broaden knowledge across the team.
We invest by developing solution accelerators, which help us deploy these technologies in a repeatable and efficient manner, helping save valuable time and effort on projects.
- Trial is for technologies that we have assessed in the past and think are ready to be used, but perhaps haven’t been used extensively in production yet.
We use these technologies in our internal projects or partner with customers who are interested in trialling the technology in low-risk projects.
We invest in these technologies by way of training, to start building expertise within the team.
- Assess is for items that we want to keep an eye on but not necessarily use on a project yet. We think these items have great potential, but we need to spend more time assessing and validating.
We invest in these by performing technology assessments. Technology assessments are a way for these items to move from Assess to Trial without placing undue risk on our clients.
A technology assessment is more than a Hack Day or playing with quick start guides and sample projects. Because we need a focused outcome, all our technology assessments have goals and success criteria, a team whose time is dedicated to the assessment and a use-case as close to real life as we can manage it.
- Hold, for us, is “stop doing”. Perhaps things that fall into this ring are on their way to being replaced by something else, or are frequently used incorrectly, or have proved to be ineffective or onerous in practice.
How do we build our Tech Radar?
Our entire organisation contributes to the Tech Radar sessions. To keep the sessions targeted, we run one session for each major discipline — Platform, API, Platform, Mobile and Test Automation.
We spend the first quarter of the session formulating a list of technologies we would like to discuss during the session. Next, we spend half the session discussing the technologies and placing them into categories of Hold, Assess, Trial, Adopt.
The remainder of the session is spent voting. We typically give each team member 5 votes and ask them to vote for the items that they think we should invest in over the following year. We encourage them to apply an investment lens to this process. We want to place bets on promising technologies in the assess category that have a chance of providing a high return in the future, and also to ensure that we are improving skills and offerings for technologies in the adopt category.
At the end of the session we have our Tech Radar — a list of technologies and techniques, and alignment across the team on how to apply them. Most importantly, we have buy-in from the team on which technologies we should focus on in the subsequent six months.
Our team works with over 60 companies, covering tier-1, tier-2 and tier-3 companies and spanning across 17 industries. Our collective experience is what makes our Tech Radar valuable.
We do have principal engineers in each area who are responsible for identifying investment in each of their respective areas, but their success in this role is driven by how effectively the team builds technology recommendations rather than just themselves.
The Tech Radar feeds our Technology Strategy. In the ever-changing technology landscape it helps us prioritise where we invest, how we do training and development of our team and what we recommend to our customers.
Over the coming weeks, our engineers will summarise the trends from our latest Tech Radar for each discipline. If you’d like to discuss something further, please reach out to us. We are always keen to have a chat.