Dynamic technologies and infrastructure allow server failures and network issues to be quickly addressed, easily mitigated and, in many cases, reliably predicted. As a result, there’s a new venue opening for IT: end-user telemetry, which enables IT to determine how its internal users are consuming business resources, what type of application issues they are experiencing and how it impacts business performance.
Gartner suggests that infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders must change their approach and prioritize top-down business-oriented metrics. The research firm predicts that “60% of IT monitoring investments will include a focus on business-relevant metrics” by 2021, up from just 20% this year.
Changing The Game
Of course, it’s one thing to recognize the value of business-driven metrics and another to implement effective monitoring processes company-wide to overcome key barriers to effective digital transformation.
The first step is understanding the fundamental shift required. While current monitoring tools typically rely on application performance monitoring (APM), these metrics aren’t dynamic or granular enough to provide line-of-business value. For example, it’s valuable for IT to understand software issues experienced by end users. If one or more staff members encounter problems accessing specific applications, this data helps address and resolve specific problems and limits employee frustration. However, it does little to advance long-term business strategy.
Now consider the adoption of digital experience monitoring (DEM) tools, which collect a range of employee data in real time, allowing companies to create performance-driven analytics policies. In effect, DEM leverages granular metrics to produce big-picture strategies by employing analytic platforms capable of collecting and integrating data from multiple sources, giving real-time insight into business-critical KPIs.
So what does this look like in practice? Consider the company-wide collection of data pertaining to the use of CRM tools -- are there specific features missing or functions unused that can help businesses save money or increase revenue? Historically, collecting this data relied on user-response surveys or self-reporting, but this presents the double problem of inaccurate descriptions and unverifiable data. DEM tools let IT teams see exactly where apps are performing as intended and where business-driven alternatives can be implemented.
So how do companies just beginning the transition to being an end-user-focused business begin the journey? Below are four key strategies:
1. Start with a plan. Leverage both C-suite and IT insight to define business goals and identify necessary metrics to empower these outcomes.
2. Build out analytics capabilities. You can leverage cutting-edge platforms capable of providing clear, real-time end-user insight.
3. Listen to the end user. A recent Forrester Consulting study created for our company found that only 34% of end users think their satisfaction is a priority for IT. Get to know your internal customers, learn about their frustrations and understand how you can help to ensure that technology is their business enabler, not an obstacle to their productivity.
4. Focus on the big picture. The sheer amount of user data generated makes it easy to get bogged down; use autonomous processes to handle necessary infrastructure maintenance and make use of granular metrics to reduce IT costs, improve service delivery and identify new business opportunities.
It’s clear that IT departments can no longer afford to exist as cost centers but instead need to become strategic drivers of the business. Support and service must align with expected outcomes from the C-suite and the end point -- and it all begins and ends with improved business-user telemetry.
For IT monitoring, it’s business metrics that really matter.
In the past, if a server went down, it would often be catastrophic. Now, with today’s highly dynamic technology infrastructures, server, storage and network failures are no longer a death sentence.
Thanks to the cloud, virtual machines (VMs), containers and software-defined resources, new functionality can often be deployed without the end user knowing. The way the business consumes IT resources is via services or applications, without exposure to the underlying infrastructure.
By 2021, 60% of IT monitoring investments will include a focus on business-relevant metrics, up from less than 20% in 2017.
As a result, the IT monitoring efforts of infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders should not start with collecting data from the infrastructure, but instead, should start with the business in mind.
Gartner predicts that by 2021, 60% of IT monitoring investments will include a focus on business-relevant metrics, up from less than 20% in 2017.
“Monitoring from the perspective of the business really means that enterprises should try to collect information that helps ascertain a business’ health,” said Will Cappelli, research vice president at Gartner. “Business performance is the only thing that really matters in terms of the goal of your IT monitoring activities.”
Kick Off an IT Monitoring Strategy
Many I&O leaders don’t know where to begin when initiating an IT monitoring strategy.
Approximately 25% of Gartner client inquiries about IT monitoring over the past few years have had some discussion related to where and how to implement it. However, during that time, the answer to this line of inquiry has changed.
Historically, the focus was on starting from the ground up — at the infrastructure “hardware level” of servers, storage and networks — then building up from there. What this starting point failed to deliver was business relevance. Due to the changing nature of infrastructure and application architecture, it no longer makes sense to begin data collection efforts from a perspective that is unlikely to provide insight into the end-user’s experience.
The good news is that with modern digital experience monitoring (DEM) and application performance monitoring (APM) tools, visibility into metrics that matter to the business is becoming easier to obtain.
For organizations just starting their IT monitoring journey, Gartner recommends:
Start the enterprise’s IT monitoring strategy by deploying technology that provides insight into the end-user perspective.
Implement custom instrumentation, where necessary, to integrate business-relevant metrics once basic end-user monitoring is deployed.
Focus on how IT aligns with the business — the initial business metrics should concentrate on the “stage” of the business-to-IT relationship.
Incorporate requirements from other monitoring stakeholders, especially line-of-business and application owners.
Build your IT monitoring approach to be delivered as a service by ensuring that non-IT operations personnel are able to select only the data that is important to them
Infrastructure and operations leaders must use a business-oriented, top-down approach and identify ways to improve overall monitoring costs and delivery.
“Remember that the goal of such a service is not so much for central IT to monitor digital business processes directly. Instead, it’s meant to give digitalized business units the power to do their own monitoring in a way that is effective and flexible, but, at the same time, cost-efficient,” said Cappelli.