A Retrospective: Top 10 Takeaways from the Agile Engineering Summit

By | 4 minute read | October 22, 2018

What did we learn at the 5th annual Agile Engineering Summit last week in Washington, DC? If you weren’t able to make it, or if you just had to pick which sessions to attend, we’ve compiled the top highlights for you.

1. Best. Format. Ever.

Attendees raved over the format of this year’s Agile Engineering Summit, giving praise for the more intimate sizing (about 350 total attendees) and the strong mix of software engineers, architects, developers, testers and integrators coming together for networking. Quality over quantity, right? Everyone enjoyed three full days of deep diving tracks, open labs, demos, round tables, analyst meetings and executive briefings. The Sunday evening invitation-only VoiCE sessions brought over 100 clients to engage with IBM Offering and Product Managers and technical development leads, while the Women in Technology lunch on Tuesday was a big hit among both women and men.

Women in technology at the AE Summit

The Women in Technology luncheon at the AE Summit generated great career advice for both men and women in tech.

 2. MBSE is trending.

Model Based Systems Engineering is gaining more and more traction as more companies are embracing the challenge of implementing it in their organizations. Lynn Greetis, a Systems Engineer from Northrop Grumman explained how they are using MBSE for training as experienced engineers age out. Meanwhile IBM’s Chief Evangelist, Bruce Douglass put it in plain English: “You need models to do agile engineering at scale.”

3. Analysts agree, product vs. project.

“If you enable your software to help companies create more product focus teams, then you will be successful,” said Forrester analyst, Jeffrey Hammond. He explained that the companies that are switching from project to product focused teams are able to create efficiencies across a breadth of products. He went on to tackle the disconnect between design and operational digital twins, explaining that the reason for the gap is due to data ownership issues between teams.

4. Watson for Requirements just makes sense.

Stella Liu, Offering Manager for Watson IoT, painted a picture of every engineer’s dream – a world where you can have your very own expert system for managing requirements. She went on to explain that poor requirements leads to three failed projects for every one success, costing $2.2M more on average. Watson IoT technology provides assistance by assessing and recommending changes to requirements for improving quality and review time. Access to your requirements management environment is always available, facilitating facilitating greater collaboration and improved time to market.

“People expect technology to solve a problem, and it always does, it’s just a matter of time.” – Barclay Brown, Engineering Fellow, Raytheon

5. Despite growing complexity, the future is bright for IBM’s Software and Systems Engineering portfolio.

“It’s like trying to do a heart transplant in the middle of a marathon,” said Willert Software’s owner and CTO, Walter van der Heiden, and everyone agrees. With the incredible pace of change and increasing complexity for requirements and systems modeling, advancements in technology will help us address this complexity. Learn more from Walter van der Heiden by watching his Facebook live interview.

6. Watson AI is about creating intelligent systems that help humans do better.

Engineers are today’s Renaissance men and women, creating and managing the explosion of new ideas in math, science and software innovation. They are faced with the dilemma of managing increased complexity, such as cars that contain 300 million lines of code. We have taught Watson to think like engineers, which in turn enables us to think like a thousand engineers. And just think, Watson AI will learn, never get tired, never move to another job. As Raytheon’s Barclay Brown put it, “When designing conversational systems, think ‘Play Doh’ not Plato.”

Graeme Noseworthy and Walter van de Heiden talk requirements management on Facebook live.

7. Agile is becoming even more, well, agile.

Enterprise Scaled Agile (SAFe) expert, Amy Silberbauer, explained the importance of adopting lean and agile principles everywhere, top-down, bottom-up, building quality into the process by aligning requirements, construction and testing. She went on to demonstrate how validating quality at every increment, leveraging MBSE, design thinking, and developing a single source of truth, allows teams to deliver value more predictably. And Director of Technology for Smarter Process and Island Training, Bartosz Chrabski praised IBM’s Rational Team Concert for its GIT integration capabilities, which has 69% market share for source management.

8. Engineers get Sass-y with Agile.

There was robust discussion around leveraging Saas to help reduce capital expense and get requirements moving faster. Did you know that if you’re already using tokens for different parts of IBM’s software and systems engineering portfolio, you can easily convert your tokens into the as-a-service framework without incurring additional cost!

9. Software and systems engineers can have fun, too.

Many attendees were eager to jump on a Facebook live video or play a game of ‘Full Stack’ while talking about topics like requirements management, agile development and MBSE. Stay tuned for a new video mini series that will feature a mix of IBMers and clients going head to head over a game of engineering a larger-than-life structure not to topple over.

IBM product experts were on hand to answer questions and walk through demos at the Agile Engineering Summit.

10. G2Crowd reviews raised $600 for Girls Who Code.

By partnering with G2Crowd at the event, attendees were invited to provide a review of their experience using IBM’s products, which compares business software and services based on user ratings and social data. The incentive for providing a review was a donation to Girls Who Code, totaling over $600.

“This event was actually was one of the best for Persistent as far as customer interactions go. I’m looking forward to the April event.” Charlie Babb, Associate VP, Persistent Systems

So that’s a wrap for this year’s AE Summit, many thanks to those who were able to attend. And we’re already gearing up for our next event in April, the IBM IoT Exchange in Orlando. Don’t wait to register – tickets will go fast!