How COVID-19 could be the trigger for lasting innovation [Q&A]

digital transformation

For many enterprise organizations the COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis to be managed. But could it actually be a catalyst to deliver a lasting legacy of technical innovation?

James Harvey, EMEA CTO at Cisco AppDynamics thinks it can be. We spoke to him to find out more.

BN: How have IT priorities changed during the pandemic?

JH: Organizations have had to rapidly adapt to respond to unprecedented customer and employee demands. With little chance to prepare, IT departments have faced an entirely new set of priorities around delivering the infrastructure, applications and security required to maintain world-class digital experiences. All this while grappling with surging demand and urgency to accelerate digital transformation and go-to-market strategies.

According to the latest Agents of Transformation Report 2020: COVID-19 Special Edition, in the UK, we've seen technologists' priorities change at 95 percent of organizations surveyed, with 85 percent saying that the digital customer experience is now their highest priority. This perhaps isn't too surprising but as application complexity and customer demands increase the business becomes more dependent on IT, and we know that consumers are increasingly unforgiving of poor digital experiences. Now more than ever, applications are crucial to business performance

BN: What pressure has this put on support teams?

JH: Support teams have always been under pressure to deliver at pace. This has only intensified as a result of COVID-19. In fact, as the report shows, 82 percent of technologists state that COVID-19 has created the biggest technology pressure for their organization that they have ever experienced. To put this into context -- 68 percent of those surveyed stated that digital transformation projects which would typically take more than a year to be approved, have been signed off in a matter of weeks.

These tight turnaround times have meant that there is little time for future-proofing and lengthy planning cycles -- many organizations are only able to focus on the immediate and short-term results. Globally 59 percent admit that they are firefighting and introducing short-term fixes to technology problems and 76 percent express concern about the longer-term impact of digital transformation initiatives they have had to rush through during COVID-19.

Technologists are experiencing pressures from all sides, accelerating digital transformation projects, mobilizing huge sections of the workforce to operate from home, while at the same time needing to manage their network and maintain security throughout the technology stack.

Despite that, I believe that companies will see the benefit, as they realize the value of delivering constant exceptional digital experiences for their customers.

BN: What do enterprises need to do to ensure they make better tech choices?

JH: Organizations across all sectors and industries are now recognizing that having real-time visibility and insight into their application performance, to identify and resolve issues immediately, is critical. This enables businesses to make informed decisions to make short- and long-term gains while delivering world-class digital experiences.

Having visibility into the full technology stack, including application, network and infrastructure, allows for timely course-corrections, which have never been so crucial when having to remain 'always on'.

To navigate this turbulent period, organizations must provide the support and environment their technologists need to accelerate digital transformation and deliver the positive business outcomes for their organizations.

BN: Why is data key to this decision making?

JH: Technologists must ensure they have access to the tools and accurate data required. This is key to making informed, strategic decisions in real time. 89 percent of technologists in the UK say that having real-time access at the point of need is a key area where they need support right now.

As outstanding digital experiences become the norm and appetite for services continues to soar, brands must ensure they deliver personalized, intuitive customer experiences. Through real-time data, IT teams can gain a unique advantage in delivering this, while prioritizing resources. This allows IT decision makers to see the bigger picture, understand how customers interact with applications, how performance impacts these interactions, as well as resolve issues at the right time.

BN: How important is support from technology partners?

JH: Strategic technology partners are vital in helping businesses and IT teams navigate this difficult period. Interestingly, 61 percent of technologists say they are accessing free or heavily discounted software, services, support and training from trusted technology partners and vendors in a bid to tackle the technology challenges of COVID-19. A robust ecosystem of technology partners means that businesses can accelerate modern technology adoption and provide the best user experiences possible.

Running today's complex IT environments while delivering tangible outcomes is challenging - that’s why businesses need established, stable and trusted vendors who show flexibility and support during COVID-19.

Photo Credit: Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock

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