In today’s digital economy, IT performance is more critical than ever. Time and cost savings stemming from high performance—and losses associated with performance hiccups—can seriously affect the bottom line. In fact, Amazon® has calculated that a page load slowdown of just one second could cost its business $1.6 billion in sales each year.
Today, all eyes are on the technology trends of tomorrow: artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and blockchain. Yet in many cases, more traditional solutions and more basic problems are the most urgent priorities for IT management. The C-suite considers AI, ML, and deep learning to be fundamental elements of digital transformation, but what does the IT community say? Will these new technologies actually enable IT to reach optimal performance faster? As we settle into the new financial year, we look back at the SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2018: The Intersection of Hype and Performance to guide the way for Australian IT professionals this year and beyond.
The report, which explores the views of IT pros and what is happening in their technology worlds, shows that:
Cloud computing and hybrid IT will remain the top priority for Australian IT professionals for the next five years as these elements serve as the backbone to trends like machine learning and AI.
- The majority (94 percent) of Australian IT professionals surveyed indicate that cloud and/or hybrid IT is the number one most important technology in their IT organisation’s technology strategy today.
At the same time, Australian IT professionals are setting their sights toward future innovation in emerging technologies like AI.
- While AI did not make the top five technologies Australian IT professionals are prioritising today, it took the number five spot (by weighted rank) for technologies needed for digital transformation over the next three to five years, rising 20 percent.
The results suggest a dissonance between the views of Australian IT professionals and their senior managers on priorities for IT investment over the next three to five years.
- On the weighted list of technologies Australian IT professionals believe are needed for an IT organisation’s digital transformation over the next three to five years, AI—while rising in importance—only just made the top five.
- This contrasts with a recent global CEO survey, which found that AI and machine learning is the number one strategic priority that four-fifths of enterprise c-suites are placing on their operations.
- Enterprises see AI and machine learning (81 percent) and process automation and robotics (82 percent) as important c-suite directives toward operations strategy—higher than any priority other than cost reduction (HFS Research).
- As AI and machine learning continue to mature, IT professionals will be required to have a fundamental understanding of these technologies and their capabilities to act as an educated liaison for business leadership when it comes time to consider the benefits of adoption.
While Australian IT professionals continue prioritising cloud computing and hybrid IT, adoption of these technologies has made it challenging to optimise performance of their systems and applications.
- IT professionals surveyed indicated that by weighted rank, cloud/hybrid IT is the greatest challenge when it comes to implementation, rollout, and day-to-day performance. This is followed closely by automation and big data analytics.
Many IT professionals cite a lack of organisational strategy and inadequate investment in areas like user training as the most common barriers to system optimisation.
- Of IT professionals indicating their environments are not optimised, inadequate organisational strategy is the number one barrier to achieving optimisation, followed closely by inadequate investment in areas like user training and inadequate app strategy (by weighted rank).
- To achieve true performance and work towards a successful digital transformation, IT professionals require deeper strategic collaboration with business leaders.
With these findings in mind, it is essential that IT professionals continue prioritising cloud and hybrid IT while simultaneously developing new skillsets and leveraging emerging technologies to help their organisations along their digital transformation journeys. To help IT professionals arm themselves with a new set of skills, technologies, and resources to bridge the leadership gap and manage the intersection of hype and performance, consider the following recommendations.
1. Cloud Power-Up
IT professionals are beginning to consume different service delivery models—like moving from Microsoft® Exchange™ Servers to Office 365®—and migrate more of their mission-critical applications to the cloud.
In parallel with these changes, there must be increased observability—leveraging combined metrics, logs, and application traces for controllability—built into an organisation’s cloud monitoring strategy. This degree of monitoring with discipline must carry forward the same level of granularity and source of truth that has existed in on-premises environments for decades. The key part of this process is establishing a baseline of observability within their hybrid IT environments across the entirety of their cloud-based applications.
2. Bridge the Leadership Gap
There will continue to be a great deal of excitement around ML and AI into the foreseeable future. As we saw with cloud, executives are eager to implement the technology, which promises the hyped benefits of disruptive innovation, and want to activate a new technology quickly without the experience to understand current capabilities, technical complexities, or deployment challenges. The best course of action for IT professionals is to become educators: identify ways to discuss the basics, the specific cost-benefit analysis of how the technology will benefit the business, and what it means for service integration and service delivery.
3. Embrace Resiliency and Reliability as Performance Metrics
To achieve digital transformation success, it’s imperative that IT professionals begin to embrace resiliency and reliability of their environments as critical performance metrics.
Resiliency and reliability underscore the business value that IT professionals can bring to fruition for their organisations. They also represent measures of how well a distributed application was integrated and delivered, and because they also represent overall performance, these metrics translate into dollar values. With the stakes so high, the ability to ensure the end-user’s digital experience is essential. IT should look to leverage tools that deliver full-stack observability into the logs, metrics, and tracing data that underpin reliability and resiliency metrics and ultimately optimise environments.
While it’s natural for business leaders to be eager about implementing new technologies that promise to meet the growing demands of their organisations, the IT professional is ultimately responsible for keeping businesses on a practical track regarding technology implementation. Although AI and ML are not currently the highest priorities for IT professionals, optimising cloud/hybrid IT environments creates a critical pathway to eventually deploy and capture the compelling benefits of these emerging technologies.
FY19 presents IT professionals with the opportunity to continue identifying ways to optimise the digital experience for end-users in hybrid IT environments while prioritising investments in technologies that will deliver business value well beyond IT.