Application Monitor to Deliver Transparency to Improve End-User Satisfaction
By Robert Dulak, CIO, Lighthouse Guild
I am the CIO of Lighthouse Guild the leading organization dedicated to addressing and preventing vision loss.
I want to focus this discussion on end-user satisfaction to address users of organizational application and not application for clients/patients who have vision loss. I can envision that with additional adaption, these same application monitoring solutions can help service applications for clients with vision loss.
From a CIO perspective, a key evolving topic is improved transparency and end-user satisfaction with usability of an application. Better software is also a key to end-user satisfaction, but not the focus of this article. The focus is on improving the management of applications performance through greater transparency across the entire IT eco-system.
Improving end-user satisfaction is not a new topic but is rapidly growing in critical delivery as internal IT has loosened the reins on direct control of the IT eco-system.
IT strategically has to manage technology to align with their organization and provide solutions that advance the organization goals. IT needs applications that monitor the entire IT eco-system; which includes internal and external providers of communication and applications.
Let’s start with what has changed to make these application suites necessary.
The impacts of social media, always-on user base, multiple end-user devices platforms, software as service, wholesale outsourcing, internet of things, cybersecurity monitoring and defense systems, analytics for all, paperless work environments, mobile/around the clock workforces, etc. IT has evolved rapidly to pace change, but the increasing velocity of change is stressing IT to the limits and has exposed blind spots and ownership issues in providing great end-user experience/satisfaction.
Fortunately, there are evolving application/network monitoring platforms that help connect end to end to provide more transparency in supporting critical organization applications with real-time transaction tracking and performance monitoring.
“The approach is to improve the management of application performance through greater transparency across the entire IT eco-system”
First of all, there are many tools available to IT teams to manage data centers, networks, and end-user applications. There exist advance hosting vendors that have developed end-to-end tools to manage their application and do a quality job in managing end-user experience.
A Typical IT Incident with An End-user of An Application
When an end-user has a problem with an application. Often after the end-user tries to address their problem, but frequently they either give up or possibly they may have reported this issue to the help desk (and usually a ticket is opened). The help desk or other phone specialist will attempt to resolve the issue. However, a more complex issues will be escalated to the next level of technology support. Overall this troubleshooting process can be piecemeal across many teams and vendors (contracts), often occurring post event and each IT participant has fractional/select forensic evidence. This event is common and impacts organization productivity and decrease overall satisfaction with all involved. Many a time this effort turns into the blame game! How do we start to improve this process?
As an organization leader, we need internal capabilities to manage all critical applications across the entire IT eco-system. We need suits of tools (an application suite) that manage critical application that are always active and provide near real-time results.
A key element of these solutions is a locally embedded agent that collects data in real-time. These are installed throughout an IT infrastructure and are successful due to low resource use that has little impact to application performance.
Internal: An air traffic control center like service with thresholds level alerting, that monitors end-to-end performance and uses modern data analytic type dashboards with drill down capabilities that can be used by IT. Also selectively distributed to 3rd parties to use as single source of truth of overall performance. This allows a more focused and more rapid issue resolution. Transparency!
External: Distributed modified self-service dashboards designed to provide business management, leadership, etc. with customized views to monitor their service levels. Transparency!
Of course, the creation of this type of service model requires proof of concept, buy-in at the organization level; but also, buy-in from IT (local and remote) to expose their domain.
The best bet is to start with a pilot for a major application to show-case capabilities and to deliver more transparencies to the process. Usually internal IT is ok with a pilot that provides IT management control that includes external vendors, but be are hesitant to provide business owners dashboard until the internal monitor is understood and smoothly integrated with the local IT eco-system.
I would also recommend a strategic road-map to develop coverage and deliver self-service.
Lighthouse Guild has deployed an application/network monitor software to monitor specific local applications to solve performance issues. More importantly, we have used application monitor to effectively improve application troubleshooting with enterprise level remote hosted applications. The capabilities of this application help create a single source of truth and led to better application performance. Now we are working to develop an additional internal IT dashboard to improve real-time monitoring of critical services. We are still on the path to total transparency, but now we have a means to an end.
In closing, I also believe that AI algorithms will play a more prominent role in diagnostics, alerting and reporting for these applications in the near future.