Enabling technologies for software development

INDUSTRY INSIGHT

3 questions to ask for a successful digital transformation

Federal agencies have embarked on an ambitious digital transformation journey that will greatly enhance their ability to deliver mission-critical services and improve efficiency.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will migrate an estimated 350 applications from on-premises and external data centers to the VA Enterprise Cloud by 2024. Once completed, the project is expected to save at least $5 billion in expenses.

Meanwhile, the Census Bureau has launched an enterprise data lake to better apply secure, scalable data science to survey research, data linking and predictive analysis. The U.S. Postal Service has unveiled a virtual supply chain and mailbox so citizens can manage packages via emails, online dashboards and mobile apps. The Treasury Department is deploying blockchain to track its smartphones, computers and other assets in real-time, replacing manual processes which previously took months to perform, according to a report from Deloitte.

These developments speak to an overall dedication to a digital transformation governmentwide, as a recent survey showed that  82% of agency officials believe that their organization needs to become more technologically advanced. Three of five feel that COVID-19 -- which drove new urgency for work from home arrangements and online collaboration tools -- has expedited their transformation.

While the core focus of missions remain essentially the same, “agencies face an explosion in the volumes and types of data they must deal with; this provides tremendous opportunities for data-driven decision making as well as new risks,” the Deloitte report said.

There are, of course, many challenges to address on the road to a successful digital transformation, including the need to ensure systems continuity along with superior performance. This has grown significantly more complex in recent years as agencies transition from a basic mainframe-and-server IT environment to one that involves countless interconnected machines, systems, applications and infrastructure. With so much running in the cloud and containers, everything must work together effectively and seamlessly to avoid mission failure. This is where an emerging technology concept known as software intelligence enters the equation.

Briefly defined, software intelligence establishes round-the-clock awareness and control over on-premise and multicloud environments, with continuous automation eliminating manual tasks and artificial intelligence-powered insights simplifying cloud complexity to give digital teams a clear and comprehensive view of the entire IT ecosystem – including the quality of user experiences.

To reach uninterrupted continuity and ideal performance standards by leveraging software intelligence, agencies should ask the following key questions when exploring digital transformation strategies:

Can we see all of our digital assets 24/7/365?

Why this matters: Too many agencies cannot. They have created a perimeter that is no longer contained within traditional boundaries, with applications and devices running outside traditional offices. While users benefit from the resulting productivity gains, IT teams cannot see everything they are supposed to maintain, improve and protect. An August 2020 paper reports that only 11% of organizational decision-makers, in fact, are satisfied with their current infrastructure and application monitoring platforms, and 83% are seeking to improve this. Toward this goal, a number of these decision-makers are implementing or considering the adoption of software intelligence solutions that deliver automatic and intelligent observability, giving them a completely comprehensive and accurate view of every app and user regardless of where they exist.

Subsequently, IT teams can continuously observe and capture all data from logs, metrics and end-to-end transactions for tracking mission deliverables, construction projects, supply chain status, disaster response, etc. What’s more, software intelligence enables teams to determine performance baselines to identify anomalous activity that can bring down systems and otherwise disrupt the ability to effectively accomplish tasks. Without this level of absolute observability, agencies are flying blind at a time when they can no longer afford to.

Do we still need manual processes?

Why this matters: Because the short answer is “No, not if you are committed to a true transformation.” Manual approaches have no place here, especially when once-simplistic IT assets and processes now move at speeds unimaginable even three years ago. Everything is going too fast today to oversee potentially millions of technology dependencies within a non-traditional structure. By deploying continuous automation enterprisewide, agencies can collect and analyze metrics and data for end-to-end traceability -- avoiding unwanted “surprises” that teams can’t keep up with.

Can AI help us?

Why this matters: Again, the short answer is, “You bet it can!” Fortunately, 91% percent of federal agencies are discovering this (as opposed to only 73% of global organizations in general), Accenture reports. The best software intelligence solutions are designed so AI works hand-in-hand with automation, allowing teams to make positive, actionable decisions from data and swiftly process billions of dependencies in real time. In addition, they can continuously monitor for system and performance degradation and quickly respond with root-cause determination while prioritizing according to business impact.

Although their missions cover a vast range of services -- from health care to education,  homeland security, the environment, the space program and the national budget -- agencies have always focused on a united purpose: to support citizens as effectively and cost-affordably as possible.

Today, they can accomplish this more readily than ever thanks to the cloud, mobility and other innovations. But if they lose track of just a few components, they risk a damaging system disruption or counterproductive performance decline. Software intelligence empowers IT teams to automatically “see” and respond to everything that matters. Then, it supplies an optimal level of AI so teams can make data-driven decisions. As a result, they are forever redefining the way they work and achieve their mission objectives – a fully realized and impactful transformation.

About the Author

Willie Hicks is federal CTO at Dynatrace.

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