The Performance Gap: Application Performance Still Not Meeting Business Needs
January 11, 2016

Steve Brar
Riverbed Technology

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A new survey revealed a major performance gap between the needs of business and IT’s current ability to deliver – 98% of executives agree that optimal enterprise application performance is critical to achieving optimal business performance. And yet, 89% of executives say the poor performance of enterprise applications has negatively impacted their work, and 58% say it impacts their work at least weekly, according to the Riverbed Global Application Performance Survey 2015. This performance gap is causing a series of problems for companies, from lost revenue and customers to lower morale to negative impact on brand image.

Companies universally agree that business performance relies on application performance. And yet 9 out of 10 organizations suffer from poor performance on a regular basis.

One cause of this performance gap is the move to hybrid IT. Migrating apps to the cloud brings agility and cost benefits, but, with other apps still on-premises, it also brings complexity. With apps, data and users literally everywhere, the work of optimizing and delivering great app performance has gotten much tougher for IT organizations. But you can’t control what you can’t see. And in order to close the performance gap, having a clear line of sight into how the apps are performing – and how the end user experience is being impacted – has also become a business imperative.

Survey respondents specified their top three business benefits of optimal application performance versus the negative impact of poorly performing applications:

Benefits of Optimal App Performance

■ Improved employee productivity (51%)

■ Time savings (50%)

■ Cost savings (47%)

■ Improved customer satisfaction (43%)

■ Faster delivery of products to market (33%)

■ Improved employee morale (31%)

Pitfalls of Poor App Performance

■ Dissatisfied clients or customers (41%)

■ Contract delays (40%)

■ Missed a critical deadline (35%)

■ Lost clients or customers (33%)

■ Negative impact on brand (32%)

■ Decreased employee morale (29%)

The survey found that executives would be willing to sacrifice a lot for applications to work at peak performance at all times. In fact, 33% would give up their full lunch break. They would also give up a portion of their program budget (32%), caffeine (29%), and even chocolate (27%).

Given the universally recognized importance of optimal application performance, why is it so difficult for IT to deliver?

Globally, 71% of respondents say they have frequently felt “in the dark” about why their enterprise applications are running slowly, spotlighting a disconnect between IT teams and business executives. And outside the Americas region, that number grows even larger at 76% in EMEA and 75% across Asia.

Troublingly, executives can contribute to the problem as they try to work around it: 37% of respondents say they have used unsupported apps when corporate apps run slowly or stop working altogether, thus adding to infrastructure complexity with more “shadow IT.” Others have expressed frustration to colleagues (34%), taken an extended lunch (29%), used slow or down apps as an excuse for missing a deadline (26%), and even left work early (26%).

Cloud Computing Benefits Business – But Also Adds Complexity

Migrating apps to the cloud has delivered benefits to the business, but also some challenges.

Nearly all (96%) of respondents use cloud-based enterprise applications in their work, 84% say their company’s use of cloud-based enterprise applications will increase over the next two years. Executives identified the benefits of cloud-based enterprise apps as increased flexibility (58%), increased productivity (53%), cost savings (46%), increased agility (41%), and increased collaboration (40%).

That’s the good news about cloud apps. The bad news is that hybrid IT contributes to the performance gap. There is an increased difficulty in getting end-to-end visibility into the complex, hybrid IT architectures that result from the use of both cloud and on-premises apps.

83% of respondents say they believe trouble-shooting application performance issues is more difficult in a hybrid IT environment. In fact, according to a survey by Forrester[1], the majority of companies (51%) say that application complexity is now their primary obstacle to mastering application performance. On average, respondents estimate it takes 7 hours for serious app problems to be completely resolved.

In summary, business executives overwhelmingly agree that application performance is critical to business performance and driving results, yet the vast majority are impacted by poor app performance, creating a performance gap. At the same time, business executives are leveraging the power of cloud-based applications and hybrid networks to elevate productivity and create happier, more loyal customers and employees. However, cloud and hybrid environments add complexity and application performance challenges that can also negatively impact business operations, and too often executives feel “in the dark” as to why poor app performance is happening and how to stop it. To deliver superior application performance in today’s hybrid environments, enterprises need a comprehensive solution that provides end-to-end application visibility, optimization and control.

Survey Methodology: The Riverbed Global Application Performance Survey 2015 is the result of a custom online survey by Wakefield Research of 900 business executives at companies with $500 million or more in revenue. “Executives” are defined as those manager-level equivalent or above. Research was conducted in October 2015 across eight countries: US, Brazil, UK, France, Germany, China, Australia, and India. Among the 900 respondents, 200 were in the US, with 100 in each remaining country.

Steve Brar is Director of Platform & Solutions Marketing at Riverbed Technology.

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