Three Strategies for Improving IT Performance and Innovation

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By Joe Byrne

Working in IT has been pretty tough over the last 18 months.

At the beginning of the pandemic, technologists stepped up to deliver the urgent digital transformation organizations needed to survive the initial shock. They worked round the clock, under the most intense pressure, to ensure their businesses could meet constantly fluctuating customer needs and enable employees to work remotely.

But, incredibly, 18 months later, we’re still in the same situation. The pressure hasn’t eased up and, in some cases, it’s only getting worse.

Organizations continue to prioritize digital transformation to navigate through the pandemic and prepare for an uncertain future. And they’re reliant on their technologists to drive this innovation and deliver world-class digital experiences to customers and employees at all times.

But it’s not the speed of transformation itself that is piling pressure onto technologists; look a bit deeper and you find that most IT professionals are actually excited about this opportunity to make a positive, lasting contribution to their organizations.

The real issue here is that most technologists simply don’t have the tools and insight they need to manage the soaring levels of complexity engulfing IT departments on the back of accelerated digital transformation. They don’t have visibility across the IT estate and they can’t cut through incessant data noise to focus their efforts in the right areas.

The result is constant firefighting in the IT department, with technologists frantically trying to identify and fix issues. This potentially causes frustration and burnout for the IT team.

The situation is exhausting, stressful and unsustainable for technologists. And, ultimately, it presents a huge risk for organizations whose success now depends on their ability to deliver flawless digital services.

In a recent study, 91% of technologists stated they need to be able to better prioritize their activity according to business outcomes rather than constantly putting out fires. With that in mind, here are three tips for technologists to leave the firefighting behind and adopt a more strategic, sustainable approach to IT innovation and performance:

1.Get full visibility across your IT estate

To escape the never-ending cycle of firefighting, you need to free up some time. The previously mentioned research found that 68% of technologists waste a lot of time because they can’t easily isolate where IT performance issues are happening.

This is why you need visibility of performance data across the entire IT estate, from traditional, legacy IT systems through to new, hybrid cloud environments. Given the current shift towards cloud computing, it’s vital to ensure you have visibility into applications and underlying infrastructure for large, managed Kubernetes environments running on public clouds as well.

With the right tools to monitor the full IT stack, from customer-facing applications down to core network and infrastructure, you can massively reduce the amount of time it takes to identify root causes of issues and understand dependencies, and you can fix these issues before they impact end users. That will free up time for you to think about other strategic initiatives as well as drive innovation and increase the speed of delivery.

2.Put a business lens on your IT data

You now have accurate and comprehensive data on IT performance, but there’s going to be an awful lot of it. You need to find a way to cut through the noise and quickly pinpoint the most critical data points.

This is why you need to connect full-stack observability with real-time business outcomes, such as customer experience, sales transactions and revenue. It will allow you to prioritize actions and investment based on what really matters to the business.

Technologists across all sectors are realizing this – 96% feel that the ability to monitor all technical areas of their IT stack and directly link technical performance to business outcomes is now important to achieving innovation goals.

When you link technology performance data with business metrics, it’s a genuine game changer. Suddenly, you can take a more proactive approach to IT performance management, making informed decisions based on real-time business impact. Having a business lens also helps validate the spend on technology is delivering the right business outcome.

3. Get ready to let AI and automation carry the strain

The amount of data organizations generate will increase exponentially over the next few years – it’s inevitable given the focus that business leaders are now placing on innovation and new digital services to drive competitive advantage.

IT teams will be asked to manage, optimize and automate an ever more complex and distributed IT estate, but it won’t be long before they simply don’t have the resources to do so effectively. What’s more, most current observability solutions will struggle to cope with the level of IT complexity and volumes of data we’ll see over the next few years.

The danger is that businesses manage to get a grip on the complexity and data deluge they face today, but very soon, they’ll be forced back into the same problem they had before.

This is why you need to start thinking about the role that automation and AI could play in removing your organization’s reliance on manual intervention to monitor and manage IT performance.

AI-enabled observability solutions have the potential to deliver real-time insights on IT performance and address anomalies before they become issues that impact customers and the business. And, they can do this without any level of human involvement. Finally, you’ll be able to deliver world-class technology performance at all times, without losing any sleep.

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.

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