Newsflash: User Experience Is Bigger Than Data
September 10, 2014

Denis Goodwin
SmartBear

Share this

In a recent post, Why Today's APM Solutions Aren't Optimized for DevOps, I discussed the odd contradiction I’ve been noticing lately in the APM marketplace. Fragmented approaches to APM are being promoted as solutions to support the DevOps ideal of continuous integration and delivery, but the stark lack of integrated tools in these APM arsenals isn’t likely to make communication and collaboration between dev and ops any easier or more efficient.

That’s why integrated, unified APM solutions — consisting of software tools and testing functions that can fluently speak to each other and look at the same information at the same time — are the only hope for APM in a streamlined DevOps world. Unfortunately, even the best attempts at tool integration won’t solve the deeper issues of performance management if they approach it completely backwards from the start.


The Varieties of Anti-User Experience

The problem is, most vendors in the APM arena are looking at what they do from the wrong way around. Starting from the volumes of data that their tools generate and record, they woo and immerse their customers in “analytics.” Eventually, somewhere down the line, they may accidentally stumble upon the issues that are actually impacting end users.

Lo and behold! There are humans on the other side of this matrix. And what kind of experience are those users of the application having? It’s hard to say, since we can only extrapolate from our data and try to imagine what the quality of the user experience might be. But wait a minute – How does that make any sense? Shouldn’t we be looking at application speed and response time from the perspective of the people to whom it ultimately matters? Whose idea was it, anyway, to privilege data analytics over what our end users actually experience and perceive?

Data: A Supporting Character in a Story Written By User Experience

These are obviously rhetorical questions, because there’s always been a better way to engage in APM, and it begins and ends with the end-user. If monitoring and optimizing performance to deliver a streamlined end-user experience is our goal, then it should be obvious that the right way to go about it is to start with our end-users’ experience and work our way back through the software architecture from there.

At the end of the day, no matter how many sources of performance lags you’ve caught and corrected, your efforts only make a difference if they improve the user experience of your software. Your work needs to become user-centric, both in theory and in practice, if customer experience has any connection to your business and revenue goals (which it almost always, most certainly does).

Of course, monitoring server responses, stressing your system baselines with regular load tests, and analyzing the resulting data is essential to being able to manage the quality and reliability of your applications, day in and day out. I’m not arguing otherwise. Big-data analytics and code-level visibility are important concepts in the APM space, and I believe them to be critical components of any full-featured, end-to-end solution.

But the fact remains that user experience is actually bigger and more inclusive than data, because without a clear emphasis on your end-user experience, your deep-data dives may lose their meaning. The fact is, sometimes performance problems can’t even be found at the level of code and internal datacenters, but rather in more obvious user experience issues, like a slow web page caused by 3rd party content. As the old adage has it, if you focus only on the trees, you may lose sight of the forest ... and end up getting lost.

But perhaps Steve said it best:

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”
-Steve Jobs

Denis Goodwin is Director of Product Management, APM, AlertSite UXM, SmartBear Software.

Share this

The Latest

June 25, 2020

I've had the opportunity to work with a number of organizations embarking on their AIOps journey. I always advise them to start by evaluating their needs and the possibilities AIOps can bring to them through five different levels of AIOps maturity. This is a strategic approach that allows enterprises to achieve complete automation for long-term success ...

June 24, 2020

Sumo Logic recently commissioned an independent market research study to understand the industry momentum behind continuous intelligence — and the necessity for digital organizations to embrace a cloud-native, real-time continuous intelligence platform to support the speed and agility of business for faster decision-making, optimizing security, driving new innovation and delivering world-class customer experiences. Some of the key findings include ...

June 23, 2020

When it comes to viruses, it's typically those of the computer/digital variety that IT is concerned about. But with the ongoing pandemic, IT operations teams are on the hook to maintain business functions in the midst of rapid and massive change. One of the biggest challenges for businesses is the shift to remote work at scale. Ensuring that they can continue to provide products and services — and satisfy their customers — against this backdrop is challenging for many ...

June 22, 2020

Teams tasked with developing and delivering software are under pressure to balance the business imperative for speed with high customer expectations for quality. In the course of trying to achieve this balance, engineering organizations rely on a variety of tools, techniques and processes. The 2020 State of Software Quality report provides a snapshot of the key challenges organizations encounter when it comes to delivering quality software at speed, as well as how they are approaching these hurdles. This blog introduces its key findings ...

June 18, 2020

For IT teams, run-the-business, commodity areas such as employee help desks, device support and communication platforms are regularly placed in the crosshairs for cost takeout, but these areas are also highly visible to employees. Organizations can improve employee satisfaction and business performance by building unified functions that are measured by employee experience rather than price. This approach will ultimately fund transformation, as well as increase productivity and innovation ...

June 17, 2020

In the agile DevOps framework, there is a vital piece missing; something that previous approaches to application development did well, but has since fallen by the wayside. That is, the post-delivery portion of the toolchain. Without continuous cloud optimization, the CI/CD toolchain still produces massive inefficiencies and overspend ...

June 16, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has exponentially accelerated digital transformation projects. To better understand where IT professionals are turning for help, we analyzed the online behaviors of IT decision-makers. Our research found an increase in demand for resources related to APM, microservices and dependence on cloud services ...

June 15, 2020

The rush to the public cloud has now slowed as organizations realized that it is not a "one size fits all" solution. The main issue is the lack of deep visibility into the performance of applications provided by the host. Our own research has recently revealed that 32% of public cloud resources are currently under-utilized, and without proper direction and guidance, this will remain the case ...

June 11, 2020

The global shift to working from home (WFH) enforced by COVID-19 stay-at-home orders has had a massive impact on everyone's working lives, not just in the way they remotely interact with their teams and IT systems, but also in how they spend their working days. With both governments and businesses committed to slowly opening up offices, it's increasingly clear that a high prevalence of remote work will continue throughout 2020 and beyond. This situation begets important questions ...

June 10, 2020
In recent years, with the emergence of newer technologies ranging from the cloud to machine learning, IT modernization has evolved from a replacement of end-of-life infrastructure to an enabler of innovation and business value. It is a complex process that can take months or even years, but a recent survey shows that the effort begins to deliver measurable results almost as soon as an organization executes the first steps on its roadmap ...