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August 14, 2017

How to overcome your digital nerves and master hypercomplex IT

Dynatrace's Michael Allen discusses the challenges of hypercomplex IT being faced by businesses undergoing a digital transformation.

By Ellie Burns

Digital transformation has topped agendas for years, as businesses have poured millions into making sure they remain relevant in an ultra-connected, ultra-competitive market. However, more recently, they’ve started to realise that it isn’t so much a case of ‘transformation’ as ‘evolution’, as there’s no finish line to cross. Rather than being the

How to overcome your digital nerves and master hypercomplex IT

Michael Allen, VP EMEA, Dynatrace.

first to arrive in digital nirvana, there is just the inescapable need for businesses to adapt to constant digital change and deliver their products and services better than competitors can.

Clearly this isn’t so much an IT goal as a business imperative, so it’s unsurprising that digital spend is going through the roof. Forrester predicted that digital transformation budgets would surpass the billion-dollar mark this year, whilst IDC forecast spend on digital technologies to hit $1.2 trillion by the year’s end. With so much being ploughed into their digital initiatives, businesses need to ensure these investments are having a positive impact on both revenue and customer experience. However, in many cases, performance problems are having the opposite effect and hampering digital transformation initiatives.

 

Hypercomplex problems in a hyperscale ecosystem

A recent study by Dynatrace revealed that in the face of soaring IT complexity, today’s organisations encounter digital performance problems as often as once every five days. The challenge they face in resolving these problems in the hyperscale, hypercomplex IT environments that exist today is that it is infinitely more difficult to pinpoint the root cause of performance problems than it used to be. The adoption of the latest and greatest digital technologies and capabilities such as cloud, microservices, AI, IoT and Big Data have added layer upon layer of complexity to an already complicated IT ecosystem.

As a result, it has become increasingly difficult for human operators to manage digital performance in the conventional, accepted ways. Business teams simply can’t see the wood for the trees when something goes wrong, which has left 75 percent of organisations with very low confidence in their ability to resolve digital performance problems. This presents a major threat, as digital ecosystems must function seamlessly, or any potential advantage achieved through transformational initiatives will quickly be lost. It is therefore crucial that businesses restore their teams’ confidence in their ability to resolve digital performance problems, or they run the risk of seeing their investments in digital transformation go to waste.

 

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Overcoming your digital barriers

Of course, restoring that confidence is no simple task; there’s only so much impact a motivational pep talk can have. Once they’re confronted with a list of hundreds, if not thousands of potential root causes for the latest IT outage or digital performance bottleneck, despair will once again set-in and any renewed confidence will quickly disappear.

The key to ensuring that confidence is sustained is to integrate digital performance into the DNA of the business. Leaders have to realise that managing performance can’t simply be added as an afterthought; it’s ultimately what makes the difference between success or failure, so must be a core pillar upon which digital transformation is founded.

In reality, that means businesses can no longer rely solely on their IT teams to identify digital performance problems and then manually trace these back to a root cause. That task has always been like trying to find a needle in a haystack; but these days it’s more like trying to find a needle in a constantly expanding universe of haystacks.

The only effective workaround is if problem resolution is auto-detected with precision and presented back to IT in a very specific context. That context must provide business teams with the insight they need to instantly understand where any problems reside and what impact they are having on the customer and user experience, in addition to what the cause is.

 

Augmenting confidence with AI capabilities

This granular level of visibility can only be unlocked by bringing in Artificial Intelligence capabilities to compute the vast volume and variety of data points that each provide their own small and unique glimpse into the bigger picture of digital service health. These capabilities can be further augmented with automated performance management processes and self-healing, so that basic issues can be quickly and easily remediated, without being escalated to a human operator.

Ultimately, this will significantly reduce the pressure on business teams to manage the impossible as IT complexity continues to soar. As well as giving them greater digital confidence, integrating AI with performance management processes frees up business teams to concentrate on driving initiatives that are of more strategic benefit to the business. That’s a much better outcome for everyone than leaving teams in a relentless cycle of firefighting performance problems.

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