CTO of Hotel Spider, Yannick Blondeau, talks DevOps business value

We sent our latest ebook, DevOps Business Value: Prove it or Lose it to Yannick Blondeau, CTO of Hotel Spider and longtime friend of Cycloid. We were really interested in what Yannick had to say, as he’s a man that finds himself in a pretty special situation. At the start of this year, he has promoted from tech lead to CTO of the hotel online distribution platform, giving him a unique perspective on both sides of the tech/c-level divide.

Would his personal experience mean he read the book differently to someone who is one or the other? 

Let’s find out. 

Cycloid: Thanks for joining us, Yannick! Did you have a chance to read the book? 

Yannick: I did, thank you. It was really interesting. It would maybe be more useful for bigger companies where the conversation has to be more formal, but I enjoyed reading it. In smaller, more tech-focused companies, the conversation can be more organic, more natural. I’m lucky because many of my jobs have been with these smaller teams where communication is easier.

Cycloid: Yannick explained that in his experience, the larger a company gets, the harder it is to have those “water cooler” moments where you naturally ask questions and find out more. When teams are bigger, or remote, it can be harder to find those points of crossover and you’ll have to work harder to make connections happen more regularly. 

Cycloid: So, the million-dollar question - what is the business value of DevOps?

Yannick: For us, it's the peace of mind, the reliability. As we started to roll out DevOps, we also rolled out infrastructure-as-code and it’s the standardization and control that they both offer that has really added value - in the form of speed and consistency - for us. 

Cycloid:  So, tell us - what’s the relationship between the average DevOps leader and the average CEO?

Yannick: Really, this depends on the kind of company more than the job role. If the company was founded by a tech person, there’s often not much difference at all - everybody is on the same level and understands the same context. You don’t need to explain, because everyone is a “tech” person. 

Cycloid: Yannick’s right - not all c-suites are cut from the same cloth. Some modern start-ups and scale-ups are led by tech minds and people who have job titles like “CEO/Tech lead”. Move to an older, more established company, or one currently going through a digital transformation, and you can have multiple people on the executive team for whom the tech team is a true mystery

Cycloid:  What are the biggest “tech team vs.” silos in the average company? Is it the executive team?

Yannick: No, not at all in my experience. The biggest silo I have come across is actually between a company and their clients or the companies they are doing partnerships with - when you have one way of working and they have a totally different way, that’s where it can be hard to work together well. 

Cycloid: You’ve been on both sides of the executive/non-exec wall - any insights from your unusual position?

Yannick: Yes, it’s actually been really interesting. As I have moved from the tech team to CTO, the team has also grown, so I’m leading a bigger team than the one I worked in. It’s a good time to be CTO, to have a more holistic vision of the company, and to be able to look at everything and point out the inefficiencies and problems and gaps and look to solve them.

Cycloid: Absolutely, it’s all about the headspace. When you organize things right and use the right tools, that’s exactly what DevOps can give you - the room to step back and look at things strategically from the bigger picture. It gives you a totally different perspective and hopefully one you can use to move towards growth and progress.  

Cycloid: Can DevOps work without significant c-suite buy-in?

Yannick: Yes, to be honest, I think it can work even if only a very small subset of the business is actively applying DevOps principles. As they progress and see success from DevOps, it will spread into the company organically as they see the results and the benefits coming from that way of doing things. Even as people move in and out of teams, that knowledge will spread.

Cycloid: Interesting - and encouraging - to hear for people reading who are struggling with that widespread buy-in. Start thinking DevOps and the rest will follow!

Cycloid:  So, to wrap things up, any DevOps business value stories you can tell us from the Hotel Spider trenches?

Yannick: Well, yes, one of the first things that comes to mind when I think about business value is the way we interact with our customers. We provide white-label solutions and since we use infra-as-code and DevOps, everything is so much easier. We can just plug our code in like a template, totally sure that everything will work properly and as expected. It saves so much time and worries, it’s definite value both mentally and financially.

If you'd like to read the same ebook that Yannick speaks about, DevOps Business Value: Prove it or Lose it, you can download it here. 

Free ebook: DevOps Business Value

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