Enterprise applications like ERP, and CRM and SCM automate complex business processes where high levels of application performance are crucial. Yet many frustrated execs find that despite the small fortune they have spent on products to manage servers, networks and applications, the business constituencies still complain about the performance, usability and availability of those enterprise applications.
Traditional monitoring and management tools manage factors that impact end user experience, but they are blind to the actual end user experience. Excellent tools for measuring application availability, they provide no insight into real application performance from the perspective of the end user. The time has come to expand performance management horizons to include the end user experience. A recent report by Forrester Research, IT End User Experience Monitoring Software (June 8, 2007) set the stage with a subtitle that proclaimed The End User is the Ultimate Judge of IT Performance. Judge and jury, in fact.
If one were to think of the performance management landscape as a three-legged stool, securing solid infrastructure is the first leg, managing applications to perform well and function properly is the second leg, and the third leg is managing the end user experience — capturing metrics and monitoring the end user interaction with the application. The first two legs of the stool are critical to the success of any IT department deploying critical enterprise applications and most IT departments have these technologies installed. But while the third leg is equally important, it has not, historically, been given sufficient consideration in the discipline of application performance management.
Forrester Research has some insight that suggests that is about to change. They have recently forecast that the market for end user experience management solutions will grow by 20% in 2007. End User Experience Management software monitors enterprise applications from the perspective of the end user to capture the actual end user experience. These solutions focus on ensuring that from the end user's perspective the application is truly performing — meaning it is actually enabling them to effectively execute the key processes required for them to deliver against the responsibilities of their role. An increased focus on the end user will make the world of performance management a good deal less wobbly.
It's the end-user, stupid!
From the end user experience perspective, the application is not performing whenever the application makes it harder rather than easier to get the job done. With that perspective, end user management solutions monitor and measure a number of factors:
- Slow transaction times
- Cumbersome navigation
- System Errors (e.g. can't connect to server; data base not found)
- Non-intuitive user interface which causes excessive user errors
A full-featured end user experience management solution captures transaction response times as well as ecosystem and application errors. Because these systems are designed to be real time monitoring solutions deployed in high volume production environments, these systems capture end user metrics from all users, at all locations, at all times, across the entire application landscape. Some end user experience management solutions also capture a record of the end user interaction with the application which provides a 'play by play' recap of both application and end user behavior. These end user metrics and behavioral insight can be used for alerting and proactive remediation of end user issues — whether they are system errors, user errors or performance problems.
What is often too overlooked in the performance management discipline is that application performance isjust one of the key drivers of return on investment (ROI) from enterprise applications. Of course, an efficient, responsive infrastructure, and a well-performing application are necessary. But, it's all for naught if you do not build and sustain adoption and efficient and effective use of the application by your end users. So user performance is also critical.
Leading edge companies are discovering that a comprehensive performance management strategy must reach beyond infrastructure and application performance to the monitor, measure and manage how end users are utilizing the application to optimize business process execution. The newest generation of end user experience management solutions is extending the traditional perspective of user-centric application monitoring to include a focus on end user adoption, utilization and performance and delivering a solution designed to manage both end user experience and end user performance.
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