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Understanding Digital Transformation

Digital transformation (DX) is the widespread reimagining of existing business processes or development of new ones. The goal of transformation is often to replace outdated legacy environments, support cost control requirements, and gain scale and speed of application introduction benefits. DX can also be used to compensate with vendors/technology introductions where skilled IT resources are lacking, as well as to gain the ability to introduce new revenue opportunity services that align with line of business teams, while at the same time improving customer services and experiences.

To keep up with the speed of innovation, organizations have progressively moved away from physical assets and embraced information and digital services. Accomplishing this transformation has forced organizations to increasingly rely on technology solutions, which enable them to accelerate service delivery and increase process automation.

What follows is a brief explanation of what you need to know about DX – why projects fail, how to monitor performance, the risk of limited visibility, and the most common visibility gaps organizations face.

Learn more about NETSCOUT's digital transformation visibility solutions.

Digital Transformation

Reasons For and Benefits of Digital Transformation

Cost Controls

DX initiatives can streamline business processes and make them easier to manage, thus reducing operational costs. When enterprises transition to digital technologies, they often aim to eliminate redundancies and enhance operational efficiency. Modernization, workflow automation, and strategically leveraging data insights allows for cleaner and more optimal processes. This can lead to improved productivity and reduced operational costs. To maximize DX projects, businesses should carefully align strategic objectives with cost-saving opportunities.

Lack of IT Specialization Within the Organization

As IT budgets are constantly being squeezed to contain costs, leadership strives to “do more with less”. DX offers the opportunity to leverage automation to improve process efficiency, thus reducing the burden on precious IT resources. Instead of hiring additional resources or requiring IT specialization to manage highly complex environments, DX can deliver an infrastructure that harnesses next-generation technology to simplify operations and reduce demands on overburdened personnel.

Retired or Antiquated Technology

For enterprises relying on outdated, or even, in some cases, unsupported technology, engaging in DX initiatives can present unique challenges. IT organizations inevitably face a multitier challenge of addressing existing technology debt or “tech debt”, such as in legacy systems and suboptimal software, while simultaneously attempting to modernize IT infrastructure. Left unchecked, tech debt can lead to visibility gaps, particularly in the code base of applications or codependent and independent microservices architectures where developers may struggle to fully understand the implications of domain changes or rushed cloud migrations.

Comprehensive visibility can help IT teams not only eliminate existing visibility gaps so they can identify application dependencies, but also reduce the accumulation of new tech debt. This can lead to more resilient and easier-to-maintain applications in the long run.

Deployment Speed and Flexibility for New Application Development

In a fast-paced digital marketplace, innovation and speed of deployment are table stakes for success. Faster innovation across all areas of the organization – from DevOps to software and product development and go-to-market processes – requires new technologies, such as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to achieve automation at scale. New application development requires greater agility and flexibility to meet the evolving needs of the business and its customers.

Common Challenges of Digital Transformation

Why do digital transformation projects fail?

DX projects fail for any number of reasons. Here are a few of the more common causes:

  • Misalignment to Business Outcomes - Many DX projects fail because they lack alignment with the overall objectives of the enterprise. When there is a failure to match up the business needs with the right technology approach, it will be challenging to justify a solution’s benefits. This makes it difficult to secure support from senior management that is critical to success. 
  • Lack of Shared Vision - DX initiatives can fail if the organization is unable to identify specific objectives and common goals. When this occurs, it can be difficult to obtain stakeholder, scope-creep can occur, and budgets may be exceeded.
  • Insufficient Technology Management – When technology implementation is mismanaged, project failure is virtually inevitable. This might involve selecting the wrong technology for the task, failing to properly integrate new technology with existing systems, or having inadequately trained personnel.
  • Insufficient Visibility - Collecting data across the entire enterprise is critical to identifying failure points, quantifying progress, and guiding future improvements. Without insights and metrics, it is difficult to monitor DX for success and return on investment (ROI).

What risks are associated with limited visibility during digital transformations?

Without adequate visibility, DX initiatives can be fraught with risks. For example:

  • Lack of information about networks can hamper well-informed decision-making around planning and operational resilience.
  • Loss of control due to information being stored and/or operated off-site.
  • Inability to effectively troubleshoot and resolve disruptions.
  • Inadequate use of limited resources.
  • Difficulty identifying cybersecurity vulnerabilities and attacks.

Migrating applications during DX initiatives can create new visibility gaps that jeopardize user experiences and the delivery of high-quality services. To prevent this, organizations need end-through-end insights into application dependencies, network disruptions, and security threats for reliable migration of enterprise applications and workloads.

How can you monitor digital transformation performance?

Monitoring performance is imperative to ensure the success of DX initiatives. When information spans across multiple environments, such as co-los, cloud environments, various data centers, or unified-communications-and-collaboration (UC&C) and unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) technology, sufficient instrumentation is needed to pinpoint problem areas and expedite troubleshooting of performance and user experience issues.

