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Expanding your customer base, revenue and brand through digital transformation

(Image credit: Image Credit: Chombosan / Shutterstock)

Digital transformation is changing the way enterprises and our global economy operate. The adoption of technologies ranging from IoT to AI has played a part in accelerating digital transformation efforts over the past several years, and according to IDC (opens in new tab), by 2020, 50 percent of the Global 2000 will see the majority of their business depend on their ability to create digitally-enhanced products, services, and experiences. IDC (opens in new tab) also predicts that worldwide investment in digital transformation initiatives is expected to reach $2.2 trillion by 2019 in order to facilitate the development of these information-based products and services.  

To successfully execute on a digital transformation strategy, organizations need the right combination of tools, technologies and processes––but many companies still struggle to find the right balance. A new report from PagerDuty, The State of Digital Operations UK, (opens in new tab) revealed a significant opportunity for UK organisations to improve IT practices to better support development, operations and DevOps teams in achieving successful digital transformation, as well as delivering on the promise of a seamless customer experience.  

Based on a two-part survey of over 300 IT practitioners and over 300 UK consumers, PagerDuty examined what UK consumers expect from digital experiences, how organisations are investing in supporting digital services and what tools IT teams are using to keep these services up and running. Defining digital services as anything experienced through a digital interface––like a computer, tablet or smartphone––the report found a number of key hurdles in maintaining digital services, and the IT practices that can help overcome them.

A decade ago, few people would have imagined the significant impact that digital applications have had on our lives. Today, consumers rely heavily on digital apps and services to conduct many of their daily tasks. PagerDuty’s report found that nearly all (90.6 percent) UK consumers use a digital application or service at least one or more times a week. Because these services are meant to make users’ lives more convenient by helping them complete daily tasks such as banking or finding transportation, consumers expect convenience, speed and security, and have high expectations for an uninterrupted, pleasant user experience. But what happens when one of these services doesn’t work as planned? Behind the scenes, IT teams face the increasingly complex challenge of managing new data and infrastructure, while also juggling the adoption and management of new technologies and processes such as incident management, automation and orchestration tools.

According to the study, IT pros in the UK feel confident in their organisations’ ability to support digital service offerings effectively, yet many organisations still experience consumer-impacting incidents at least one or more times a week. Nearly all IT personnel (87.4 percent) said their organisation takes more than five minutes to resolve IT incidents that impact consumer-facing digital services. Considering that most consumers (81.2 percent) said they would wait just one minute or less for a slow or unresponsive application before leaving to use a different app or service, increasing the chances that customers are lost during the precious minutes it takes to get things back up and running. The study also found that most IT organisations (67.1 percent) said they face consumer-impacting incidents at least one or more times a week. Another 15.3 percent of IT teams experience this type of incident several times a day. Along with the amount of time consumers frequently use digital applications on daily basis, these challenges can be detrimental to an organisation, putting them at constant risk of losing customers and revenue due to the length of time it takes to resolve these issues.      

The study also showed that the rise in digital service offerings has created new challenges for IT organisations to overcome such as an increased difficulty in capacity planning as the most common challenge. This means that it’s harder for these organisations to predict growth and business needs due to the increased volume of data and demands. It also means IT incidents are no longer just the IT organization’s problem–– these incidents now have a direct impact on stakeholders in the lines of business, affecting sales, research and development, accounting and finance, marketing, customer service and production teams. In fact, over one third of respondents in the study said that on average, an hour of downtime costs their organisation between £500,000 to £5 million. The report also noted that despite IT incidents having a costly impact on organisations, only 16.3 percent of organisations prioritise informing business stakeholders after a disruption occurs and less than half of organisations (45.3 percent) contacted affected customers or users. 

How Can Organisations Better Prepare for Digital Transformation

Embracing a DevOps culture is important to the growth of a business and is shown to help businesses better prepare for digital transformation. The State of Digital Operations study showed that development and DevOps teams were able to resolve consumer-facing incident faster than ITOps teams. In fact, 61.1 percent of developers reported they resolve a consumer-facing incident in under fifteen minutes and 20 percent of developers said under five minutes. At the same time, survey findings revealed that IT Operations groups respond to incidents slower—41.1 percent of ITOps respondents reported the ability resolve an incident in under 15 minutes and just 7.8 percent reported under five minutes. 

In order to compete with the rise of digital services, IT organisations need to establish a digital operations strategy that includes practices such as DevOps, event management and incident management, and there are a number of tools that can help with this. PagerDuty’s report found the top practices used by organisations to feel effectively prepared for digital services were incident management (42.3 percent), DevOps (34.9 percent), continuous integration (32.6 percent), ChatOps (29.3 percent) and Agile development (28.3 percent).

The report also revealed that monitoring plays an important role in helping organisations support digital service offerings effectively. Security monitoring was also found to be the top DevOps and ITOps tool used by IT organisations to feel effectively prepared to prevent disruptions in the customer’s digital experience. Survey results also indicated other DevOps and ITOps services such as infrastructure monitoring and application monitoring, play a critical role in helping organisations support digital service offerings effectively. By adopting these tools and practices, organisations can reduce downtime and narrow the gap between IT performance and customer expectations, ultimately lower operating costs and strengthening brand reputation.    

Eric Sigler, Head of DevOps at PagerDuty (opens in new tab) 

Image Credit: Chombosan / Shutterstock

Eric Sigler is the Head of DevOps at PagerDuty, helping protect its customers from the pains of downtime. Before his current role, Eric led infrastructure teams at Minted, Expensify, and the Missouri University of Science and Technology.