Contestability is key

As organisations continue to mature their adoption of next generation technologies such as cloud (both public and private), microservices, containers and software defined infrastructure, ensuring maximal return through the prevention of lock-in and greatest adoption to realise reduced time to market and increased agility is key to success.

Contestability is one mechanism that enables organisations to achieve these goals.  The OECD defines contestability as a market where the following conditions are met;

  • There are no barriers to entry or exit,
  • All firms, both incumbent and potential entrants, have access to the same production technology,
  • There is perfect information on prices, available to all consumers and firms,
  • Entrants can enter and exit before incumbents can adjust prices

From a technology perspective, the two primary enablers of achieving contestability are software defined solutions and measurement.  If you can’t measure something, you are blind and you are unable to improve what you can’t measure.  The second is to chose software defined solutions.  Software can run anywhere.  Hardware or appliance based solutions are physically “stuck” in whatever deployment footprint that vendor decides you’re going to use.

The ability to chose providers and platforms that meet your current and future, ever changing, requirements is key.  Choosing technology products with well defined interfaces that allow for both component replacement as well as reuse enables rapid deployment of new solutions as well as reducing the learning curve allowing for faster adoption.

All of these lead to increased agility, reduced time to market as well as enabling information technology to be more of an enabler.  Which is really the whole point.  IT isn’t there as an end in itself, it’s merely a step on the journey of business delivery.

Being able to measure the cost and return of platforms and suppliers allows an organisation to chose the right solution at that time for that project.  It may be that the right platform or supplier changes over time, sometimes long periods, sometimes shorter.  But being able to measure the cost and impact is key.  Without this, you are blind and unable to make decisions with the right information.

You can’t improve what you don’t measure.

Contestability allows an organisation to leverage a mix of providers and technologies that best suits their requirements at that time.  A well executed contestability strategy enables, and even encourages, those choices to be constantly tested and changed in response to market forces or changes in business needs.



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