Exclusive Chat With Rebecca Leach

Small Business Canada

Rebecca Leach is the Country Manager for Canada at AppDynamics, a part of Cisco, and the world’s #1 Application Performance Monitoring (APM) solution and full-stack, business-centric observability platform. Rebecca has two decades of leadership experience with technology companies, including her role as General Manager of Software Sales for Cisco in Canada, and as the Canadian Diversity and Inclusion Leader for Cisco. At AppDynamics, Rebecca is responsible for growing the Canadian business with a focus on key sectors including government, finance and retail. Rebecca is also continuing her diversity and inclusion work as she cultivates a world-class team.

AppDynamics recently released a new edition of its global research study, The Agents of Transformation Report 2021: The rise of full-stack observability. What was the main goal of that study? What were you trying to accomplish through its findings?

At AppDynamics, we started releasing our Agents of Transformation reports in 2018 and we wanted this year’s study to focus on insights that help us understand the complexity that technologists are currently facing in their work. We also wanted to gauge a general understanding of full-stack observability and the appetite for more business context in IT. We know a platform with these capabilities can address many concerns technologists are facing due to the rapid digital transformation that took place in organizations throughout 2020.

Our comprehensive global research gathered responses from board-level directors, CIOs, and senior and mid-level IT management – including interviews with 1,050 IT professionals. These interviews were conducted in 11 markets, including Canada.

The results revealed many technologists are still missing the tools they need to achieve their organization’s innovation goals – creating difficulties in isolating technology performance issues and applying business context to technology decisions to better prioritize actions.

What survey did the results surprise you the most? What were you most shocked to see through the survey findings?

The survey results that surprised me most were the ones that revealed how eager technologists are for a unified solution to enable real-time visibility across the entire IT estate. This issue is something we were aware of when partnering with our customers in their digital transformation efforts over the last year, but what was shocking was the staggering number of technologists who reported a need for a solution. Globally, 95% of technologists say having visibility across the IT estate is important, and 96% point to negative consequences of not having genuine visibility and insight into the performance of their whole technology stack.

Among the survey results, it was revealed that 85% of Canadian technologists recognize that the technology decisions they make have a direct impact on their business performance. In your expert opinion, why do you believe technology has such a huge impact on a company’s performance?

The findings I mentioned earlier are what led us to the critical next step of aligning full-stack observability with business performance. While the overwhelming majority of technologists agreed on the importance of visibility across the IT estate, 92% say the ability to link technology performance to business outcomes in order to show ROI will be what’s really important in delivering innovation over the next year.

Adding a business lens is the logical next step technologists need to take to prioritize and accelerate their work, as the technology they use every day is directly linked to business outcomes such as customer experience, sales transactions, and revenue. In this digital age where customer-facing applications on desktops and mobile devices have essentially become the business for many organizations, delivering first-class digital experiences and accelerating digital transformation have a huge impact on a company’s performance.

The survey also revealed that many technologists do not possess the tools and strategy to effectively measure how technology can impact their business. What do you believe are some of the strategies that should be implemented to address this ongoing issue?

A key strategy that technologists need to implement to properly measure their department’s impact on the overall business is to apply a business lens to full-stack observability. Rather than reviewing the vast amounts of telemetry data that come with a standard full-stack observability approach, technologists need to observe what matters most in a business context. This will allow them to surface the most impactful information quickly, which will allow them to make sense of what is relevant and take action on the most transformative opportunities for their organization.

Almost all technologists have recognized the importance of having the ability to monitor all technical areas across their IT stack. Why is this a crucial aspect and how do you believe it can impact the success of a business?

There’s a rise in IT complexity and that is echoed in our report because the amount of data created across the technology stack has significantly increased from the application, through the infrastructure, to the network and security. With this added complexity, 85% of technologists across the globe state that quickly cutting through noise caused by the ever-increasing volumes of data to identify root causes of performance issues will represent a significant challenge in the year ahead.

Three-quarters (75%) of those polled state they are already struggling to manage overwhelming ‘data noise,’ so it’s safe to say technologists are eager for a unified solution to enable real-time visibility across the entire IT estate.

The stakes have never been higher for technologists and their organizations to get the necessary resources and support in place, with three-quarters (75%) of technologists saying their organization needs to connect full-stack observability to business outcomes within the next 12 months in order to remain competitive.

What would you say has been the biggest impact that the global pandemic has had on the industry? How has it created more complexity?

One of the biggest impacts has been the global shift to digital-first business models, including remote and hybrid work environments, to weather COVID-19 and minimize the commercial impact of the pandemic. This has placed technologists at the forefront of their organization’s response. According to our research, this forced a 3X acceleration of digital transformation projects. Unsurprisingly, this caused technologists to find themselves under considerable strain, with 89% across the globe reportedly feeling immense pressure at work and 84% admitting to having difficulty switching off from work. Furthermore, many technologists expressed feeling frustrated about work (81%) and experiencing increased levels of conflict with colleagues (63%).

On a final note, what advice do you have for technologists that can help them during these challenging times?

Technologists need to promptly navigate through the flood of data to pinpoint the most imperative information and contextualize IT performance insights with real-time business data. They need to determine what matters most by quickly understanding how it impacts the business. This will help them prioritize actions, innovations, and investments based on the direct impact on their customers and the business.

Technologists are best able to apply a business lens to IT performance when they can truly connect the dots up and down the technology stack, cut through the ‘noise’ caused by ever-increasing volumes of data, and turn IT performance into business profit.

For technologists looking for additional help in these areas, please check out AppDynamics’ COVID-19 Project Assist program for free access to our software and support.

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