When digital transformation becomes table stakes, what’s next? - The EE

When digital transformation becomes table stakes, what’s next?

In many ways, as a result of intensified digitisation over the past few years, enterprises today have put the digital foundations in place that are powerful enough to deliver the digital services their users now prefer. The ‘completion’ of these efforts is an indication that we’re approaching the other side of digital transformation, where these digital modernisation efforts no longer are a competitive differentiator, but table stakes, says Neil Miller, leader, technical solutions, EMEA. ThousandEyes, part of Cisco.

Instead, the differentiator of today is the ability to deliver consistently stellar digital experiences to any and all users, no matter where the user is, and across any environment. To assure digital experience amidst complex, hybrid and hyper-connected environments is a challenge for IT teams, and one that requires a way to keep digitally-transformed products and processes current.

For most organisations, therefore, there is an opportunity to derive more value from their digital investments, and digital acceleration is that opportunity. 

From transformation to acceleration

Digital transformation is characterised by a point-in-time upgrade, a re-factoring or re-platforming of an application, service, process or workload to survive and thrive in a modern, digitally connected world. Businesses that pursue digital acceleration are looking to constantly build on these foundations to introduce new features or improve performance to extend and optimise its capability and ultimately increase both customer satisfaction and business value.

A key challenge linked with point-in-time updates like the cloud lift-and-shifts undertaken as digital transformation efforts is that the level of service can quickly fall behind and become outdated due to the rapid pace of innovation.

Instead, accelerating digital efforts and making change and optimisation a more iterative process, comes down to understanding, at a granular level, what the digital product, process, or service actually looks like. This means getting under the hood, and being able to understand the architectural makeup, such as the codebase, hosting environment, and any dependencies on or with other systems especially those owned and operated by third-parties outside of your IT team’s direct oversight.

Having this level of visibility is useful for getting to grips with the environment organisations are working in, to understand how constant changes might impact services in different ways. This can be used to inform things like backend resilience, as well as frontend accessibility and availability.

Organisations that deliver or sell digital services today need to have end-to-end visibility established across their accelerating digital ecosystem, to ensure that the pace of change and innovation doesn’t have unintended, costly, customer-facing impacts.

When the status screen falls short 

Organisations and engineering teams that don’t have independent visibility are often left relying on public-facing service status dashboards, to try and diagnose issues like outages or degradations.

The main issue here is that while service status pages have improved over the years, their accuracy is still varied. When looking at our regular incident tracking, for example, it’s not uncommon to see a status page that displays with a ‘sea of green’ indicators, suggesting that all services are online and optimal – despite the fact that there are increased customer complaints and a clear presence of issues. For some pages, problems might only be flagged after a period of time after the initial disruption, which also creates a delay for teams to be able to respond.

Not only can service status messages be unreliable but the information is often displayed in a siloed way. The traffic light indicators displayed on a dashboard are measuring the health of only one service at any given time. It doesn’t show whether issues to interdependent services is the root cause of a fault. Even if one service indicator is coming up as red, the issue may not actually lie with that service. Ultimately, these types of service status pages are not designed to work at a granular, holistic level meaning that IT teams relying on them will only receive one half of the full picture. 

Another key consideration is that it’s becoming more rare for organisations to build an end-to-end digital process, product or service out of components from one single cloud provider or vendor. Today organisations are taking a multi-cloud approach and are mixing cloud-native code, third-party products and APIs and open source libraries. Gaining holistic visibility over all the pieces of the end-to-end digital product, service or process can be really difficult, because at the moment there’s no single, public-facing free status page that offers that level of insight. At best, IT Teams can scan multiple status pages for information. At worst, teams are left in the dark for specific building blocks that have no status page, and are the users’ responsibility to regularly monitor and keep updated.

Of course, a public, all-seeing status page that correlates information across all the architectural pieces a company is using wouldn’t be an ideal solution either something this detailed could expose sensitive information, such as weakened spots in a company’s security protection or control. It’s much more preferable to have access to this level of visibility behind closed doors, where teams can control the amount of information that gets shared externally.

For organisations thinking about how to accelerate their digital operations, they need tools to identify, diagnose and help solve issues as they start to occur, and preferably before they have a customer-facing impact. These tools need to be able to pull information and correlate indicators from across the end-to-end digital environment, to identify who or what is responsible for the fault. Once the source of the issue has been found, it provides an evidentiary base that can be used by the responsible party to help fix the issue and inform long term strategy and decision-making.

Acceleration to optimise digital experience now and predictively

Neil Miller

As organisations move into the age of digital acceleration, end-to-end visibility tools that can deliver insight across domains, into internal as well as external environments, will become an important source for understanding how to make digital products, services and processes function better. This level of visibility plays a role in these rapidly agile environments, but also increasingly in environments that seek to forecast performance and prevent any user impact from disruptions or outages. By analysing historical performance end-to-end, and proactively recognising traffic patterns, predictive detection offers a glimpse of what’s soon in store as businesses continue to manage and optimise digitally-accelerating environments.

The author is Neil Miller, leader, technical solutions, EMEA. ThousandEyes, part of Cisco.

Follow us and Comment on Twitter @TheEE_io

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.