‘Agents of Transformation’ needed to advance the digital economy

AppDynamics, a Cisco company, has today released a report, urgently calling for ‘Agents of Transformation’ — a new breed of technologist, primed to drive innovation and enable companies to thrive in the face of rapid technological advancement.

Now is the time for companies to identify and nurture these so-called ‘Agents of Transformation’, and this represents an opportunity for technologists wanting to accelerate their careers.

‘Agents of Transformation’

Technology is transforming business and social structure — in ways we are only beginning to perceive.

The businesses who will thrive in this technology-driven era are the ones ‘investing in building engaging digital experiences to deliver on growing consumer-demands,’ according to the report.

But, the report continues: ‘This brings to light the dichotomy of modern technology — while the customer experience has never been more simple and elegant, it has never been more complex and difficult for businesses and IT teams to deliver. Organisations almost never understand the connection between the changes they make and the impact these changes have on customer experience and business performance until it is too late.’

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Only 22% of global technologists (17% for UK) are very optimistic that their organisation is ready for the rapid pace of technological change.

To keep up with these increasing demands, businesses will require IT leaders who can build agile technology platforms to meet the ever-changing needs of the business. These leaders will be a new breed of technologist — Agents of Transformation — with the personal skills and attributes needed to drive innovation, improve user engagement and accelerate business outcomes.

The report identifies that today only 9% of global technologists (6% for UK) are ‘Agents of Transformation’.

Time to act

This low representation needs to change. In order to remain competitive over the next ten years, the report found that organisation’s need at least 45% of their technologists operating as ‘Agents of Transformation’ (44% for UK) .

To achieve this, enterprises need to quickly identify and nurture technologists with the technical, business and communication skills to drive organisational change — embodying the role of the CIO and CTO.

These individuals, according to the report, must also have the hunger, passion and vision to deliver that change positively and sustainably.

Without ‘Agents of Transformation’, these businesses will face:

• An inability to drive or complete innovation initiatives (35% global; 37% UK).
• Competitive or financial repercussions (33% global; 37% UK).
• A detrimental impact on customer experience (30% global; 32% UK).
• Difficulties recruiting new talent (35% global; 35% UK).
• A lack of positive role models for existing talent to emulate (31% global; 34% UK).

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“At AppDynamics, we’re proud to be working with many of the world’s most innovative companies, and supporting the most skilled, visionary, and ambitious technologists. We are committed to helping our customers become Agents of Transformation — the heroes of their companies’ digital transformation strategies — by providing them with the tools they need to make informed decisions that drive culture change, business performance and better end-user experiences,” said David Wadhwani, CEO, AppDynamics.

André Sayfi, IT Senior Project Manager at WWK (and an ‘Agent of Transformation’) said: “As a customer-focused business, we’re always taking an outside-in approach and thinking about how we can better serve our customers. AppDynamics has been instrumental in helping us to monitor their digital experience via the performance of our applications, as well as identifying errors before they impact the customer. I haven’t seen a better solution out there.”

Driving change

The aim of AppDynamics’ research was to identify the characteristics and environments that technologists need in order to drive effective and sustainable culture change for their organisations.

What emerged were five types of technologist. Among these five are the ‘Agents of Transformation’, ‘a group of elite technologists that are already primed and equipped to harness change and be the digital business leaders that companies truly need’.

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‘Agents of Transformation possess the personal skills and attributes needed to drive innovation, and they operate within organisations that have the right culture, leadership and tools in place to enable successful digital and business transformation,’ said the report.

‘They find themselves at the forefront of transformation initiatives, but they never stand still. They recognise the need for constant personal development and learning in order to remain relevant and fulfil their ambitions.’

Opportunity for technologists

As mentioned, today only 9% of global technologists fall into the ‘Agents of Transformation’ category. However, the research points to an opportunity for other technologists..

Digital transformation (or digitisation) and innovation represents a great opportunity. Not only for businesses, but for individual technologists. These include the chance to work on exciting projects, increased fulfilment and job satisfaction, the opportunity to learn and develop new skills, the possibility to inspire and teach others, and to leave a lasting legacy.

Michael Makar, Senior IT Manager at World Bank (and an ‘Agent of Transformation’) commented: “I get up every day wanting to make a positive difference. Otherwise I wouldn’t get up and go to work. There has to be a greater goal in mind. There has to be a reason that we’re tackling the problems that we are, so that we can make positive change and we can help people along the way. That’s really my main goal: helping people in the long term. For me, legacy is very, very important.”

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Barriers to overcome

For those looking to become ‘Agents of Transformation’, there are a number of challenges to overcome:

Cultural barriers

• 86% (87% for UK) of IT professionals think their organisation lags behind the most forward/innovative IT team in their country in terms of skills, qualities and knowledge, and around half see themselves lagging more than five years behind.
• 55% (58% for UK) of respondents say their organisation does not encourage technology professionals to embrace the creative, future-looking side of technology.

Leadership and job satisfaction

• Only 26% (19% for UK) of IT directors and managers feel their full potential is being achieved in their current role.
• 60% (62% for UK) of technologists say too much of their time is spent keeping existing software and systems up and running.
• 58% (64% for UK) say that often their work in IT is so reactive, they forget what attracted them to technology in the first place.

Outdated tools and skills

• 56% (62% for UK) of technologists say there is a surplus of outdated technology within their IT department.
• 85% (50% for UK) do not have access to the software and tools they need to turn data into real-time, context-specific insight.
• 49% (52% for UK) do not have access to the data they need to achieve innovation goals.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...