New technology leaders emerge to tackle the experience economy

Liz Centoni, EVP, Chief Strategy Officer, General Manager of Applications at Cisco

Cisco AppDynamics, a provider of Observability and Application Performance Monitoring tech, has published findings from Agents of Transformation 2022, the fourth annual report that analyzes the skills and attributes of elite global technologists. In the wake of the pandemic, it reveals the emergence of a new class of technology experts stepping up to meet critical challenges that are blurring the lines between business strategy and IT operations.

The report also cites the demand to make products and services digitally available in the Experience Economy amid heightened security threats, increasing complexity, and the accelerated shift to hybrid work and the cloud. “The bar continues to rise, and over the last year we have seen a redefinition of what it means to be an Agent of Transformation,” said Liz Centoni, Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer, General Manager of Applications.

“These leaders are looking to better understand how issues in their domains impact user experience and apps, adapting to change with solutions that positively affect the business”

What were the findings of Cisco’s research?

74% believe that their experiences in recent years—particularly during the pandemic—have accelerated their careers, and 88% now consider themselves to be business leaders.

However, the study found just 10% of surveyed technology experts have reached the elite status of ‘Agents of Transformation’. These individuals represent top-flight leaders who are reimagining and delivering high-value applications and services that create the always-on, secure, and exceptional user experiences now demanded by end users and customers.

Increased complexity

Respondents cite a fundamental change in the role of technologists, including the skills and resources required to operate proficiently. They say they now contend with soaring complexity and volumes of data from across the tech stack and must integrate a massively expanding set of cloud-native services with existing on-premises systems and tools.

  • 88% believe that what it means to be a technologist has changed
  • 84% say the skills and qualities that define an Agent of Transformation have evolved
  • 66% indicate that it is now more difficult to be an Agent of Transformation
  • One in four say their organization remains stuck in reactive, “fire-fighting mode”

Digital transformation means almost every firm interacts with consumers via web and mobile apps, and the transition to hybrid work means more interaction with SaaS tools and web interfaces. While consumers can pivot fast to another brand’s app or service, companies that cannot instantly improve digital experiences risk having loyal customers walk away.

“The new Agents of Transformation recognize a need to reimagine apps not just in response to post-pandemic challenges, but also, to create flawless, reliable digital experiences that address some of the world’s greatest problems—from meeting critical human needs to giving people the skills and resources to succeed in the digital economy,” Centoni further said.

Calls to re-channel or increase investments in unified visibility

While acknowledging the far-reaching consequences of this change, respondents in the Cisco AppDynamics report note that they need help navigating the technical and operational ambiguities of digital transformation. Specifically, they are looking for unified visibility into their IT environments to better manage and optimize application availability and performance.

This requires focusing investments on application security, observability over cloud-native applications and infrastructure, and linking IT performance to business decision making.

  • 77% believe it will be important to invest in application security over the next 12 months to meet customer and employee needs
  • 71% think their firm will need to invest in observing cloud-native apps and infrastructure
  • 84% say the need to maintain the performance of business apps is vital
  • 85% state that full stack observability is core to sustainable transformation and innovation