Looking Ahead: Industry Predictions for 2021
December 03, 2020

Angie Mistretta
AppDynamics

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This year introduced a number of new challenges for IT teams due to the influx of technology migration, increased demand for resources and rapid digital transformation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lessons we've learned in 2020 will be valuable for us to carry into the "next normal" we're expecting in 2021 and beyond, where work and life are likely permanently changed. As we reflect on the last year and begin to plan for the future, we expect to see trends like prioritization of the user experience and the dependence on IT teams continue, recognizing that what worked yesterday, may not work today or in the near future.

2020 Lessons

As the pandemic spread and people globally were forced to stay in their homes, technology became the only way many people were able to work, learn and stay connected. This put an enormous strain on IT teams to keep day-to-day life moving. As we saw in our own research, 81 percent of technologists stated the COVID-19 pandemic created the biggest technology pressure for their organization they had ever experienced and 64 percent said they were asked to perform tasks they had never done before. The pressure experienced by IT teams led to the rapid adoption of new technologies and techniques and we saw a growing interest in reducing siloed approaches to IT, with the business leaders working more closely with their teams to better understand their needs and help them resolve issues or make changes more efficiently.

The dramatic shift and dependence on technology also made IT more critical to businesses' success than ever before, especially as the digital user experience took center stage this year. The AppDynamics App Attention Index from 2019 found over the next three years, 85 percent of consumers expected to select brands on the variety of digital services they provided. Now, almost every business has had to figure out how to offer their services digitally. With 66 percent of consumers claiming they would avoid trying a brand known for delivering poor digital experience, it is vital now and into the new year that every business has strong, agile IT teams in place to keep everything running efficiently.

2021: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Looking at how the industry evolved this year to keep up with demands while delivering new experiences and innovation has taught us quite a bit. Looking forward, here are some of the changes we expect for the next year and insights on how IT leaders can prepare:

Observability will be key. Broader observability will be a strategic priority as companies develop more complex systems and expand their technology infrastructures. As businesses accelerate their digital transformation journeys in the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, their environments have become more complex than ever. By using observability solutions to pull meaningful data from logs, metrics, traces and events — developers can shift from monitoring everything, to monitoring the data and insights that will impact business outcomes most significantly.

Taking risks will be encouraged. More organizations will encourage technologists to take risks to enable more rapid transformation for the user experience. Prior to 2020, the approval process for new business strategies took a long time, but due to demands for faster, more innovative approaches this year, businesses realized they were able to adjust quickly and be more accepting of new ideas.

Prioritization of automation and cloud. IT practitioners, especially when supporting their business' migration to the cloud, need five key things to ensure the process before, during and after goes smoothly: visibility, automation, consolidation, simplification and transformation. IT teams are being asked to do more with less, and, in 2021, the automation of digital processes will be what allows them to expand into the cloud with full visibility into data obstructions and the ability to mitigate these risks in a timely manner.

An integration of security and user experience. There is a growing demand for tying security to the application and user experience, which will only continue to be a top priority in 2021. Balancing frictionless security and user experience is always a challenge, but full stack observability gives businesses the ability to see where users are hitting roadblocks and disengaging, as well as where security hurdles need to be enhanced or reduced.

It is impossible to know for certain what new challenges or opportunities 2021 will bring, but by leveraging many of the key insights from 2020, we can make it easier to adapt. Business leaders and technologists across all industries came together this year to adapt, survive and hopefully thrive — we should celebrate this alignment and growth while preparing for the future by taking on new challenges and expanding the resources available to IT teams to continue our digital transformation journeys.

Angie Mistretta is CMO of AppDynamics, a part of Cisco
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