Surge in reliance on digital services during COVID-19 forces strain on IT team’s digital transformation readiness and work-life balance
Despite IT professionals’ confidence in their ability to support today’s much greater dependence on digital services, there is a rise in application performance errors reported by more than half of consumers, according to xMatters’ Digital Transformation Readiness Survey. However, while many companies and consumers have been quickly forced into a new digital reality, current efforts by IT organizations to build operational resiliency and adapt quickly will help position businesses for future success. For example, consumers anticipate continuing their increased use of digital services—from online banking and grocery shopping applications to video conferencing and collaboration tools—even after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
The survey queried 300 consumers and 300 IT professionals in companies of at least 500 and reveal how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the role of digital service operations practitioners and underscored the importance of incident management and response.
“Current events have driven many organizations that hadn’t fully committed to making a digital transformation to change course and adapt in order to deliver accessible experiences for customers and employees,” said xMatters CEO Troy McAlpin. “Creating better consumer experiences and more productive workforces through digital services has moved from planning to production in the blink of an eye. Pursuing a digital transformation is now near mandatory—not only to be competitive, but to survive. It’s essential that enterprises build in the necessary operational resilience to support those services and survive in this new reality.”
Pandemic Sharply Increases Digital Demand and Creates Burden
The survey makes clear that consumer migration to online services has now become a mass movement. 80% of survey respondents reported their use of websites or mobile applications for tasks such as banking, ordering takeout and grocery shopping has increased during the stay at home period. Of these respondents, 68.5% say they use websites or mobile applications to complete the same tasks several times a day. What’s more, having become accustomed to such digital interactions, 82% say they will continue using digital services in the same capacity even after the current stay at home period expires. The evidence for the nearly complete adoption of digital services is even more pronounced when reviewing input from employees as well as consumers, most of whom are working in a distributed workforce model—the majority (90%) said they are taking advantage of digital services and applications, including video conferencing, workflow automation and collaboration tools.
With this increased reliance comes increased expectation. When asked what could dissuade them from continuing to use digital services, 52% said they would stop using a mobile application or website if it was slow to respond and 48% said security or privacy concerns would stop them.
Gap Between IT Professionals’ Confidence and Users’ Problems Must be Closed
For businesses to make a digital transformation, user concerns must be addressed and expectations fulfilled. Given increased consumer and employee reliance on digital services, the time to do so is now.
Of the 300 IT professionals surveyed by xMatters, 88.4% reported that they’ve seen a rise in the use of their company’s digital services offerings over the course of the last approximately six weeks. As a result, 79% said their organization put an even greater focus on infrastructure security and privacy. There is also availability and performance considerations that require IT time and effort, and it hasn’t been easy from either a technology or culture perspective.
While 75% of IT professionals say they believe their organization is equipped with the tools and processes to support the increased use of digital service offerings, a majority of consumers have experienced degradations in their digital service experience. Responding to the xMatters survey, nearly 54% of consumers said they experienced an increase in application performance errors (e.g., a service outage, a website error, a slowdown in service, etc.) with the digital services or applications they’ve used during this stay at home period.
Quickly Adapting to New Digital Reality Forces Strain on IT Team Operational Readiness and Work-Life Balance
The role of the IT professional who is always on the frontline of infrastructure readiness has been impacted by the almost overnight digital transformation within their organization. The sudden shift is diverting IT attention from core functions to new unplanned operational challenges. Delving deeper into factors behind the IT readiness and consumer experience gap reveals the possible root causes:
- 50.3% said their IT environments were now more complex
- 49.7% pointed at capacity planning as being more difficult
- 47.4% reported that they are managing more data and, perhaps relatedly, 43.4% said they need to learn new technologies in the realm of automation, orchestration and cloud computing
- 38.1% said the increased number of tools made their jobs more difficult
- 36.1% reported that they need to understand incident management and issue resolution best practices
It’s not only technology concerns that are straining IT professionals; the surge in digital services usage has also affected the personal lives of 88% of survey respondents, specifically:
- 49.7% stated they are currently working increased hours and are experiencing a diminished work-life balance
- 38.1% stated that while they may be working the same number of hours, their workday has shifted, e.g., working earlier, working later or completing tasks during non-traditional work hours
“There is no doubt that this pandemic will have widespread and long-lasting implications as it has massively altered humanity and our global economy. The world now depends on digital services to such a great extent that the people and technologies making them possible are more vital than ever,” McAlpin said. “As the world rallies together to overcome the most critical healthcare crisis our generation has faced, we, as technologists, can focus our innovation efforts towards business continuity and ensuring digital services are meeting the needs and expectations of consumers and employees across industries.”