Business leaders are prioritizing experience, presenting new opportunities for technologists

By James Harvey, CTO Advisor EMEA, Cisco Observability.

  • Saturday, 13th April 2024 Posted 1 month ago in by Phil Alsop

Applications and digital services are now the front door for organizations in almost every sector, the platform for brands to drive customer engagement and grow revenue. They are also playing a vital role in optimizing workforce productivity and operational efficiency.

Little wonder then that digital experience is establishing itself as a permanent and important discussion point within boardrooms around the world. In recent research conducted by Cisco, 75% of senior global business leaders reported that digital experience has become a significantly more critical issue for C-level executives in their organization over the last three years.

Business leaders have realized that commercial success will increasingly hinge on their organization’s ability to deliver the innovative, intuitive and seamless digital experiences which customers now value so highly. And they are acutely aware of the consequences if their applications and digital services fail to meet this mark - in terms of loss of customers, revenue and reputation.

Across a wide range of organizations, we’re seeing senior leaders paying far closer attention to application performance. They want to measure and analyze a whole host of metrics in relation to experience - from number of unique sessions, average revenue per session and average revenue per transaction, through to ‘revenue at risk’ from potential outages, and overall user experience (based on defined workflows). Ultimately, C-level executives want to know how application performance is impacting overall business outcomes.

Of course, the onus for ensuring that applications are available, secure and performing at an optimal level, falls on technologists. Almost all of the CIOs I’ve spoken to recently have stated that they’re urgently trying to ensure that their strategies and teams are fully aligned to wider business strategy and objectives. They’re coming under increased pressure to demonstrate the impact that application performance is delivering to the business.

This laser-like focus on application performance at the highest levels of the organization (something which, let’s face it, just wasn’t there five or even three years ago) presents both opportunity and risk for technologists. On the one hand, those that are able to deliver seamless and secure digital experiences have a huge opportunity to showcase the value that they are delivering to the business, and to engage with senior leaders at a strategic level.

However, on the other hand, many technologists currently don’t have the tools and visibility required to effectively manage and optimize application performance. They’re caught in a constant cycle of firefighting, scrambling to identify and resolve issues before end users are affected. In addition, they have no way to link application performance to business metrics, and therefore they’re completely unable to show how experience is driving business value.

The spotlight is on technologists. And they need to act now to take advantage of the career-defining opportunities that lie ahead.

Business leaders want greater visibility and insight into experience

The research reveals that the performance of business-critical applications and digital services, and their impact on the business, is now reported to C-level executives on a consistent basis in as many as 80% of global organizations. Business leaders want to understand and track the experience that customers and employees are receiving when interacting with their organization through digital channels. And crucially, they want to identify the application performance and security issues which pose the biggest threat to customers. With this insight, leaders can direct their resources and investments to mitigate potential risks to revenue and reputation.

If we take, for example, the retail sector; senior leaders want to analyze performance at each stage of the customer journey, from registration and log-in, through to search and check-out. They want to map the entire workflow and then explore the speed and efficiency of each of the underlying pieces within it.

It’s the same in other industries. We’re working with financial services firms that are focussing heavily on digital experience monitoring to ensure that they’re able to compete and win against emerging and disruptive competition, and to manufacturers who are wanting to scrutinize the performance of processes across their sprawling SAP landscape.

Technologists are struggling to manage application performance and security

While many technologists will welcome this increased interest in their work from senior leaders, the reality is that many are already operating under immense strain and this additional scrutiny will only intensify the pressure in IT departments.

IT teams today find themselves managing an increasing complex and dispersed application landscape. Accelerated deployment of cloud native technologies and the shift to hybrid IT environments has left many IT teams without full visibility of their applications and underlying infrastructure, particularly where applications are running across cloud native and on premises technologies.

Many IT departments are still deploying separate monitoring tools for different elements of their application environments, and this means that technologists are unable to generate a unified view on how applications are performing. They’re being bombarded with data and have no way to cut through the noise. They can’t easily detect issues, and even when they do, it is all but impossible to quickly understand root causes and dependencies in order to fix issues before they impact end user experience.

Certainly, very few IT teams can currently track how application performance is driving overall experience, nor are they able to report to senior leaders on how experience is impacting business metrics. In short, technologists aren’t in a position to give C-level executives the insights they are increasingly demanding.

Technologists need observability to deliver exceptional experiences and become strategic operators within their organizations

In order to develop and deploy modern applications, IT teams need to implement a comprehensive full-stack observability solution. It provides expanded visibility into cloud native environments to locate and highlight availability, performance and security issues across application entities. And crucially, it generates a clear, single line of sight for applications spanning across hybrid environments. This unified visibility and insight are crucial for technologists to cut through complexity and manage soaring volumes of data.

Crucially, full-stack observability also enables IT teams to correlate application data with real-time business metrics, so that they can identify and prioritize issues and threats based on potential impact to end user experience. With a business lens on application performance data, IT teams can move beyond the firefighting and get on the front foot, focussing their skills and time on what matters most to customers and, ultimately, to their organizations.

With full-stack observability, technologists can engage with senior leaders at a strategic level, moving beyond the ‘technical’ and conversing with C-level executives in business language. They can demonstrate their understanding of the business and show how their work in delivering seamless experiences is creating meaningful business value. With almost all business leaders (98%) predicting that demand from C-level executives for visibility and reporting into digital experience will increase over the next two years, every technologist should be considering what they need to meet this challenge head on.

By implementing full-stack observability, technologists can deliver the seamless and secure digital experiences that customers expect at all times. And they can demonstrate to C-level executives how their work is creating business value, positioning themselves as highly skilled, strategic operators within their organizations.

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