Can Technology Leaders Be Agents Of Change?


Spiralling complexity and business expectations spawn growing skills and resources demands

Cisco AppDynamics, a provider of observability and application performance monitoring technology, has published findings from Agents of Transformation 2022, the fourth annual report that analyses the skills and attributes of global technologists.

In the wake of the pandemic, it reveals the emergence of a new class of technology experts stepping up to meet critical challenges that are blurring the lines between business strategy and IT operations. The report also cites the demand to make all products and services digitally available in the experience economy amid heightened security threats, increasing complexity, and the accelerated shift to hybrid work and cloud.

“The bar continues to rise, and over the last year, we have seen a redefinition of what it means to be an Agent of Transformation. These leaders are looking to understand better how issues in their respective domains impact the total experience of users and applications, adapting to change with solutions that positively affect the overall business,” said Liz Centoni, EVP, Chief Strategy Officer, GM of Applications.

According to the Cisco AppDynamics report, 74 per cent believe that their experiences in recent years – particularly during the pandemic – have accelerated their careers, and 88 per cent now consider themselves business leaders. However, just 10 per cent of technology experts have reached the status of “Agents of Transformation”. These individuals represent leaders who are reimagining and delivering applications and services that create the always-on, secure, and exceptional user experiences now demanded by end-users and customers.

Respondents cite a fundamental change in the role of technologists, including the skills and resources required to operate effectively and proficiently. At the same time, they say they now contend with soaring complexity and volumes of data across the technology stack and must integrate a massively expanding set of cloud-native services with existing on-premises systems and tools.

  • 88 per cent believe that what it means to be a technologist has changed
  • 84 per cent say the skills and qualities that define an agent of transformation have evolved
  • 66 per cent indicate that it is now more difficult to be an agent of transformation
  • One in four say their organisation remains stuck in reactive, “fire-fighting mode.”

Digital transformation means almost every company and organisation interacts with consumers via web and mobile applications, and the transition to hybrid work means more interaction with SaaS tools and web interfaces. While consumers can pivot fast to another brand’s app or service, companies that cannot instantly improve digital experiences risk having loyal customers walk away.

“The new agents of transformation recognise a need to reimagine applications not just in response to post-pandemic challenges but also to create flawless, reliable digital experiences that address some of the world’s greatest problems – from meeting critical human needs to giving people the skills and resources to succeed in the digital economy,” Centoni said.

While acknowledging the far-reaching consequences of this change, respondents in the Cisco AppDynamics report note that they need help navigating digital transformation’s technical and operational ambiguities. Specifically, they want unified visibility into their IT environments to better manage and optimise application availability and performance. This requires investing in application security, observability over cloud-native applications and infrastructure, and linking IT performance to business decision-making.

  • 77 per cent believe it will be important to invest in application security over the next 12 months to meet customer and employee needs
  • 71 per cent think their organisation will need to invest in observing cloud-native applications and infrastructure
  • 84 per cent say that the need to maintain the performance of business applications is now more important than ever
  • 85 per cent state that full-stack observability is core to sustainable transformation and innovation in their organisation

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