Don’t get caught in the complexity of digital transformation.
A popular saying among many chief information and digital officers these days is that their industries will experience more innovation in the next five years than they have seen in the last 50 years.
Companies are struggling to keep up and build systems around the new behavioral paradigm built in the mobile-first, cloud-first world. Industries that were not first movers in the mobile and cloud space are now coming to grips with the era of intense digital transformation. From a macro economic standpoint, that is actually most companies in the world.
One of the byproducts of the powerful move towards digital transformation is a rapid increase in technological complexity. At the same time, the stack is only getting bigger. Backend infrastructure now must support all internal operations and an increasing list of desired front-end properties, like apps and websites, voice assistants and bots, virtual reality, cars and television. Add in services like machine learning, analytics, CRM and ERP systems and you can see where confusion may arise among industry IT departments with too many balls in the air.
The performance of these systems has become a constant source of consternation for company IT departments. The more complex the stack, the more potential performance problems for employees to monitor and handle on a daily basis.
A new global survey from digital performance and application monitoring company Dynatrace says that 75% of respondents have low confidence in their ability to resolve digital performance problems and 48% said digital performance issues were directly hampering the success of digital performance projects at their companies.
Losing Hours To Performance Problems
The Dynatrace survey was performed by Research Now and included 1,239 respondents with 501 respondents from the United States, 275 from Germany, 215 from the United Kingdom, 150 from France and 98 from Australia. Participants came from a range of job functions including IT operations, development, ecommerce, marketing and customer services.
Valuable work hours are lost to performance issues. The Dynatrace survey notes that ecommerce professionals lose 2.5 hours a day to dealing with performance issues. That’s 12.5 hours a week and 652 hours a year. Marketing professionals lose 470 hours a year, IT operations lose 522 hours a year and customer service loses 496 hours a year. Software developers, who are often most at the whim of the performance of their tools, lose 548 hours a year at 10.5 hours a week.
Productive work hours are lost for a variety of reasons. First, employees may register a performance issue and try to fix it on their own. If and when that doesn’t work, employees often gather in what Dynatrace refers to as “war room scenarios” (read: meetings) to discuss how to tackle the issue. When a solution is agreed upon, time is needed to implement the fix (or contact a vendor to help them fix it).
Performance Complexity At Scale
Two different kinds of complexity can hamper a company’s ability to fix performance issues: business organizational complexity and technological complexity.
Business organizational complexity often falls into the realm of, “whose problem is this anyway?” The marketing department may say it is IT’s issue to fix while IT may say that the marketing team needs to find a fix for their own system. In Australia, 44% of Dynatrace survey respondents said that the lack of collaboration between IT operations, developers, lines of business and customer support are the biggest issues.
Performance issues related to business complexity are often hampered by organizational bottlenecks. When a marketing department has to file an IT ticket for every login issue or application crash, both the marketing department and IT can feel overwhelmed and resentful. When ecommerce professionals have to file a Jira ticket to the developer team for every change in the system, finding workable solutions naturally slows to a crawl.
Technological complexity can be more time consuming. Many companies use multiple vendors to supply various systems that often have to work together. What happens when a bug in one system causes the entire stack to come crashing down? How do you find that bug and figure out that the problem is this one small issue in a system that overall works fine? Like if the CRM system causes the email marketing campaign to stop working? Or if the application tracking SDK causes the payments screen to hang? Technological complexity is often a game of “who done it?”
About a third of Dynatrace respondents in the U.S. (34%) and Germany (35%) feel that the complexity of technologies and systems in the biggest hurdle in performance issues.
Real Cost To Top And Bottom Lines
When things break or slow down, companies lose money. That’s a fact of business and a cost many companies factor into overhead budgets for the years. There is also opportunity cost where employees could be doing something more productive than trying to fix the systems that are supposed to help them do their jobs.
Dynatrace cites three stats that highlight the cost of performance issues. Ponemon Institute estimates the cost of a data center outage to be $740,357. Gartner estimates that outages cost $5,600 a minute. IHS Markit says that businesses loses $700 billion a year to IT downtime.
Dynatrace’s survey provides some anecdotal answers to what employees would be doing if they were not dealing with performance issues. Thirty-six percent of ecommerce specialists would focus on optimizing strategies. Thirty-two percent of IT operations teams would research and deploy new systems and technologies (which may just turn into a vicious cycle of more performance issues). Thirty-one percent of digital marketers would spend more time on strategy and planning.