End-through-end visibility that enables IT professionals to easily see applications across the entire infrastructure is essential to reducing mean-time-to-resolution (MTTR). Strategically leveraging instrumentation across an organization’s environment can simplify the compilation of information and streamline the troubleshooting process to swiftly restore performance.

Monitoring DX performance involves tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with an organization’s objectives. These metrics should be business-oriented and serve to influence decision-making, process efficiency, productivity, and ROI.

What are Common Visibility Gaps That Emerge as a Result of Digital Transformations?

Digital transformation can drive multiple business opportunities. However, as enterprise IT environments become more distributed and complex, DX may increase the number and location of IT visibility gaps. As complex IT environments become more widespread and complicated – across co-los, public cloud, remote sites, load balancers, enabling services and VMware environments – the need for greater instrumentation becomes imperative.

A closer look at these common visibility gaps:

  • Colocations – Colocations have become common for many IT organizations and must deliver a quality network and application experience for customers and employees using services involving co-los for hosting or transit. Because key services are passing through the co-lo, they require constant protection from performance degradations and security threats. In addition, co-los may be interconnected with private data centers, public clouds, SaaS and UCaaS all to deliver business-critical services in the headquarters and remote offices. These connections involve wide area network (WAN) service providers, creating yet another possible gap in control and visibility that adds complexity and potential degradation or failure points. Service delivery has never been more complicated. When performance issues occur, troubleshooting colocations can be a major challenge without comprehensive visibility and analysis capabilities.

Learn more about how to overcome visibility gaps in colocations. Watch this webinar to hear from NETSCOUT experts.

  • Public Cloud – Initiating any cloud migration without sufficient monitoring to ensure application performance and availability before, during, and after the transition can create visibility gaps which make it challenging to quickly troubleshoot issues. This can cause IT organizations to lose control of their service environment performance, especially if workloads are spread over multiple on-premises or additional public cloud environments. To succeed in competitive markets and maximize their public cloud investments, organizations also need comprehensive visibility into their network environments to enable faster, more efficient remediation of issues and, ultimately, ensure the success of existing deployments and ongoing migrations.

Learn more about how to overcome visibility gaps in public cloud. Watch this webinar to hear from industry experts. 

  • Remote Offices – DX has evolved the modern-day workforce, with employees working from remote sites around the world. These remote sites require instrumentation with deep packet inspection to prevent gaps in visibility. To ensure a high-quality, positive digital user experiences from every remote site, organizations need to continuously monitor the performance of SaaS and UCaaS applications, third-party WAN services, ISP-provided services like DNS, tunnel connections like VPN, SD-WAN, and SASE, and traffic flow at the local area network.

Learn more about how to overcome visibility gaps in remote office environments. Watch this webinar to hear from industry experts.

  • Load Balancers - When operating correctly, load balancers efficiently distribute network traffic and manage application requests at scale across multiple servers and domains. However, insufficient monitoring, data collection, and analysis of IT assets may result in visibility gaps in those domains that can make it challenging for IT teams to proactively address problems impacting load balancer performance. This can lead to overloaded servers, downtime, slowdowns, security breaches, and other operational challenges. Utilizing robust network and application performance monitoring solutions alongside load balancers becomes a strategic advantage for companies seeking to thrive in a continuously available, connected digital landscape.

Learn more about how to overcome visibility with load balancers. Watch this webinar to hear from industry experts.

  • Enabling Services - Business-critical applications rely on a supporting set of services that are necessary for any user, networking device, and/or application to operate properly. These are known as service enablers, and they provide authentication, network privileges, DNS, and other critical ancillary functions. As DX initiatives have moved applications to colocation sites and/or the cloud, or companies have adopted SaaS and UCaaS hosted applications, the deployment, locations, and use of enabling services needs to be strategically designed into the plans. Performance visibility for service enablers is vital in helping understand your application service dependencies, ensure enablers are moved with those services, and provide health and utilization metrics to help avoid or quickly rectify issues that might cause a slow-down or an outage that can affect multiple mission-critical applications.

Learn more about how to overcome visibility gaps in enabling services. Watch this webinar to hear from industry experts.

  • VMware Environments - Applications hosted in VMware environments interact with applications and services hosted on non-VMware platforms, sometimes located in the public cloud and with SaaS providers. Problems with performance of any of these applications have the potential to disrupt employees, customers, and/or partners that use those services. Application service degradations can impact productivity, customer service, revenue, or even corporate reputation. As a result, VMware environments need to be carefully managed and monitored with end-through-end visibility to ensure quality performance is maintained.

Learn more about how to overcome visibility gaps in VMware environments. Watch this webinar to hear from industry experts.

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