Home Brand View Digital transformation takes centre stage in the new normal Digital businesses have the potential to emerge faster from the pandemic and will be better prepared for the future by Gulf Business September 30, 2020 Covid-19 caused our world to change almost overnight. With little chance to prepare, organisations had to adapt fast to a new set of priorities and challenges. Businesses shifted overnight to an almost completely digital world as the consequences of the pandemic took hold. Meanwhile, IT departments across the world grappled with surging demand and a very real urgency to accelerate digital transformation strategies. “No organisation was left untouched by the need to innovate and digitally transform in an incredibly short period of time,” observes David Noël, regional vice president for Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa at AppDynamics, now part of Cisco. In a recent AppDynamics report ‘The Agents of Transformation Report 2020: Covid-19 Special Edition’, 81 per cent of technologists in the UAE said that Covid-19 had created the big- gest technology pressure ever experienced in their organisation. Further, 86 per cent said digital transformation projects had been approved within weeks which would typically take more than a year. However, only 41 per cent of technologists said they have all the skills and personal qualities as well as access to the support, leadership, tools, and resources needed to make a positive impact. From the technology side of things, the customer experience is the biggest priority for organisations as they look to digitally transform. But a lack of unified visibility into the performance of the tech stack and its impact on business is holding organisations back, Noël warns. In the survey, 88 per cent of technologists in the UAE cited lack of visibility as the biggest issue impacting their ability to deliver better digital customer experiences, the highest of any region surveyed in The Agents of Transformation report. “For IT teams, end-to-end visibility into both web and mobile applications is vital for gaining the insight they need to understand the consumers’ habits, as well as the broader business,” Noël says. But in the current environment, perhaps the major differentiator for success could be the quality, attitude and outlook of the technologists themselves who will drive digital transformation initiatives. “Rather than shy away from the challenges they have faced, many IT professionals see this as an opportunity to show their value to the business,” says Noël. According to the report, 92 per cent of UAE technologists believe they can positively impact how the business responds to (and then recovers from) the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. “We’re seeing a new breed of technologists, primed to deliver transformation and business impact,” says Noël. Noël: Without a doubt, the rule book for digital transformation has been re-written. Digital Transformation The business case for digital transformation has been clear for decades. Put simply, organisations that fail to understand and keep pace with rapid technological advancements will be outstripped by their competitors. At the heart of digital transformation is the need for organisations to deliver incredible experiences for customers and employees, says Noël. “In normal circumstances, consumers have very high expectations for the businesses and services they interact with. This demand for flawless digital experiences has meant that organisations need to provide high-performance and scalable services at all times to protect their reputation and stay ahead of the competition,” Noël adds. The current pandemic has intensified consumers’ demands, as they rely even more on digital channels to access information, services and products. “In a digital-first world, brands need to ensure their digital performance is, and continues to be, a top priority. Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation and proven to be an enforced catalyst for change amongst even the most risk-averse organisations,” says Noël. Managing the rapid acceleration of digital transformation during the pandemic has been no simple task. “Without a doubt, the rule book for digital transformation has been re-written,” Noël observes. According to him, amongst the biggest priorities for AppDynamics customers has been delivering optimal customer experience to end-users across the web and mobile applications. “Some of the common challenges in delivering seamless customer experiences during the pandemic include managing spikes in website traffic, lack of unified visibility and insight into the performance of the technology stack and its impact on customers, and managing mean time to resolution (MTTR) of performance issues with a remote IT department,” Noël explains. The new normal The ‘new normal’ business climate brings fresh pressures and increasing demands every day. Organisations must adapt quickly and ensure they have a robust business transformation strategy in place, says Noël. “To achieve success and deliver outstanding digital services through these uncertain times, organisations need to have full-stack visibility across their IT infrastructure. This includes a performance-lens view that allows IT decision-makers to see the bigger picture, understand how customers interact with applications, how performance impacts these interactions, and find a clear path to resolving the right issues at the right time,” Noël says. Applications are increasingly crucial to business performance. Therefore, technologists must find ways to ensure they have access to the tools and accurate data they need to make informed, strategic decisions in real-time, and connect application and digital performance to key business outcomes. Application performance monitoring (APM) has become critical in enabling this, says Noël. 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