IT leaders must embrace application observability to create a culture of collaboration within the IT department and avoid a talent exodus

By James Harvey, CTO Advisor, EMEA, Cisco AppDynamics | Monday, 07 August 2023, 08:55 IST

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James Harvey is an accomplished IT Director/CTO of Cisco AppDynamics with global experience across diverse sectors including banking, energy, and retail. His strategic leadership, adeptness with emerging technologies, and engagement with stakeholders up to CXO level define his approach. Agile and ITIL proficient, he excels in driving transformation, delivering value, and ensuring ROI through innovative solutions

The shape and make-up of IT departments has changed dramatically over recent years. Rapid adoption of cloud native technologies within many organizations has led to the emergence of new teams such as Site Reliability Engineers (SREs), DevOps and CloudOps, each with very different approaches and ways of working.

At the same time, organizations continue to deploy teams to manage existing on-premises applications and infrastructure. Most businesses are switching to a hybrid environment, leveraging the capabilities of modern application stacks to accelerate innovation and embed agility into their operations, while also maintaining on-premises technologies which can provide IT leaders with greater control, particularly when it comes to regulatory compliance and managing high value intellectual property (IP).

Within such a hybrid environment, where application components increasingly run across cloud native technologies and on-premises technologies, it’s vital that teams work closely with one another in an open and collaborative way.

However, in the latest research from Cisco AppDynamics, The Age of Application Observability, 80% of global technologists state that there has been an increase in silos between IT teams within their organizations because of managing multi-cloud and hybrid environments. As an example, only a third (31%) report that there is ongoing collaboration between their IT Operations and security teams.

This lack of collaboration has profound implications for organizations and technologists themselves. For a start, it reduces the ability of technologists to do their jobs properly and therefore increases the likelihood of poor application performance and security breaches. This in turn leads to customer frustration, reputational damage and loss of revenue.

Siloed ways of working are also putting technologists themselves under ever more intense pressure, with tensions growing in many IT departments. The research finds that growing numbers are leaving their jobs as a result of this and many more will do so unless IT leaders take steps to enable greater collaboration and more effective ways of working.

Tools, structure, data and vision - The barriers to greater collaboration in the IT department

Currently, there are a whole range of reasons why technologists and teams can’t effectively work together to manage and optimize their hybrid environments. Most of all, technologists point to the fact that the tools and technologies they are using to manage application availability and performance only serve to reinforce silos.

Most organizations are still deploying separate monitoring tools for cloud native and on-premises technologies, and this means that IT teams are working with their own siloed data. Technologists are also unable to get a clear line of sight up and down the application path where components are running across hybrid environments. Teams are sticking to what they know and making decisions based on their own immediate interests, rather than being able to take a step back and consider the whole picture.

But as well as technology and data, there are also cultural reasons why collaboration is currently lacking in so many IT departments. Many technologists state that current management and reporting structures prevent teams working more closely together, while others rightly point out that it’s hard to adopt a collaborative approach when teams are still measured around very specific and siloed KPIs. Without a shared vision and shared objectives, there is little incentive for technologists to think beyond their own immediate team priorities.

Worryingly for IT leaders, who are already facing a huge battle to access the skills they need to deliver on their organizations’ digital transformation plans, silos within the IT department present a huge problem in terms of talent retention. In the research, more than a third of global technologists report that silos and ineffective collaboration are already leading to IT talent leaving their organization, and 46% claim that churn within their IT department will increase if silos persist.

Application observability must provide a place for collaboration

Encouragingly, most technologists are now very keen to work in a more collaborative way with other teams and to work towards shared KPIs across the whole IT department. They are eager to do this, not only to deliver seamless digital experiences to customers and accelerate innovation, but to progress their own careers, developing new skills and exposing themselves to new technologies and ways of working.

Technologists in all industries recognize an urgent need to move away from traditional, siloed monitoring processes and tools, and to embrace application observability as a new approach which can unify all teams within the IT department around shared data, vision, and objectives. Indeed, 85% claim that application observability is now a strategic priority for their organization.

Application observability provides all IT teams with a single source of truth for all application availability, performance, and security data, with unified visibility across both cloud native and on-premises environments.

With application observability, IT performance data can be correlated with real-time business metrics, enabling technologists to constantly track and optimize the impact of their innovations. This means that IT leaders can create a shared vision for the entire IT department and incentivize teams to come together to achieve shared KPIs.

Interestingly, 88% of technologists believe that application observability with business context will enable them to operate more strategically and devote more time to innovation. They feel that application observability will allow them to escape the firefighting, tension and silos that are currently such a drain on their productivity and morale, and to spend more time on interesting projects which make a real difference to customers and the business. And if technologists are feeling fulfilled and engaged with their work, it follows that they are far less likely to leave an organization. This is one of many reasons why the move to application observability is now essential for every IT leader.


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