"Culturally, we really struggle here with putting stuff out that's not perfect," says Gerjets. "Because of the way we're architected, we have one billing system and one CRM and 20 million customers, so if we mess something up, we can really impact a lot of people." As someone who has seen projects crash and burn, and accumulated insight from those experiences, Gerjets knew that encouraging employees across the company to share their stories could provide lessons from which both IT and the business could benefit.
F12 is a rare example of a successful internal gamification play. Under the rubric "Fearless. Focused. Failure!" the initiative encourages users to upload material, then rewards them with badges and points. Along the way, the company runs sentiment analysis on its internal social media platform as a way of determining how F12 is faring. Celebrating failure may sound unintuitive, but Gerjets feels strongly that unless you quell the fear of failure, you simply can't achieve the high performance that agility promises.
6. Make exploring new technology a habit
When I met Gerjets, he was in San Francisco to check out a couple of startups to determine if their solutions would be appropriate for DirecTV -- including Capriza, which offers an easy solution to skin legacy apps as mobile applications.
Today, DirecTV is in the process of migrating from a legacy ATG e-commerce platform to one built on more modern, Internet-native technology -- including MongoDB and Node.js. The company is also committed to delivering applications that adhere to responsive Web design principles, which promises a consistent user experience across the full range of desktop and mobile devices.
In addition, to enrich DirecTV's partner program, where third parties resell DirecTV content and services, Gerjets is in the process of publishing machine-addressable APIs using the Apigee API Exchange. And those APIs go beyond e-commerce. "We're also using that layer to abstract the UI experience," says Gerjets.
Cloud and open source, both of which enable you to wade in without up-front financial commitments, support DirecTV's culture of experimentation. "It's a little different than your classic getting in bed with Oracle. We always have the option of shifting gears."
Old-fashioned IT: No longer an option
Most of us already realize the time-honored IT approach of "tell us what to do and we'll do it" won't work anymore. Either IT management agrees to do way too much and slips further and further behind -- or it points to all the other stuff in the queue and pushes back with "wait your turn!" regardless of which projects may yield the greatest business value. Either way, business stakeholders may turn elsewhere, such as random cloud services.