2021 will be the year we redefine innovation

Most people will be glad to see the back of 2020. It caused stress for workers in many industries around the world, as well as hardship for businesses, and forced people out of routines they had been used to operating in for years. It also forced the hand of businesses to innovate and roll out technology projects faster than usual. Whether it was COVID-19 contact tracing applications or contactless grocery orders, we saw the strength of IT teams working closely with the rest of the business to bring about change.

But now comes the next stage. 2021 will be a time to build on what took place in an unprecedented year and discover ways to uncover value. We’ll know exactly what outcomes our innovations are generating and thus we’ll be better informed for the steps we take in years to come. As we look to the new year, here are the top trends that will be most critical to the IT industry.

Observability will help businesses take control

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As enterprises recover, build and prepare for growth in 2021, many will be looking to take stock of their existing IT infrastructure as well as expanding the number of cloud applications they use where necessary. The risk is increasing complexity. IT teams will be looking for solutions to ensure they don’t lose sight of their applications, their networks and their effect on the wider business.

Using observability solutions will enable them to cut through the noise and focus on the priority areas for the business. It will help them to pinpoint performance issues and regain agility following a year that brought so much rapid change for technologists.

Looking beyond application observability will be key. It’s only when you incorporate network visibility into monitoring efforts that you begin to get a real handle on what’s happening and how it’s affecting the users. Whether it’s an anomaly in an application or an issue that stems from the internet, it’s important to know straight away so that the issue can be addressed promptly.

User experience will be prioritized

Technology in isolation won’t save a company. It works at its best when it enables people to do things more quickly, efficiently or with the conviction that only data insights can give. But people can only be empowered by technology if it works flawlessly. Any solution that falls over regularly and without explanation is more trouble than it’s worth. It’s therefore too short-sighted to just invest in the technology that supports people. Companies should look at the bigger picture and also invest in the resources that support that technology.

Now, more than ever, user experience is at the forefront because colleagues working remotely have to stay connected, digital transactions have to be completed and remain secure, and virtual connections have to run at all times. User experience will be a major talking point in 2021. Why? Because the users themselves are becoming increasingly expectant of how their apps and networks should perform.

The future will be more integrated

As a greater emphasis is placed on user experience, it becomes imperative for integrations to be deployed between monitoring and other services that ultimately benefit the end user. Particularly important will be the use of integrations for security - keeping user data safe is mandatory in the digital world. We’re also seeing a shift in the industry towards using open-source tools for development and monitoring that will only gather pace going into 2021.

It all boils down to the fact that customers want tools and solutions that are open to integration and enhancements that will feed into a better overall user experience. Closed off solutions can’t deliver that level of interplay between systems in the same way.

IT teams will be granted more autonomy for business success

2020 was the year that IT heads became the superheroes of their organizations. They had to react quickly, scale up digital transformation plans related to remote working and increased flexibility, and deliver on what seemed like impossible timescales. According to our Agents of Transformation Report 2020: COVID-19 Special Edition, 80 percent of technologists said the rapid response of their IT team to the pandemic positively changed the perception of IT within their organization, and 74 percent said digital transformation projects that would’ve taken years to sign off were now being approved in a matter of weeks.

2021 will be the year those same IT teams build and capitalize on the trust and equity built on their performance during the pandemic. And if technology is the driving force for impacting business outcomes, which I think it is, 2021 will be the year that the technologists step forward once again and shape the direction of travel for their business.

In the next year, things will differ because technologists will be given more freedom to take calculated risks and pursue rapid innovation, so long as it boosts positive business outcomes. But calculated risks are not the same as carefree IT spend. Business leaders will need the insights to see in real-time the effect that these innovation projects have and course correct as needed.

Image Credit: docstockmedia / Shutterstock

Ty Amell is CTO, Cisco AppDynamics. He is an experienced leader with a demonstrated history of working in the financial services industry, start-ups, and Enterprise businesses. Wide range of experience of working in start-ups, being a founder, advising start-ups, and leading global organizations at large corporations.

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