Doing Technology, 21st-Century Style

This week I was interviewed by In that interview I made reference to doing IT the 21st-century way. What does that mean for a technology-led consumer internet company like the NET-A-PORTER Group? I thought I’d outline my vision for “how things will feel” in the near future.

Here are some thoughts, in no particular order:

  • Autonomous, empowered agile delivery teams working in tight feedback loops with their business partners, quickly delivering value because they have all the resources at their disposal to deliver end-to-end.
  • Clear architectural principles and patterns, collaboratively created and universally adopted, ensuring we do best-in-class engineering that’s simple, resilient, fast, secure, maintainable, lean.
  • Continuous Delivery pipelines created from well-supported, universally available tooling that enables push-button check-in through to production deployment, inheriting all the appropriate security, operations and change-management audit points from that tooling.
  • IT Operations and Corporate IT with best-in-class network, systems and application monitoring & management, with wide adoption of SAAS and cloud for on-demand scaling and efficiency.
  • An abundance of freely available information regarding mutually agreed metrics allowing us to understand, and thereby improve, our performance, including widespread information radiators (a.k.a. big visible charts) for both delivery and operations.
  • A culture of commercial awareness, collaboration, innovation and engagement; because at NET-A-PORTER we are the best IT team, getting stuff done, doing IT the 21st-century way, unafraid to experiment, leveraging technical debt, failing fast and excelling operationally.

I could go on. What this’ll feel like is we’ll all be swimming with, not against, the tide. The ‘machine’ will be helping us, not hindering us. We’ll spend time delivering, not working around problems. We’ll see our efforts quickly and directly realise commercial benefits such as cost reduction, additional revenue or customer satisfaction.

From the people I’ve met, I observe we’ve got great ingredients and we’ve got some great practices here at NET-A-PORTER. I am excited about incrementally adding elements of best practice to the way we do business here. I am determined to identify what we can change that unlocks the most potential and is most achievable, and to do those things.

So, first things first, we’ve recently reorganised to improve our alignment between technology and the business, but what’s next? Less manual testing and less reliance on hard-to-maintain test environments, embedding of systems administration skills within the development teams, more data capture, in-office information radiators, agreed architectural and design principles, continued refactoring of our web applications and service orientation, improved issue management traceability and tracking, better monitoring, and improved security controls are on my mind as I write.

NET-A-PORTER is a great place to work. A brilliant business with enthusiastic, innovative technical teams desperate to deliver value. Our vision for doing IT will take us to the next level. If you’d like to join us, start here.


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