Features, Insight, Opinion

AppDynamics: Managing the demands of digital transformation

David Noël, Regional Vice President, Southern Europe, Middle East & Africa at AppDynamics, has highlighted the need to protect technologists as digital transformation continues to ramp up across the region.

Despite a year fraught with challenges, the mood of UAE technologists remains surprisingly buoyant. Findings from AppDynamics’ Agents of Transformation 2021: The Rise of Full-Stack Observability report showed 80% of UAE IT professionals see the current crisis as an opportunity for them to create value for their organisation and shine, whilst 78% believe that the role of IT has never been more valuable to the business and is the greatest it has ever been.

This commitment is what made the difference last year when pandemic-related lockdowns led to great demands being made of IT teams across the country. Professional insights and hard work came together to deliver not only business continuity, but newly agile technology stacks. Some organisations did more than survive, they thrived.

Technologists delivered time after time across industries, rolling out projects in weeks that had been planned previously over many months or even years. They managed to keep up with constantly shifting business priorities and customer demands. Despite having to adapt to more complex environments, they also managed to create new and engaging digital experiences for customers and employees.

Pressure leads to stress

But while IT teams were making the lives of others easier, the Agents of Transformation research shows a degradation in the personal wellbeing of technologists themselves. Some 90% of UAE technologists report feeling considerable pressure at work, and 85% experience difficulty switching off when they get home. This is understandable. In the current economic climate, technologists likely fear making a mistake that could have cost implications for their employer.

It is therefore also unsurprising that 96% of surveyed technologists are prioritising work-life this year. This intention can be seen across industries, even among remote workers. COVID has forced us into uncomfortable conditions. Work has changed, as has life. In a Harvard Business Review study of 1,500 employees, across sectors, roles, and seniority in 46 countries, 89% said work was becoming more pressure-filled and 85% were concerned about their health and wellbeing.

As any good manager knows, stressed-out employees are less productive and more likely to seek alternative employment than those who are fulfilled. There is a fine line between challenge and stress.

People need support

UAE enterprises need to find a balance between rapid digital transformation and the welfare of the technologists who deliver it. Digital technologies, used shrewdly, are great levers for competitiveness and prepare businesses for future challenges. But without the professionals who design, implement, and test such tools, business models will collapse. We need to consider the wellbeing of IT staff as part of due diligence.

Digital transformation continues to accelerate across all industries, so it is unrealistic to expect technologists’ workloads to decrease any time soon. In response to the change in pressure on employees across roles and industries, some organisations have taken bold steps to support staff and maintain morale where they can, especially with remote workers. Much of the focus has been on balancing productivity with home life and taking the time to address mental health issues.

Easing the pressure

With technology professionals, organisations may need to become a little more creative when easing pressure. The Agents of Transformation 2021 revealed a feeling among technologists that their time was not being used efficiently and their productivity was not optimal. Two thirds of UAE respondents said they lacked the strategy and tools to measure the effect of technology on business outcomes. And almost all of them (98%) predicted negative consequences to not having comprehensive visibility of the entire technology stack.

Without accurate, real-time visibility in the new, more complex IT environments brought about by rapid digital transformation, IT teams are lost. They will simply not have the means to flag emerging issues and track down their causes before they negatively affect digital experiences. Some 73% of UAE technologists say that, given new complexities, they can no longer rely on their gut to troubleshoot problems. They need accurate, real-time data.

If technology professionals are unable to tie performance issues to business outcomes, entire digital transformation programs may be derailed. After all, how can stakeholders make informed decisions if they are not properly informed? And so, technologists become frustrated at not being able to perform optimally. Remember, your IT people have big ideas for your business. They believe in the power of digital transformation. But to add value they need a detailed view of the IT infrastructure.

Investing in tools and skills

The need for full-stack observability combined with the ability to correlate technology and business data has never been greater. Deploying this technology enables IT teams to move beyond constant fire-fighting and make smarter, strategic decisions based on actual business impact.

UAE technologists may need to face up to a future where an ever-increasing number of deliverables are required of them. But they need not feel the level of pressure indicated by the Agents of Transformation report. Smart decisions made now can pave the way for greater innovation, deeper levels of insight and increased efficiencies for years to come.

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