Calm seas don’t make great sailors, and the past 15 months have been anything but calm. Yet some organizations have emerged in better shape than others — more agile, more collaborative, better able to adapt to changing business and customer needs.

What gives? Why have some firms ridden out the storm and emerged stronger than others?

A new study by Forrester Consulting, commissioned by Cisco, sheds light on this and related questions you might find helpful in identifying areas for improvement at your own organization. The first installment, Modernize Operations To Digitally Transform And Weather Any Storm, focuses on how enterprises are trying to modernize their operations to boost agility — which is key to their ability to weather adversity.

So what are firms doing today to improve their operational agility?

Among the top priorities for IT operations are improving data resilience (cited by 40% of respondents) and improving data quality (cited by 31%). After all, without the right data, there’s no hope of producing either useful insights or meaningful action. Other top goals include improving remote worker inclusion (35%), reducing costs (33%), and automation as many tasks as possible (30%).

Firms aim to improve data resilience and remote work inclusion

According to the study, the pandemic has actually served to ratchet up the importance of these priorities, a reflection of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasingly distributed nature of workforces and hybrid nature of work. It has also elevated the importance of other areas, such as improving the dependability of technology, expanding public cloud services, and identifying the root cause of issues faster.

Complexity has long been an obstacle to digital transformation. And while these challenges facing operations teams didn’t begin with the pandemic or the almost overnight virtualization of the workforce, organizations today are swimming in it…and in the deep end of the pool.

They must improve digital experiences for both employees and customers, across infrastructure that’s on premises, at the edge, and in the cloud, and incorporating advanced capabilities such as AI and IoT. They must do so across a panoply of devices, some provided by the organization, others by employees, and via a remote, mobile, and geographically dispersed workforce.

Adding to these challenges, as shown in Cisco Connected IT Insights, all this complexity creates blind spots in networks not owned or controlled by the organization — such as internet service provider (ISP) and cloud service provider (CSP) networks. These blind spots can have huge negative impacts on application performance and the overall digital experience.

The pandemic has exacerbated these challenges, and in doing so has taken a toll on many firms — with many feeling they are less collaborative and responsive to changing needs than they were before the crisis.

As stated in the first report of the study on operational agility, “If organizations don’t find a way to reverse course — by fixing issues of responsiveness and collaboration — recovery may be a long way off.”


Find out how to improve the operational agility of your organization:

Modernize Operations To Digitally Transform And Weather Any Storm



Derek Mitsumori

Marketing Manager