How to Improve User Productivity with APM

90% of IT exes say their end users struggle with business technology problems that they have no way to detect, according Forrester Research

Even in the most mature IT organizations, users lose over 20 minutes a day due to device failures and loss of access to critical enterprise applications and services. Effectively improving user productivity requires APM tools that have the ability to analyze performance from the point of consumption, the user’s device. Here are three tips on getting the best productivity from your applications and your cloud vendors.

Tip 1: Isolate problems faster by monitoring the actual end user experience

Users have high hopes for cloud environments, with the vast majority (80%) expecting them to meet or exceed the performance of on-premise systems. Yet companies use APM tools to monitor only about 5% of business-critical apps, and most of those are providing extrapolated data from the server’s point of view. What’s needed is a system to monitor the actual end user experience from the point of consumption, whether that is a mobile device, tablet, laptop, or PC. That way, IT can quickly detect, prioritize problems, and resolve issues.

Travis Perkins is the UK’s largest distributor of building materials, running 23 different businesses with over 28,000 employees across more than 2,000 sites. While the company is 200 years old, they operate in a modern and competitive business environment. Before moving to the cloud, Travis Perkins used a diverse set of tools that overlapped in some areas but missed others, leaving them with an inconsistent view of what end-users were facing. Part of their digital strategy is ensuring that every location and customer has a high-quality IT experience for all apps, from email to specialized design tools. Travis Perkins now monitors the end-user experience of their employees and customers. What’s more, they have gained much earlier insight into potential problem areas, reduced time to resolution, and enhanced productivity.

Tip 2: Validate that IT initiatives deliver the expected gains in workforce productivity

Each user’s experience is affected by a range of factors, from the state of their device, performance of intermediate systems and networks, and of course the actual application code. Correlating three detailed streams of data – user interactions, device health, and application performance – enables IT organizations to analyze and identify trends in application behavior. Organizations can track application usage and verify that they are getting the expected gains in productivity. By analyzing performance before and after changes, IT can use APM data to directly demonstrate the effectiveness of strategic initiatives. Is migration to Microsoft Office 365 delivering the expected performance gains? Are end users adopting new business intelligence applications that will help them do their jobs more effectively?

Baker Donelson is a 130-year-old law firm with more than 750 attorneys and policy advisors covering over 30 practice areas and spread across 22 offices in the southeastern United States. To provide better service to their clients and ensure seamless connectivity among their offices, they have moved almost 80% of the firm’s primary applications into the cloud. With detailed user experience metrics, their APM tools provide them with an integrated view of real end user experience, without requiring any custom programming. They can then detect problems proactively and ensure that their investment in SaaS delivers the performance that their lawyers need.

Tip 3: Hold cloud vendors accountable

APM data is great for identifying issues and prioritizing resources, but it is invaluable for working with cloud providers to pinpoint where a problem is occurring with SaaS applications. Since most cloud SLAs stop at the edge, linking user experience to specific cloud services or infrastructure is challenging.

To gain better visibility, IT can monitor the application performance as seen by the end user. Performance delays can then be broken down the client device, the network, and the SaaS infrastructure. End User Support teams can quickly determine whether the major contributor of delay is the SaaS backend infrastructure and armed with detailed data, work with the cloud vendor to resolve the issue. The result: faster problem resolution, less finger pointing, and happier end users.

Meeting and exceeding expectations

Even in the most mature organizations, users lose productivity due to device failures and performance issues in business-critical applications. To improve user productivity and gain better visibility into performance, IT needs to measure end user experience for all types of enterprise apps, on all devices, for every transaction. This includes desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, point-of-sale devices, and any other user-interaction device. It means cloud apps, mobile apps, iOS, Android, thin clients, thick clients, and the growing range of hybrid combinations. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if all the lights are green on the infrastructure if users are complaining of poor performance and if productivity suffers.

About the Author

Gayle Levin is director of solutions marketing at Riverbed Technologies. Previously, she held product marketing and campaign roles at VMware, Oracle, and Splunk as well as several startups. Her interests lie in the impact of technology on the way we think and work today.