Written by Eric Schou, Chief Marketing Officer of Cisco AppDynamics
Research published by AppDynamics highlights how the role of technologists has evolved over the last four years and reveals the skills, qualities and tools that technologists now need to reach the pinnacle of their profession and become Agents of Transformation.
The new report, Agents of Transformation 2022: Innovating in the Experience Economy, explores how technologists have reacted to the monumental changes they’ve experienced during the global pandemic and how they feel as their organizations move forward into an uncertain future.
The new research comes four years after the original AppDynamics Agents of Transformation study, which first revealed the emergence of this group of elite technologists with the skills, vision and ambition to deliver sustainable innovation for their organizations and beyond.
Of course, in 2018, nobody could have foreseen what was around the corner – a global pandemic that turned the world upside down and made digital transformation an urgent, business-critical priority for almost every organization in every industry. Technologists were thrust into the spotlight, operating under unrelenting pressure to deliver innovation at breakneck speed in response to changing business and customer needs.
The new research paints a remarkably positive picture, with technologists reporting a strong sense of pride in what they’ve achieved over the last four years and feeling that their experiences have accelerated their careers. For all of the immense pressure and the ongoing challenges they face, technologists remain optimistic about the future and excited about the prospect of becoming an Agent of Transformation.
Being a technologist has become a lot harder
It comes as no surprise that 88% of respondents feel that the last four years have changed what it means to be a technologist and altered what is required to deliver seamless digital experiences in a world of hybrid work.
Across the board, technologists state that their job has become more complex. Whether delivering seamless digital experiences to customers and employees, ensuring the security of applications or managing the complexity involved in enabling hybrid work for employees, technologists report that their day-to-day work has become harder.
IT teams have found themselves coming under increased pressure, and many technologists feel overwhelmed by IT complexity and spiralling volumes of data. Worryingly, this is resulting in burnout amongst some — an issue that business leaders urgently need to address to protect the wellbeing of their technologists and retain their best IT talent in a fiercely competitive labour market.
The evolution of the Agents of Transformation
Technologists have had to learn new skills and embrace new approaches over the last four years. In fact, 84% of technologists report that the skills and qualities that define an Agent of Transformation have evolved over the last four years.
Agents of Transformation have had to adapt to a new world of hybrid work and an environment where digital user experience is critical to success. This has required them to become more data-driven in their approach, using real-time insights to optimize digital experience and to link IT performance to business outcomes. They’ve had to collaborate with a more diverse set of stakeholders and invest in their own learning to prepare for future business demands.
The research also highlights a number of organizational factors that have become more important for elite technologists to thrive. Most critically, 93% of technologists state that Agents of Transformation need to be able to monitor and observe all technical areas across their IT stack and directly link technology performance to business outcomes.
Growing numbers of technologists on the cusp of reaching the pinnacle of their profession
As you might expect against such a turbulent backdrop, the research finds that it has become more difficult to become an Agent of Transformation since 2018. This explains why, despite the incredible achievements of the last four years, still only 10% of technologists are operating as Agents of Transformation (up from 9% in 2018).
Technologists continue to encounter a number of obstacles that are slowing down their journey to the pinnacle of their profession. These include both personal challenges – such as outdated skills and difficulties keeping up with cutting edge technologies – and organizational challenges – such as not having the right tools to link IT performance to business outcomes.
However, despite these barriers, there are encouraging signs for the future. The number of technologists operating as Digital Pioneers has rocketed from 25% in 2018 to 38% in 2022. These Agents of Transformation ‘in waiting’ already possess many of the skills required to reach the summit of their profession. And as organizations move towards a more proactive approach to innovation (after the firefighting of the pandemic), these technologists are perfectly positioned to take the final step to become Agents of Transformation.
AppDynamics continues to support Agents of Transformation
As they look ahead to the next 12 months, technologists recognize a need to re-imagine applications to meet the changing needs of end users. The pandemic has reinforced the critical importance of delivering world-class digital experiences to customers and employees at all times.
In order to do this, technologists are looking for unified visibility of their IT environments to manage and optimize availability and performance across every corner of their IT estate. They’re focussing investment on application security, observing cloud-native applications and infrastructure, and linking IT performance to business decision-making.
At AppDynamics, our solutions provide technologists with unified visibility across their IT environments so that they can quickly identify and resolve issues before they impact customers and employees. And critically, by connecting IT performance data to business outcomes, we enable technologists to assess issues based on their potential impact to the business and prioritize their actions accordingly.
Four years on from our initial Agents of Transformation, we remain committed to providing every technologist with the tools, resources and support they need to accelerate their own personal journey to the top of the IT profession. And we will continue to support Agents of Transformation as they deliver the game-changing innovation their organizations need in a rapidly changing and unpredictable market.