Arguably more than anything else, digital transformation has been the foremost strategic priority for businesses during the pandemic. With the world around us changing almost overnight, organizations have had to pivot their entire go-to-market propositions to digital channels in order to meet customer needs and enable their workforces to operate remotely during lockdown restrictions.

Organizations rushed through innovation programs which would previously have taken years to plan and execute in a matter of weeks and months. In fact, a recent study found the timeline for the implementation of major strategic transformation projects accelerated threefold during 2020.

More than a year after the pandemic started, there are still no signs that the pace of digital transformation will slow any time soon. Nearly nine in 10 technologists (88 per cent) predict that the biggest challenge they will face this year will be the need to drive through transformation at speed. Having seen the impact that large-scale innovation has delivered for both customers and internal operations, business leaders will continue to invest heavily in new technologies.

Beyond the firefighting

Technologists know that they will need to continue to deliver rapid innovation, and the flawless digital experiences that customers and employees now expect at all times. They are excited about the opportunities this will bring over the next 12 months, to make an impact on their organization and to fulfill their own ambitions and potential.

However, the aforementioned research reveals that many technologists are becoming increasingly concerned that they don’t have the right tools to measure and report on the impact of technology and new digital transformation initiatives on their organization. Measurement has been black and white; is digital transformation enabling us to serve customers and stay in business? But such an approach isn’t sustainable, and 72 per cent of technologists report that whilst they accelerated innovation in 2020, they are now concerned that they don’t have the tools to maximize the full potential of this investment in 2021.

Lack of visibility is a threat to ongoing innovation and customer retention

Technologists point to a lack of visibility across what has suddenly become an expanding IT estate, built on a patchwork of legacy and cloud technologies. Rapid digital transformation, and in particular a dramatic shift towards cloud computing, has seen IT teams being bombarded with overwhelming volumes of data and massive complexity. This has made it almost impossible to cut through the noise to quickly and easily identify the root causes of technology performance issues and, critically, prioritize fixes based on potential impact to customers and the business.

Many technologists are still having to rely on multiple, disconnected monitoring solutions to track performance across their IT estate, and fewer still are able to correlate IT performance insights with real-time business data to make smart, informed decisions which drive maximum business value. As many as 66 per cent of technologists say they lack the strategy and tools to effectively measure how technology decisions impact business outcomes.

The consequences of not having the right level of insight into the performance of the whole technology stack are profound: difficulties in prioritizing IT innovation; the creation of technology silos and wasted investment; and loss of revenue and customers due to performance issues.

Putting the measurement back into digital transformation

Without a doubt, businesses will continue to innovate at speed to react to an ever-changing and turbulent marketplace, and they will continue to empower their IT departments to take the lead when it comes to investment and implementation of new technologies.

But there will soon come a time when IT budgets will once again start to be scrutinized in more detail, and business leaders will want cold hard data to evaluate the impact of technology investments.

Technologists therefore need to get on the front foot and ensure they have the right level of visibility to monitor and measure performance across the full IT stack. Additionally, they need to be able to directly link technical performance to business outcomes to show how digital transformation (and their own hard work) is driving the business forward.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
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Joe Byrne
Joe Byrne is a Regional CTO at AppDynamics, a part of Cisco. His primary focus is on working with customers and prospects on APM strategy and helping with digital transformations. He also works closely with Sales, Marketing, Product and Engineering on product strategy. Prior to AppDynamics, Joe held technology leadership roles at Albertsons, EllieMae and Johnson and Johnson.