AppDynamics Survey Reveals High IT Stress

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A global survey published today by AppDynamics, a unit of Cisco, suggests the last year took a substantial toll on IT teams at a time when many organizations either launched or accelerated digital business transformation initiatives.

The survey, of 1,050 IT professionals in organizations with revenue of more than $500 million, finds organizations, on average, implemented digital business transformation initiatives three times faster in 2020 than they did in 2019 in response to the economic downturn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. That increased level of activity, however, appears to have come at a significant cost. The survey found 89% of respondents felt they are under immense pressure at work, with 84% admitting to having difficulty switching off after work.

The survey also found stress levels are, not surprisingly, rising as well, with 81% of respondents experiencing increased frustration and 63% conflicting more with colleagues.

The root cause of these issues cited most often include new sets of priorities and challenges (80%), technology sprawl and a patchwork of legacy and cloud technologies (78%), acceleration to cloud computing (77%) and multiple, disconnected monitoring solutions (74%).

A full 85% also identified cutting through noise generated by increasing volumes of data to identify root causes of performance issues will represent a significant challenge in the year ahead. A total of 92% also noted the ability to link technology performance to business outcomes will be what’s really important to delivering on innovation goals over the next year.

Three-quarters (75%) of respondents said they are already struggling to manage overwhelming “data noise.” Nearly three-quarters (73%) also noted they fear the inability to link IT performance with business performance will be detrimental to their business in 2021. Three-quarters (75%) of respondents also noted their organization needs to connect full-stack observability to business outcomes within 12 months in order to remain competitive. Two-thirds of respondents (66%), however, said right now they do not have the resources and support they need.

AppDynamics regional CTO Gregg Ostrowski said the survey makes it clear that existing approaches to merely monitoring IT platforms are not going to be sufficient, at a time when observability across the full stack of IT platforms being employed is now absolutely essential. Rather than convening war rooms where IT teams responsible for different platforms compare reports in the hopes of identifying the root cause of an issue, Ostrowski said modern observability platforms provide a holistic view of IT environments that IT teams need to proactively resolve issues before they impact the business.

That level of visibility will also play a crucial role in reducing the stress levels of IT teams that, in many cases, are now in danger of suffering from burnout, Ostrowski added. Of course, the more fatigued an IT team is, the more likely it is mistakes will be made.

It’s not clear to what degree IT teams are embracing observability as a core IT management concept. The AppDynamics survey noted that 71% of respondents are wary of misleading claims from vendors who are re-labelling monitoring tools as observability platforms. Regardless of how observability is achieved, the general consensus remains: whatever observability means within the context of IT, most organizations lack it.

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