“To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.” -- Oscar Wilde. Well, the last two years have certainly brought their fair share of the unexpected, with plenty of twists and turns for technologists, many of whom found themselves at the center of their organization’s efforts to digitally transform and steer a path through the pandemic.
And as we consider what the next 12 months might bring, I’d say a “thoroughly modern intellect” is just one of the essential character traits needed for success!
But while some of what lies ahead is genuinely impossible to predict, there is also much we can plan for based on recent trends. The early days of the pandemic saw a marked increase in digital transformation, stretching IT teams to the limit as they were forced to shift strategy and adapt to meet the operational needs of their organization and those of the customer. This trend shows no signs of slowing down. Driven by a combination of user demands, expectations, and market pressures -- alongside the breakneck pace of these innovation programs -- the demand for incredible digital experiences is here to stay.
What’s at Risk for Organizations That Fail to Adapt?
Today’s digital demands put a renewed stress on technologists. Maintaining the availability, performance and security of applications and digital services is a mission-critical, day-in-day-out priority for IT teams in global organizations of all shapes and sizes.
The application is always the brand and brands risk losing customers and damaging their reputation if they fail to offer incredible digital experiences. This trend has only intensified since the pandemic began. The widespread use of applications and digital services has increased, and at the same time our expectations for how these services perform have skyrocketed.
An AppDynamics report -- The App Attention Index 2021 -- found that the number of applications people are using on a daily basis has jumped by 30% compared with pre-pandemic levels. The dependency on applications is breathtaking. All over the world, applications have become a lifeline to normality -- in fact 84% of people report that digital services have had a positive impact on their lives, enabling them to get through this incredibly challenging period.
But this dependency on digital experiences has also ushered in heightened expectations. People are now expecting and demanding the highest level of experience from every application they use. Consumers are looking for the ‘total application experience’ -- a high-performing and reliable digital service that is simple, secure, helpful, and fun to use. They expect applications to be personalized to their preferences and needs and to add real value to their lives.
Who Takes the Rap for the App?
Consumers have come to realize that there is always an alternative digital service out there that can immediately deliver the type of experience they want. So, the moment they encounter an issue with an application, they don’t think twice about permanently deleting it and switching to an alternative service.
And when things do go wrong, consumers aren’t interested in, or worried about, the root cause of issues. Instead, they immediately point the finger of blame at the application.
Sometimes this is justified: for example, where consumers experience slow page loading, poor response times, downtime, or security failures. But even when the problem is due to external factors outside of the application itself, such as poor internet connectivity, mobile network issues or slow payment gateways, consumers still blame the application and the brand behind it.
In a world where consumers are expecting more from their digital experiences than ever before, the question of ‘Who takes the rap for the app?’ puts the blame firmly at the feet of the application owner -- and the brand behind the application -- whatever the cause. Often brands have only one shot to impress and that if their digital service doesn’t perform, consumers won’t use them again.
Meeting Heightened Needs and Complexity Head-On
It’s clear who gets the blame when an application doesn’t perform as expected. But it has become increasingly unclear how to identify and fix anomalies before they impact customer experience. Increased complexity across the entire IT environment is a major part of the problem. Enabling the rapid expansion of innovation and digital transformation, which was critical to the pandemic response, has invariably involved a major shift towards cloud computing.
Technologists now find themselves trying to get their arms around an increasingly complex, sprawling IT estate, made up of a patchwork of legacy and cloud technologies. Many feel they don’t have the tools and insights they need to deal with this new level of complexity.
This concern is driven by the fact that some IT departments are deploying multiple, siloed monitoring solutions up and down their IT stack, and in many cases, these offer little visibility into cloud environments. When monitoring tools are not integrated with one another, technologists are unable to generate a unified view of IT performance across their entire IT estate. They’re wrestling with overwhelming volumes of performance data and don’t have a way to cut through the noise. This is causing long delays in identifying the root cause of performance issues for many IT teams.
Full-stack observability solutions enable them to monitor the entire IT stack, from the application, through the infrastructure, to the network layer and everything in between. They look at various data sources and data types, such as metrics, traces, events, and logs, to troubleshoot and analyze the root causes of problems.
As part of Cisco’s vision for Full-Stack Observability, AppDynamics is giving customers the solutions they need to observe the entire technology stack, helping them to navigate increasing IT complexity and data noise and focus on what matters most to their business. We are committed to delivering next-generation, hyper-scale observability to provide technologists with greater insight into availability and performance issues, their root causes, and impacts. This will reduce mean time to resolution, help technologists avoid the all too familiar painful war room scenarios, and help break down siloed teams.
Few would pretend to know exactly where 2022 will lead us. But by deploying full-stack observability, and achieving some of the benefits this technology brings, IT teams put themselves in the best possible position to react to changing business conditions and respond to the unknown.
Vipul Shah is the Chief Product Officer at Cisco AppDynamics. Vipul focuses on leading and driving growth for AppDynamics, which plays a critical part of Cisco’s go-to market software strategy, as the atomic business unit driving application performance monitoring for enterprises globally and at scale. He has more than 20 years of experience in the enterprise technology space, working across companies like Oracle, Microsoft, and VMware.