How has the role of technology in businesses evolved since the pandemic?
For the last few decades, technology has played an increasingly crucial role in the business landscape. In fact, the success of some of the world’s most prominent organisations can be traced back to the adoption and integration of various technologies. An obvious example is Netflix; pivoting the business from postal to streaming changed the course of the business forever and cemented its success.
Though in some instances, technology was already an essential element of the business agenda, the pandemic shifted the way we view and use it in the workplace. Technology that was previously underutilised and undervalued became a necessity to keep organisations running and colleagues connected. Digital transformation initiatives were accelerated across the board, which subsequently put an immense strain on IT teams everywhere.
However, it wasn’t all bad news. In many industries, the pandemic drove the rapid development of new and existing technologies. Although born in a time of turmoil, the technology developed throughout the pandemic was able to solve some of the most prevalent challenges in society at the time. For example, Zoom was able to connect colleagues that were suddenly dispersed.
What’s the problem with digital transformation?
Accelerated digital transformation initiatives could only be a positive move for organisations, right? The ability to integrate new software and applications into an existing tech stack should, in theory, lead to increased efficiencies and innovation. Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than this. Every new layer added to an organisation’s tech stack creates an increasingly muddied picture of their overall operations. In response to this, IT teams are forced to work reactively to solve the issues as and when they occur. In a world where the financial and reputational ramifications of an IT outage could be terminal for an organisation, observability is a critical factor in ensuring that operations keep running.
What is observability and how does it differ from monitoring?
Generally, observability is defined as the measurement of the internal state of a system, purely by examining the outputs.
Though the term is often thrown around, observability is not a new concept or a tech buzzword. In fact, the roots of the word can be traced all the way back to Hungarian electrical engineer and mathematician, Rudolf Emil Kálmán (1930). It was Kalman’s work on the structural aspects of engineering systems, namely control theory – the use of mathematics to adjust the output of a given data stream – which included the concept of observability.
While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, it’s important to note that observability and monitoring are not the same thing. Though observability may rely somewhat on monitoring tools and platforms, this is just one method used to augment the observability of a system. Monitoring is an action within the process, whereas observability is a description of the system as a whole.
What can observability do for organisations and why should the C-Suite care?
You might be wondering what’s so important about observability. If you’re able to reach a point of full stack observability (FSO), then you’ll be presented with a holistic overview of business performance. Having full visibility of the technology used across the organisation’s tech stack provides teams with in-depth insights into their organisation’s system health, behaviour and performance. FSO platforms allow teams to easily synthesise metrics, events and logs to help their business perform at its best. IT teams can even monitor the performance of select applications and adapt them to meet desired business goals. In short, observability allows teams to predict the issues that are coming down the pipeline and solve them before they become a full-blown outage.
Overall, we’ve seen the weight that technology holds within an organisation, grow exponentially over the last year or two. Given the potential impacts if the technology fails, the C-Suite needs to take more responsibility for decisions in this area. To ensure operations run smoothly, IT teams can no longer be siloed within a business. The C-Suite needs to work with their teams to understand and tackle the obstacles they face daily.