The past two decades have been marked by rapid advances in technology—revolutionising how businesses operate, collaborate, and compete. From cloud to cyber, blockchain to chatbots, SaaS to microservices, the pace and scale of change has been breathtaking at times. 

Yet, despite the vast opportunities these new technologies offer businesses—it is not all good news. In most cases, technology that was introduced to promote simplicity is instead creating complexity—bringing new headaches for IT teams.

So, why is technology becoming so complex?

Things ain’t what they used to be

Remember desk phones, fax machines, and printers? It’s hard to contemplate that just a decade or so ago these technologies were just as critical for modern collaboration apps such as Zoom, Slack and MS Teams.

Today the office is available in your pocket. With just one device you can collaborate from anywhere and access all the services you used to from a physical office. For IT teams, this means the technology environment they need to manage is much more dynamic and fast-moving than it used to be.

Additionally, as technology is now seen as an enabler of change, most businesses are leveraging multiple technology ecosystems to help drive competitive advantage. Of course more choice is great, especially when it comes to technology, but it is not without risks. The more moving parts IT teams have to oversee and manage, the greater the complexity, and the higher the risk of something going wrong!

The mighty app explosion – bringing order to chaos

Today, there are apps for everything. And, according to Statista, the explosion in app usage shows no sign of slowing down, with enterprises now using an average of 80 different software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps. There’s no doubt that SaaS is revolutionising how we all work, but if IT teams are not able to monitor and manage these apps effectively they open the door to more security risks and vulnerabilities.

Digital and legacy: unlikely bedfellows? 

If it isn’t tricky enough for IT teams to keep pace with all the new technology on the market, many are still wrestling with ageing legacy systems—often too expensive, cumbersome, or risky to replace. As well as offering zero flexibility, these systems can seriously inhibit innovation. And, with poor interoperability as a standard, these creaking systems can pose serious threats to security and stability.

Consider the example of a recent outage—allegedly caused by a third-party provider—which wiped out the websites of several high-profile global brands, including Delta Air Lines, British Airways, Capital One, Go Daddy, Vanguard, UPS, LastPass, AT&T and Costco. 

The business consequences of outages like this can be catastrophic if the right processes are not in place to address problems fast.

Confronting complexity

Managing today’s complex and highly interconnected systems is no mean feat. Modern IT teams must balance both the tactical and strategic demands that come with running such a high-powered environment. On the one hand, teams need to ensure operational stability and high performance across existing services, and on the other, they need to keep pace with a rapidly changing technology landscape.

So what practical steps can businesses take to combat this growing complexity? Here are our top five top tips for success:

1. Understand what your technology is there to achieve

Before you do anything else it’s essential to understand what all your apps, systems and processes are there to achieve. What problem are they solving? What functions are they performing? What business value are they delivering? Over time, technology systems become more and more layered and unpredictable, making it increasingly challenging to understand how all the individual parts work together.

2. Instil common operating principles and frameworks

Tackling complexity requires a common approach across your entire IT environment. If all your teams are following different methods or frameworks how can you truly assess performance? Implementing consistent and common operating principles and frameworks across your environment will ensure you have robust foundations in place to deal with future challenges.

3. Observe, monitor, repeat

As complexity grows it can be really challenging— if not impossible— to achieve an end to end transparency across your environment. Alarmingly, a survey by Dynatrace (Source: Forbes) reveals that an average organization has full observability into just 11% of its application and infrastructure environments. And, shocking still, only 13% have end-to-end observability into the user experience across their apps and websites. 

IT Observability is critical in understanding how technology is performing at any given moment in time. It also helps teams identify and resolve issues fast before they cause serious business problems. 

With effective monitoring and observability practices in place, IT teams can take advantage of new technological advances like Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations —AIOps— to tame complexity as their IT environment grows.

4. Automate, automate, automate

Introducing automation wherever you can will really help drive down complexity. Automation not only reduces the need to perform repetitive tasks but also frees up time for your team to focus on higher-value work. More automation will also help speed up your response time should any issues occur. But where do you start? Dedicated automation squads are a highly effective way to target specific automation routines and ensure you derive maximum value from them. Squads are also a great way to help IT teams build momentum around automation and scale up their efforts as complexity grows.

5. Maximise the data you already have

It’s critical to take advantage of the data your technology is already generating to better understand your environment. If you are running legacy systems alongside digital, it’s likely you are not tapping into a wealth of data buried between these different systems. 

First things first, consolidate your data. Next, implement a best practice framework for extracting, processing, and analysing your data to make real-time improvements across your IT environment.

Staying ahead of the complexity curve

As today’s technology continues to evolve, complexity will intensify. Instead of avoiding it, businesses must combat it head-on to ensure their IT environment is in the best shape possible for the future.

Struggling to navigate complexity? We can help, contact our team today.

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