Technologists are under the spotlight as C-level executives focus their attention on digital experience

James Harvey

By James Harvey, CTO Advisor EMEA, Cisco Observability

Digital experience has become a major strategic priority for C-level executives and a permanent fixture on board meeting agendas. Indeed, 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 organisation over the last three years.

The reason for this is simple. With applications and digital services now the primary vehicle for most organisations to drive customer engagement, boost workforce productivity and accelerate revenue growth, digital experience is now vital to commercial success. Business leaders know that in order to meet their operational and financial objectives, they have to be able to provide end users (both customers and employees) with intuitive, seamless and secure digital experiences.

Consumers around the world are now completely unforgiving when it comes to bad digital experiences and they’re actively looking to punish brands whose applications fail to meet their expectations. Business leaders have evidently woken up to these ongoing shifts in consumer attitudes and behaviours and they realise that even a minor slip up in application performance can result in huge damage to reputation and revenue.

That’s why we’re now seeing senior leaders paying far closer attention to application performance and scrutinising how digital experience is impacting business metrics, in both a positive and negative way. In fact, 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 organisations.

For technologists, the pressure is on to ensure that applications are available, secure and performing at an optimal level at all times. They find themselves operating under a microscope, with senior leaders demanding ever greater levels of digital experience and constantly looking for improvements to drive wider operational and financial results.

I’ve spoken to many CIOs recently, and they’re all telling me that they’re feeling the heat. Their teams are being expected to deliver innovation at ever greater speeds, whilst also maintaining exceptional levels of service. In addition, they’re being asked to measure and demonstrate the business value that IT applications and digital services are creating.

Of course, this heightened focus on experience presents technologists with a unique opportunity to display their skills, showcase their knowledge of the business, and prove how they are delivering business impact. The problem is, however, that very few currently have the tools and insights they need to actually do so.

Business leaders want greater visibility and insight into experience

Across all sectors, C-level executives are looking to understand and measure the experience that customers are enjoying (or otherwise) when engaging with their organisation through digital channels. As an example, senior retail leaders want to analyse performance at every stage of the customer journey, from sign-up and log-in, through to search, comparison and check-out. They’re looking to map the entire workflow and then explore how each of the underlying pieces within it could be optimised.

Elsewhere, in financial services organisations, leaders are doubling down on digital experience monitoring to ensure that they’re able to compete and win against emerging and disruptive competition, and within manufacturing, they’re looking to evaluate and optimise the performance of each and every process across their SAP landscapes.

Ultimately, C-level executives now want to be able to identify the application performance and security issues which pose the biggest threat to customers. This insight can then enable them to prioritise resources and investments to mitigate potential risks to revenue and reputation.

Technologists are being held back by complexity

While most technologists will welcome the fact that senior leaders are recognising the importance of their work, and will want to seize the opportunity to demonstrate their value, the unfortunate truth is that many aren’t in a position to do so.

As anybody who works in IT will know, technologists are struggling to manage an ever more dynamic and fragmented application landscape, without the visibility and insights they need to identify, understand and resolve issues in a timely way. Rapid deployment of cloud native technologies and the shift to hybrid IT environments has led to IT teams being engulfed by overwhelming volumes of data and crippling levels of complexity, and most technologists simply don’t have the tools to filter out the noise and pinpoint the issues that matter most.

Much of the problem stems from the fact that IT departments are still deploying multiple, disconnected monitoring tools across their application environments, and so they can’t generate a unified view on how applications are performing. 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. They’re caught on the back foot, constantly firefighting and scrambling to identify and resolve issues before applications suffer disruption or downtime.

Indeed, the reality is that very few technologists would currently claim to be able to accurately measure how application performance is impacting business outcomes. And so, to put it bluntly, most technologists can’t really provide C-level executives with the data and insights they’re looking for.

Full-stack observability is vital for technologists to meet C-level demands

The answer to this growing challenge in the IT department is full-stack observability. It provides technologists with expanded visibility into cloud native environments and a clear 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. full-stack observability makes it easy for IT teams to locate and understand availability, performance and security issues across application entities, leading to faster resolution times and enhanced levels of digital experience.

It also enables IT teams to correlate application data with real-time business metrics, so that they can identify and prioritise issues and threats based on potential impact to end user experience. With a business lens on application performance data, IT teams can take a more proactive approach, focussing their time and skills on the tasks that will deliver the biggest benefit to customers and the business.

Importantly, full-stack observability enables technologists to measure and report on how application performance is driving business outcomes, directly meeting the demands of C-level executives in their organisations. This provides a platform for technologists to consistently showcase the value of their work and to engage with senior leaders as strategic operators within the organisation. And we’ve seen from many of our clients how game changing this can be in terms of elevating their credibility and fast tracking their careers.

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, the message for technologists is clear: act now to ensure you have the tools and insights required to take advantage of the exciting opportunities this presents.


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