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Thriving app economy fuelling EMEA digital transformation boom

Thriving app economy fuelling EMEA digital transformation boom

A thriving application economy is fuelling digital transformation across EMEA and 91% of surveyed organisations in the region have specific digital transformation execution plans in progress, according to research by F5 Networks.

These plans vary in pace and are shaped specifically by the business and its sector, but generally feature several steps including that they focus on the application services required to secure, scale and digitise IT and business processes.

Additionally, factors like task automation, digital expansion, and AI-assisted business augmentation come to the fore.

The company's 2020 State of Application Services (SOAS) report claims the region compares favourably to the US with 84% and Asia Pacific, China and Japan (APCJ) with 82%.

The main reason EMEA organisations embrace digital transformation is to increase the velocity of new products or service introductions (61% of respondents). This is followed by being able to better respond and adapt to new buyers' behaviours (40%) and emerging competitors (33%).

Currently, IT optimisation (64%) and business process optimisation (55%) are the top desired digital transformation benefits, the company explains.

"Digital transformation is a profound opportunity to change business as usual," said Lori MacVittie, Principal Technical Evangelist, Office of the CTO at F5 Networks. "Crucially, it is driving the growth of application portfolios and changing the way in which they are developed, delivered, integrated, and ultimately even consumed. That also means changes in the way they are secured, scaled, and operated."

F5 Networks asserts that ultimately, applications are the engines that power the global economy.

"All businesses, irrespective of industry, are becoming application-centric with the goal of moving faster, boosting efficiency, and delivering the enhanced customer – and employee – experiences the market demands," the company stated.

However, there are challenges – and MacVittie mentions infrastructure lock-in, complex compliance requirements and an ever-evolving threat landscape.

"Enterprises face several challenges as they transform digitally, infrastructure lock-in limits their autonomy and ability to move at the speed of the business, complex compliance requirements and an ever-evolving threat landscape slows speed to market and sometimes impacts the end-customer experience of their applications. Each new applications architecture or infrastructure environment introduces dozens of new tools along the data path from the application code to the customer experience and if implemented wrong, they can increase operational complexity, require new skills, and, as a result, raise costs."

However, the availability of skilled practitioners remains a barrier in this area of operations.

"A global skills gap continues to impact on organisations' abilities to realise digital transformation ambitions. According to the SOAS report, as many as 66% of EMEA organisations believe they lack necessary security talent going forward. America is closely behind with 65% claiming the same. The problem was most pronounced in the APJC region where it was an issue for 76%," MacVittie adds.

Research shows that the most frequently reported obstacles to achieving continuous deployment remain a lack of necessary skill sets, challenges integrating toolsets across vendors and devices, and budget for new tools.

MacVittie says based on the report, network automation continues to increase as organisations seek to realise gains in speed and consistency in their race to deliver applications to the market more quickly.

"We see more consistent use of automation in the deployment pipeline this year than in previous years, at approximately 40%, automation is nearly equal across all four key component areas – application infrastructure, network, application services, and security – which illustrates a level of maturity that has grown year over year," she says.

F5 Networks explains the top sectors responding to the survey in EMEA were technology (27%), telecommunications (17%), financial services (13%), distribution and services (11%), and government/ public sector (8%).

MacVittie says the results are consistent with previous year's research and shows how IT firms continue to re-evaluate structures, processes, and workflows to drive the next phase of their journey.

"While we remain enthusiastic about the automation and process optimisation that's changing business now, our sights will soon turn to the next phase of digital transformation in which insights and data create massive opportunities. In this next stage of the journey, we believe that organisations will use these new application services to enhance the performance, security, operability, and adaptability of their apps – which will help grow the business and deliver the digital experiences that customers demand."

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