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Beyond the Pandemic: How Agents of Transformation Will Deliver a Lasting Legacy of Innovation
July 13, 2020 Blog


Authored by: Jim Cavanaugh, Vice-President, Asia Pacific and Japan, Cisco AppDynamics

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a wake-up call for businesses. The world of work has likely changed forever. Teams have become virtual, with employees embracing collaboration tools and video conferencing technology as part of their day-to-day roles. Organisations have moved huge sections of their business online, redefining their operations and strategies to meet new customer demands.

This change has been rapid, but the effects will be long lasting. A recent study from AppDynamics (The Agents of Transformation Report 2020: COVID-19 Special Edition) found that 95 percent of technologists reported that their organisation’s technology priorities changed during the pandemic. Furthermore, according to a recent McKinsey study, 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.

The so-called ‘new normal’ for businesses has been driven forward and underpinned by an unprecedented level of technology innovation and change. Technologists have faced significant pressure and unexpected challenges, but will they emerge stronger as a result? And could the presence of Agents of Transformation – technologists who possess the skills, ambition and vision required to drive innovation – be the difference between success and failure?


New demands and speed of change pile on the pressure for IT

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

Some of this pressure derives from new demands being placed on technologists. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed are now being asked to perform tasks and activities they have never done before.

Furthermore, change has happened at speed and without warning. 73 percent of technologists said that business leaders were approving digital transformation projects in just days or weeks, which they would have previously deliberated on for months, or even years. A similar number (71 per cent) pointed to digital transformation projects that have 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 organisations. 65 percent of technologists report they have implemented digital transformation projects during the pandemic that were previously dismissed as unnecessary – these are projects that would never have happened had it not been for COVID-19! Furthermore, a Fortune 500 CEO study, found that three-quarters of CEOs believe the coronavirus pandemic will accelerate their technological transformation.


Pandemic puts digital customer experience in the spotlight

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

88 percent state that the digital customer experience is now the priority for their organisation but 80 percent feel held back from delivering the optimal customer experience because of a lack of visibility and insight into the performance of their technology stack.

Some of 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).

More than ever, applications are crucial to business performance, and technologists must find ways to ensure they have access to the tools and accurate data they need to make informed, strategic decisions in real-time, and 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, organisations should be concerned about the future success of 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 organisations to focus on digital business and longer term resilience.


Step-forward the Agents of Transformation

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 have faced, many IT professionals see this as an opportunity to step-up and raise their profile within their organisation.

In the Agents of Transformation 2020 report, 76 percent of respondents say they 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 believe the pandemic will separate the strong from the weak in tech teams across the world. We’re seeing a new breed of technologists, primed to deliver transformation and business impact.

Technologists are seizing the opportunity to accelerate their career journey 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 they need to make smarter decisions, the right internal structures and culture, and close support from strategic technology partners, technologists can guide their organisations through the COVID-19 crisis. Furthermore, the changes they implement in their organisations will have a lasting and positive impact.

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