This article, written by Vincent Bieri, Nexthink Co-founder, first appeared on Forbes on October 3, 2017.
It’s a technology truism: Information technology (IT) departments can no longer afford to exist as mere cost centers. Support and service must align with expected outcomes to empower the impact of CIOs at the C-suite table and boost the bottom-line. But as noted by a recent Gartner report, this entry-level effort is no longer enough; achieving best-case outcomes now depends on truly business-based IT monitoring.
The Gartner piece raises a good point: 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.