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Blog: Business to IT: Poor App Performance Is Killing Us

Sometimes I forget that selecting, implementing and paying for core enterprise applications are just the first steps in the long and arduous journey of managing the lifecycle of enterprise applications.

There is, of course, all the fun stuff that happens after the "go live" date: Ensuring that users are actually using the new ERP, CRM, supply chain or BI apps, that uptime stats have lots of 9s in them, downtime is minimal and planned, response times are lightning fast, and business users have a gut feeling that the overall availability of these critical applications is perfectly acceptable.

According to recent survey data from Aberdeen Research, several interesting trends have taken place during the last year relating to organizations' view of application performance.

A survey of 158 organizations in February and March 2009 reveals several bad business consequences of poor application performance:

>Nearly 65 percent of respondents reported declines in employee productivity, up from 58 percent in the 2008 survey.

>Just over 60 percent stated that problems with application performance have caused decreases in customer satisfaction, a jump up from 47 percent in 2008.

>And lastly, nearly 40 percent said that application problems damaged the company's brand, compared with 32 percent in 2008.

But when Aberdeen segmented the survey data by respondents' functional area (IT versus business), the data revealed a significant disconnect between the two camps: The business side was 93 percent more likely to report a direct impact on revenues and 30 percent more likely to report an impact on operational and infrastructure costs than IT respondents were.

In other words, IT didn't figure app downtime was that costly.

"This comes as a result of the lack of visibility and resulting understanding of how applications are impacting revenue-generating business processes," notes research analyst Bojan Simic, in the survey report.

Rather than grumbling quietly in their offices, line-of-business managers "are becoming increasingly interested in how these applications are performing," notes Simic, which, to me, is a great and much-needed development. And, in fact, the business side now wants to prevent application performance issues before end users are impacted, the top challenge cited in the Aberdeen report.

Simic writes that "it is no longer good enough to be able to address performance issues in a timely manner. Organizations are increasingly looking to be more proactive when managing application performance."

IT departments, Simic adds, face a new challenge: How to identify and resolve potential performance issues before they frustrate users by impeding their ability to get their jobs done.

Shall IT try to stop global warming as well? How about fix the banking crisis? While we're at it, let's have CIOs develop a peace plan for the Middle East.

I'm not saying that IT can't play its part in remedying the problem. There are plenty of networking tools to help do this (including the vendors that sponsored the Aberdeen survey). But network monitoring tools that can detect performance trends aren't enough.

Once again we're treading on familiar ground: the classic business-IT disconnect. This time it reveals that IT doesn't know which apps are crucial to the business, and the business hasn't cared enough to clue IT in on why those apps are so vital.

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