Culture

One-on-one with Agents of Transformation: Carhartt’s Tim Masey talks full-stack observability

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Summary
A digital evolution is taking place at Carhartt. Agent of Transformation Tim Masey shares in his own words how full-stack observability plays into it.

Workwear manufacturer Carhartt has experienced explosive growth over the past decade due to an unprecedented surge in consumer demand for its durable yet stylish apparel. To support this growth without compromising the levels of product and service quality the 132-year-old brand is renowned for, the company is undertaking a substantial digital transformation initiative.

The aim is to replace conventional on-premises, hardware-based IT systems with more flexible, agile and scalable cloud systems that will enable significant gains in efficiency, cost management and scalability and allow Carhartt to handle ever-larger workloads and more complex business processes.

This long and complicated transition requires Carhartt’s IT teams to manage a hybrid environment of on-premises legacy systems, cloud-based platforms and third-party operational support services. An hour of downtime anywhere across this sprawling mass of interconnected enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, consumer-facing e-commerce, retail partners, managed service offerings (MSOs) and associated systems could result in millions of dollars in lost revenue — and negatively impact the online buying experience for their valued customers.

We interviewed Tim Masey, Carhartt Vice President of IT Infrastructure and Security, to get an update on the evolution taking place and understand how complete visibility across their entire technology stack thanks to AppDynamics has helped his team and company deliver exceptional customer experiences.

What does full-stack observability mean to you?

For me, full-stack observability means visibility into every corner of the operation and efficient troubleshooting that ensures every system from procurement through sales and customer service is working flawlessly 24/7.

How important is full-stack observability in the context of your digital transformation strategy?

We’re software driven, so full-stack observability is critical for identifying performance bottlenecks, establishing baselines for capacity planning, and managing a multi-cloud environment.

In transitioning away from “the hardware mindset” that favors throwing more resources at a problem, our IT and business teams will collaborate, using deep analytics to quickly and efficiently identify the root cause of problems and set realistic expectations.

For us success means business growth with minimal disruptions due to technology issues. We want agility, availability, massive capacity and to eliminate work that used to consume us — for example, decisions around hardware, expenditure justification and how to track resource allocations.

How do you expect that full-stack observability will enable you to deliver excellent customer experiences?

Full-stack observability will provide the crystal ball that allows us to anticipate customer needs and proactively shape rather than reactively respond to issues related to the user experience. The must-have for us is to simplify complexity for business users while still facilitating deep data dives and visualisations for IT teams, as well as integrations with critical applications.

What are you most proud of accomplishing with your team over the past year?

Our transition of SAP ERP from on-premises to the cloud for both wholesale and retail gave us the granular visibility into the heart of our business that made this a huge win for us. The cost of an hour of downtime anywhere in our environment can reach into the millions of dollars in lost revenue, and diagnosing a problem across disparate systems was extremely complicated. Now the teams responsible for our materials planning and inventory control application can quickly pinpoint whether a slowdown or outage is a problem with the application itself or something on the infrastructure side.

How has the last year changed or affected your role in the organization? What advice do you have for your peers or other technologists?

I found myself in an advocacy role because my colleagues needed some convincing that cloud would be an enabler for business growth.

My advice to others is be prepared, model the true costs of digital transformation (both hard and soft), and develop talking points that cascade across the organization. Also, remember that clear communication and facts count, stay out of technology religious wars, and root your engagement efforts in a solid knowledge of the real security benefits — and weaknesses — of the solution.

How are you partnering with AppDynamics to realize your full-stack observability vision?

We’ve had a strong partnership with AppDynamics for five years, and as we journey deeper into the cloud, we want them with us all the way — particularly because our team is in transition. We’re losing the hardware mindset, becoming performance engineers, and gaining business acumen. Partnering with AppDynamics is 100% in alignment with our business vision of unfettered growth.

From a recent AppD survey, we hear that technologists are implementing digital transformation projects on increasingly accelerated time lines — an average of 3x faster in 2020 and continuing to pick up speed — to support the business. What has been your experience? How have you and/or your organization risen to this challenge?

Growth has accelerated our transformation, and it’s also part of our company DNA. Our employees and contractors are team players and work like entrepreneurs. We’ve also integrated agile processes where it made sense to do so and formed cross-functional teams.

>>> Full-stack observability is fundamental to IT success today. But are you curious what you can expect from the next generation of solutions? Grab a copy of our e-book Building observability for the future and find out.