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Newly minted DevOps consultancy roams world, looking for CIOs in pain

Investors flash $30m for Contino/Clutch combo

London-based DevOps consultancy Contino has merged with a US-based counterpart with the combined entity getting a $30m cash boost from investment group Columbia Capital.

The combined group will be making a play for the digital transformation business that has become an increasingly lucrative part of the Agile and DevOps game, and which they reckon will be hitting the flush financial services sector anytime now.

Contino was started a few years by Ben Wootton and Matt Farmer, both of whom have backgrounds in financial service tech. The new organisation will be headed by former Clutch CEO Steven Anderson. Wootton will be vp for technology in Europe, while Farmer becomes GM for Europe. Clutch principal Jerome Gagner will be vp for technology in Europe. The firm has appointed former CA global transformation lead Justin-Vaughan-Brown as vp of marketing.

The combined business has 45 employees. While the longer-term plan is still being modelled, Wootton said the combined outfit planned to boost both revenues and headcount by two to four times over the next year.

“I really think [DevOps] is going to go exponential this year. It’s been worked into budgets. People have trialled it. I think the money flowing in is a validation.”

The firm will be looking to pull-in recognised thought leaders - something the DevOps world is arguably not short of - but Wooton emphasised it would be going after people with practical experience working with enterprises.

A crop of new – or, at least, newly rebranded consultancies – are offering a combination of DevOps and transformation services, while the traditional consultancies are also targeting the market.

Wootton said one key difference between firms like Contino – sorry, Sendachi – and traditional consultancies, was they were not focused on creating a “dependency culture” amongst their clients. The emphasis was on showing them how to apply DevOps and Agile tools and methodologies, often as IT work is onshored and brought back in house, so they could ultimately look after themselves.

“We’ve always felt it’s more about improving the client’s own capability rather than doing the work for them. You’re not going to turn around a 10,000 strong company with pizza and beer,” he added.

“People say DevOps is a culture. I just find that a bit inactionable. I want a list of concrete things which I do. And that’s what enabled us to be successful... the culture is emergent from concrete activities.”

When phrases like DevOps are mentioned, disruption and transformation are rarely far behind.

While DevOps and Agile are perhaps more associated with startups, Wooton said traditional CIOS were not looking askance at the firm. “They feel they have to do something and make big bold bet. I don’t think it’s an age or millennial thing.”

“Where we’re really successful is where the CEO is telling the CIO to transform their organisation.”

“I think it’s about the pain they feel, that’s what I look for when I start talking to a customer – where’s the pain?”

Retail and e-commerce had been two of the areas that have already embraced DevOps and similar ideas, said Wootton. Retail insurance companies were diving in right now, while the broader financial services market was “on the precipice” Wootton argued.

The current markets turmoil would not throw this off track Wootton predicted. Rather it would force the pace, “because of those trends, businesses are feeling more and more pressure to be better, faster, cheaper.”

Highly skilled people might cost more individually, but in aggregate costs less. “Companies are crying out for talent. We want to improve that software development culture within organisations. That’s the ultimate goal, make them more attractive places to work.” ®

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