The digital business is focused on the customer journey and real-time performance monitoring is a critical success factor on your digital business journey. The digital business is connecting more and more internal systems and third party partner systems to deliver the customer journey. Creating a complex environment.
Application performance management practices and tools provide a great value to the digital business; from accelerating the root-cause analysis process, to proactively measuring the customer experience across the mobile and web channels, and providing business transaction dashboards. When the full set of APM tools are used properly they can provide alerting and trending information so you find out whether the change to the application or system did no harm, some harm or really caused a problem. You can quickly react to the latest digital marketing event.
In my position, as a CTO and a Sr. performance engineer, I have used many different APM tools and diagnostic tools. Unfortunately, these tools are brought in to a company as a reaction to a problem and not brought in before there is a problem. These tools are usually brought into the company to help solve an immediate production performance or stability problem. It starts with the developer, engineer, or operations person or team, who have to solve the problem. The system is slow (what, where, when, who, how??). To quickly get an APM tool in place for such a scenario, the free download option is used for a short period or a vendor is used for a proof-of-concept and the problem is solved. However, to keep the tool and to switch from a reactive to a proactive position, there is no budget at the time because the tool was not identified last year. So, the people on the ground are stuck, no APM tool.
No one really knows why the system is slow, in fact, they usually can’t even tell you what they mean by slow, is it 5 seconds, 10, or 42 seconds. It is amazing that this is still the rule in most fortune 1,000 companies. Often times the corporate desktop or laptop is locked-down, no changes unless approved. The issue is that a enterprise end-user cannot download and install any software on the corporate laptop or desktop. With web performance tools (Appdynamics, New Relic, YSlow, Dynatrace, HTTPWatch, et al), having the ability to download and instantly measure the response times of web transaction, SLOW can be measured quickly.
Figure 1 – Industry Benchmark – Dynatrace
Know Your Business
Let’s talk about business value and business benefit. What are the goals of your business this year? If you are in the Insurance business; Is it to capture the business of more independent agents by improving their customer experience? Wouldn’t there be value you knew your digital customer experience? Also, if you sell on the web then you know that faster response times mean increased revenue. What if you run a distribution center, what is the goal there? The business goal is to increase revenue and the distribution center must move more orders. That requires a highly available environment and a responsive environment. Don’t forget call centers.
Understand the digital business motivation for performance and user experience dashboards. They help proactively monitoring the customer journey. There are a number of third party companies that monitor the performance of web sites across industries to establish benchmarks. The business maybe motivated to move up in the industry benchmark and understand that some investment is needed to move from the 20th position to the top five.
Your homework: Go find your company business goals; there should be 4-6 of them.
Payback Period, Direct Benefit, and Indirect Benefit
Technology often gets caught in the budgeting process when you cannot clearly link the investment (purchase) to a business goal and benefit. Many technologies are far away from revenue or cost reduction, and how do you quantify flexibility? The ability to invest in technology and the willingness to invest in technology varies greatly by industry and by the type of application. Online web retailers relentlessly work to improve the user experience and user performance, the business understands the connection to performance and revenue. They can quickly justify the investment in APM solutions.
Direct benefit: The APM investment you are making will improve the application performance and customer experience for the Independent Agents. This is lined up with the company goal to attract more Independent Agents and increase revenue. If the business can attract 15% more IA then revenue increases by XXX%.
Indirect benefit: The APM investment will defer technology (server) purchases for two quarters. If the business has a cost containment goal then this will align with it.
Payback period: There will be an initial investment required ($100K), recurring charges ($15K), and one time training expenses. Based on your direct and in-direct benefits, how long is the payback period?
Digital business and the customer journey: An Agile digital business introduces new features and functions to the marketplace, frequently. Are all your customer channels providing the same experience? Creating a real-time dashboard of the channels and the critical business transactions provides value to the business by providing leading indicators of their experience.
Your homework: Does your APM investment provide a direct benefit or an in-direct benefit? How long will the payback period be?