APMdigest just posted a list of 10 Bottom-Line Business Benefits of APM. This is an important list, because I think the industry sometimes forgets that this is what Application Performance Management should be all about. It seems that sometimes the industry gets too caught up in the IT benefits of APM, and forgets about the business benefits of APM — even though those are the benefits that really matter in the end.
If a company is not gaining the basic business benefits from APM such as maintaining business continuity, satisfying customers, boosting productivity — all leading ultimately to increasing revenue and decreasing costs, either directly or indirectly — then what is the point of APM?
There can be some debate about the use of the term "bottom-line" on the list. A purist might say that phrase should only apply to those benefits that directly impact the literal bottom line, in terms of revenue or cost. I am not that strict with the term. So I included business benefits that indirectly impact the bottom line as well, like end user experience and customer satisfaction. For this list, the term "bottom-line business benefits" is used simply as a way to distinguish the ultimate business benefits from the technological advantages that IT might gain from APM.
For example, a major selling point of APM is the ability to identify and fix a performance issue before it becomes a performance crisis. APM solutions are commonly marketed in this way. And this is an important capability for IT, but it is not a bottom-line business benefit. I think it is essential for companies deploying APM to be able to see the business benefit on the other end, the result from fixing these problems.
In a blog posted today, OpTier's Mousa Ackall said, "You don’t often hear senior executives in the boardroom talking about the importance of bottom-up infrastructure monitoring or enhanced application visibility. Rather, the usual party lines revolve around revenue, profitability, and market share."
When gathering quotes for this list, however, I was surprised how many vendors just did not understand what I meant by "bottom-line business benefit". I am not going to name anyone, but several vendors sent me benefits such as "cutting mean time to resolution", "increased visibility into all components of the application" and "show everyone in an organization that systems and apps are healthy". While these are all clearly benefits to IT, they are not the bottom-line business benefits.
Buyers and users of APM technology should be looking at the big picture, which includes the business benefits, and therefore vendors must be looking at this as well - and it seems at least part of the market is not there yet.
Other vendors got it right away, however. For example, in a recent APMdigest Q&A, Nicola Sanna, President and CEO of Netuitive, described it perfectly:
"I was talking with one of the Big Five IT service management vendors and they told me they are still speaking to the IT operations people about technical functions and technical benefits. The vendors are struggling with speaking the language of the C-level person and the line of business executive. This requires teaching the sales team and the professional services organization to speak to a new class of people, the C levels and line of business owners, about their business problems ... Many vendors cannot speak in those business terms. They speak in generic IT terms, but do not speak the language of the business. Being able to frame the issue in terms of business terms, that is what the vendors are struggling with, and they need to get better at that."
In the end, the educated APM stakeholders can force this discussion — and hopefully our latest list will help a little. Next time you are going to invest in a new APM tool or service, ask your vendor for a list of bottom-line business benefits.