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The legacy of innovation: How Agents of Transformation will deliver beyond the pandemic

(Image credit: Image Credit: Fancycrave1 / Pixabay)

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be a wake up call for businesses. The world of work has likely changed forever. Teams moved almost overnight to virtual meetings and remote work, with employees rapidly embracing collaboration tools and technology as a ‘new normal’ within their roles. Organizations have moved vast sections of their business online, quickly redefining their operations and strategies to meet new customer demands that resulted from the pandemic.

These changes have been rapid, but the effects will be long lasting. A recent study from AppDynamics, The Agents of Transformation Report 2020: Covid-19 Special Edition (opens in new tab), found that 95 percent of technologists reported that their organization’s technology priorities changed during the pandemic. Furthermore, more than 90 percent of executives expect the fallout from Covid-19 to fundamentally change the way they do business over the next five years, with almost as many asserting that the crisis will have a lasting impact on their customers’ needs, according to a recent McKinsey study.

Unprecedented level of technology innovation and change has driven the so-called ‘new normal’ for businesses. Technologists continue to face significant pressure and unexpected challenges, but will they emerge stronger as a result? And could the presence of Agents of Transformation - those technologists who possess the vision, skills, and ambition required to drive innovation - be the vital difference between success and failure?

Under pressure: new demands and speed of change for IT

61 percent of technologists surveyed in the Agents of Transformation 2020 Report acknowledged feeling more under pressure at work than ever before. The research showed how technologists are experiencing demands from all sides, accelerating digital transformation projects, mobilizing huge sections of the workforce to operate remotely, while at the same time needing to manage the network and maintain security and resilience throughout the technology stack.

This pressure partly derives from the new and increasing demands being placed on technologists. In fact, almost two-thirds of those surveyed are now being asked to perform tasks and activities they have never done before.

Furthermore, many of these changes happened at speed and without warning. 73 percent of technologists reported that business leaders are now approving digital transformation projects within just days or weeks, which they would have previously have deliberated on for months, or even years. A similar number (71 percent) pointed to digital transformation projects that have now actually been implemented within weeks rather than the months or years it would have taken before the pandemic.

Covid-19 has proven to be an enforced catalyst for change amongst even the most risk-averse businesses.  A Fortune 500 CEO study, found that three-quarters of CEOs believe the coronavirus pandemic will accelerate their technological transformation. Furthermore, 65 percent of technologists said they have implemented digital transformation projects during the pandemic that were previously dismissed as unnecessary - these are projects that would never have got off the ground had it not been for Covid-19.

Digital customer experience in the spotlight

Without doubt, the rule book for digital transformation has been completely re-written, though not all technologists feel equipped to deal with these new challenges.

88 percent report that the digital customer experience is now the top priority for their organization, but 80 percent feel held back from delivering the optimal customer experience due to a lack of visibility and insight into their technology stack performance.

The biggest challenges in delivering seamless customer experiences during the pandemic include: managing spikes in website traffic (81 percent), lack of unified visibility and insight into performance of the technology stack and its impact on customers (80 percent), and managing mean time to resolution (MTTR) with a remote IT department (70 percent).

What’s clear, is that more than ever, applications are crucial to business performance, and technologists must ensure they have access to accurate data that they need to make informed, strategic decisions in real-time, and to connect application and digital performance to key business outcomes - application performance monitoring (APM) has become absolutely critical.

Without access to APM tools and the visibility and insight they provide, organizations should be concerned about the future success of digital transformation projects. Certainly, some technologists are nervous that future-proofing is taking a back seat. 76 percent of technologists express concern about the longer-term impact of digital transformation initiatives they have had to implement during Covid-19. Overall, 87 percent of technologists state that the pandemic is a wake-up call to their organizations to focus on digital business and longer term resilience.

Agents of Transformation step forward

Perhaps the major differentiator for success at this time is the quality, attitude and outlook of the technologists themselves. Rather than shy away from the challenges they face, many IT professionals see this as an opportunity to step-up and raise their profile within their organization.

76 percent of respondents believe that rapid technological advances over the coming years will present them with greater opportunities to develop their careers and skills. A further 79 percent think the pandemic will separate the strong from the weak in tech teams throughout the world. We’re really seeing a new breed of technologists, primed to deliver transformation and business impact.

Technologists are now seizing the opportunity to accelerate their career and assume the role of Agents of Transformation immediately. 83 percent say that Agents of Transformation are critical in order for businesses to recover quickly from the Covid-19 pandemic: there is an urgent need for technologists to operate at the highest level of their profession.

A force for positive change

Armed with the data and insight required to make smarter decisions, the right internal structures and culture, and close support from strategic technology partners, technologists can guide their organizations through the Covid-19 crisis. Furthermore, the changes they implement in their organizations will have a long-lasting and positive impact.

It will be these Agents of Transformation and their skill and vision that will determine how businesses are able to navigate this turbulent period and emerge stronger on the other side. Agents of Transformation can truly deliver a lasting legacy of innovation, leaving businesses stronger and more resilient beyond the pandemic.

James Harvey, EMEA CTO, Cisco AppDynamics (opens in new tab)

James Harvey is the EMEA CTO at Cisco AppDynamics, working with clients to convert performance insights into business outcomes. He is also responsible for setting AppDynamics’ regional product strategy. Before joining Cisco AppDynamics he held various positions in IT leadership at New Look, BP, Royal Bank of Scotland and ABN AMRO Bank.