The benefits of DevOps are often portrayed in terms of how they improve IT, but at one large company, DevOps automation has made everyone more productive.
By building a DevOps culture, Allstate Corporation developers can quickly create and iterate on applications for workers in the field and customers to access and update insurance information.
"As the claims divisional CIO, I'm supporting a workforce out in the field that's over 16,000 people," said Opal Perry, divisional CIO of claims at Allstate in Northbrook, Ill., in an interview at the DevOps Enterprise Summit conference in San Francisco last month. "It's also really important to put technology into their hands that enables them to do the best job they can."
Self-service technology also assists customers to get back on the road more quickly if they've been in an auto accident or back into their homes quicker if there's been damage to property.
Allstate's IT decisions were mostly made along cost lines in the past, but in many cases customer retention and differentiated software features now take precedence over cost savings. Greater alignment with product teams to get new features out the door quickly is also a priority for IT at Allstate, and the skills involved go beyond technical capabilities. Instilling a set of values in employees around collaboration and the benefits of DevOps is equally necessary.
"If we focus on the values and end goals, we get out of overly obsessing about who does what, and [think] more [about], 'How do we just get it done?'" Perry said.
Looking ahead, Allstate will bring in new internet of things technologies such as sensors and analytics next year to improve its cloud-native apps. Such sensors can be put into vehicles, for example, to assess a customer's driving habits.