Ask 50 CXOs what the key to business success is, and you’ll likely get 50 different answers. But according to a Cisco-commissioned study by Forrester Consulting, success has a lot to do with how you answer this question: How adaptable, resilient, and agile are your operations? Or, to use Forrester’s term, how mature are your operations?

Mature operations lean heavily into automation. Advanced automation is inextricably linked to an organization’s ability to be agile, collaborative, and responsive to changing business and customer needs. An ability the pandemic has highlighted as table stakes for any organization looking to the future.

The second installment of the study, Operational Maturity Is Critical to Business Success, drills down into how mature operations set some firms ahead of the competition, enabling them to grow even in the face of adversity.

So what makes an organization operationally mature, also referred to by Forrester as a leader?

The study cites four areas of competency: strategy, technology, process, and governance. Let’s take a closer look at each area.


Leaders use experimentation to evolve their digital products over time while striving to visualize and manage work in progress. Operations staff can manage infrastructure-as-code. They pursue a strategy where developers are involved in the testing cycle early and in which tier-one support is automated through things like proactive remediation and chatbots.


Leaders approach all areas of the digital stack as code under version control. They manage releases as models moving across an automated pipeline from development to production. The ticketing system extends from IT-centric use cases to enterprise use cases with the goal of moving from IT service management to enterprise service management.


Leaders regularly collect qualitative feedback via things like pulse surveys, collaborative online workspaces for cross-functional teams to coordinate activities and troubleshoot issues, and retrospectives that communicate process best practices after major incidents. Mature organizations also provide an online portal for delivery of enterprise services not limited to IT.


Security and governance move earlier in the IT delivery lifecycle to support compliance by default. Leaders increase the automation and logging of all activities in the digital pipeline, enabling shorter audits. They can also use AI/ML-enabled tooling for better IT operations insights.

If you score high on these four measures, congratulations — you’ve achieved a high degree of operational maturity. This means you’re likely way ahead of organizations with low-maturity operations (aka beginners) when it comes to automation.

You automate things such as cloud management, network adaptation, and back-end business processes. You also likely have more advanced automation technology, allowing you to use tools for tasks such as digital process automation (DPA) and workload automation.

How automated are the following processes?

While we’ve all heard the saying “garbage in, garbage out,” leaders take that saying to heart by focusing on improving data quality. They capitalize on emerging technology such as expanding 5G networking and grasp the importance of investment, even in trying times. They are more likely to strategically spend their way through a recession, seizing new opportunities to capitalize on previous tech investments, even under stress. They are in growth mode — not merely survival mode.

In other words, operations leaders are both ahead of the pack and unafraid of moving forward. All because they have the right data and technology foundation already in place.

Not a bad place to be in times of adversity or not.

Find out how you can modernize your operations:

Operational Maturity Is Critical to Business Success



Derek Mitsumori

Marketing Manager