Why Focus On The End-User Experience?
Gaining the Complete View of How Your Business Services are Performing
April 15, 2011
Steve Tack
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Over the past year or so there has been a lot of buzz around the terms ‘customer experience’ and ‘end-user experience’, as well as advice on how to maximize or optimize experience. Why the focus on the end-user experience? It’s the key to driving the adoption and efficient use of critical business services.

In the past, when people spoke about the user experience of their application, the conversation was generally focused on the aesthetic design of the application, which while important is only one aspect of the overall user experience.

In order to realize the business value of your IT investments, your end users must be able to effectively use applications to achieve business results. If your business services are not available or are performing poorly, the business impact is reduced employee productivity, resulting in lost revenue and brand damage.

Traditional Business Service Management (BSM) tools have been focused on factors that impact, but don’t necessarily reflect, the actual end-user experience. While they are excellent at providing a view of infrastructure and application component availability within the data center, they are blind to service quality from the perspective that matters most, the end user.

The assumption is that if the execution of an application is not experiencing resource constraints at the application server, database server or the network, then the business service must be performing well. But as far as the business is concerned, it is "not performing" well whenever it does not work as expected — when it’s slow or when it’s unavailable at the end user’s device.

The benefits of increased agility, reduced costs, and sustainability that virtualization and cloud computing promises also represents a significant disruption in the provisioning model for the infrastructure on which applications run. The benefits can be lost if business-critical applications suffer stability, performance, or quality problems.

Rethinking BSM

You must rethink your approach to Business Service Management. If you’re only monitoring resource utilization of the infrastructure within your data center, you don’t have a complete picture of service quality without knowing how your users are experiencing it. End-user monitoring provides the most business-relevant metric when managing services, offering the “one version of truth” that can accelerate the deployment, and benefits realization, of these alternate provisioning strategies.

Today’s applications that underpin business-critical services have also become modular and distributed. Applications are essentially a set of loosely coupled services assembled at run-time into a coherent application. Rich Internet Applications (RIA) are distributing processing to the desktop.

With applications that are assembled at the time of execution, you can make the point that the application doesn’t actually exist as an entity to be monitored until the end user hits the enter key, so it makes sense to measure the performance of that application at the point of consumption by the end user.

End-user monitoring provides the ability to see end-user interaction with applications in real-time, to detect issues with applications that aren’t performing well, and react accordingly to reconcile any issues that will impact end users. As organizations begin to use a variety of devices, browsers and new operating systems, they need visibility into how these different devices, platforms, browsers, or operating systems are impacting application performance.

When it comes to measuring the overall performance and health of a business service, there is only one perspective that matters — that of the end users. What goes on in the data center isn’t the company’s business. It’s what the end users are doing that matters to the company since they’re the ones conducting the company’s business.

Without visibility into the end-user experience, you really can’t be sure if your business services are performing optimally for your end users or customers — or if they are meeting the needs of your business. By proactively measuring your end user’s experiences and all the components that contribute to it, you can detect service quality issues, quantify their business impact and quickly resolve any issue before your end users or your business is impacted.

About Steve Tack

Steve Tack is the Compuware CTO, APM Solutions. He has been working in the software and IT services industries for more than 14 years, with experience in sales and marketing, field implementation and product management. In his 11 years at Compuware, Steve has spent considerable time consulting with customers in the field in order to understand their industry, challenges, risks and strategic business needs.

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