With business rapidly embracing digital transformation, it's not a stretch to say that digital end user experience, whether applied to customer experience delivered via web applications or employee productivity delivered via SaaS or internal enterprise applications, is an existential matter. In short, digital experience is the business now. However, IT teams often find their existing monitoring tools and performance data fall short when it comes to ascertaining how users are faring and solving business-impacting outages, a shortcoming that has given rise to Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM) technologies.
The Digital Experience Visibility Problem
While companies typically have a toolbox full of monitoring tools, they are from a bygone day when front end and back end applications all lived in corporate data centers, all employees sat in branch offices working exclusively on laptops, and connections were over infrastructure owned or controlled by IT operations teams. In that highly controlled IT environment, formulating a monitoring strategy to understand performance was relatively easy.
But we don't live in that world anymore.
Customer and employee users sit everywhere, literally. Branches, homes, hotels, client sites, cafes, co-working spaces, you name it. They're just as likely to be using IoS or Android as laptops, interfacing with mobile apps, and their expectations of application response time are based on how they experience page loads from Google and Facebook. Furthermore, users aren't necessarily human. Internet of things devices and various micro-service components themselves are users of many other services. Applications are developed in the cloud by DevOps teams using highly distributed micro-services architectures. Increasingly, employee-facing applications are simply consumed via SaaS. Branches and individual employees connect directly to the Internet to get better cloud performance.
In this world, the number of service chain dependencies required to deliver a great digital experience to a customer or employee has exploded. Many of those dependencies, like ISPs and cloud providers, lie completely out of IT's control.
Armed with tools from that bygone era, IT teams suffer from a plethora of monitoring blind spots along the delivery chain that bedevil efforts to understand problems and solve downtime issues. Are degradation issues stemming from a problem with the end user’s device? WiFi? The branch office Internet connection? One of many external service providers? The Internet? The application itself?
Without direct, real-time data, too often today insights into digital experiences are gleaned by combing through help desk issues. That less-than-ideal approach can be costly when digital experience is core to employee engagement and productivity, or the difference between a customer placing an ecommerce order or finding another supplier.
What is Digital Experience Monitoring?
DEM makes it possible to get a view of application performance issues from the vantage point of the user's experience, isolate service performance problems across the delivery chain, speed root cause determination and resolution, and optimize business transactions and customer journeys.
According to Gartner’s Market Guide for Digital Experience Monitoring:
Digital experience monitoring (DEM) is a performance analysis discipline that supports the optimization of the operational experience and behavior of a digital agent, human or machine, with the application and service portfolio of enterprises. These users, human or digital, can be a mix of external users outside the firewall and inside it. This discipline also seeks to observe and model the behavior of users as a flow of interactions in the form of a customer journey.
Where DEM fits in
DEM solutions complement existing Application Performance Monitoring (APM) and Network Performance Monitoring and Diagnostic (NPMD) tools. Together they provide an end-to-end picture, with DEM also adding insight into user experience, and it is those experiences which most directly translate into business outcomes.
While some of these technologies are already in use, the trick is being able to pull together the data they collect – or find new data — to arrive at the experience picture.
Considerations to keep in mind when formulating a DEM strategy and evaluating experience monitoring tools include: Is the solution cloud- or appliance-based? How much additional instrumentation will be required? How can existing tools be leveraged? How long will it take before the solution begins delivering results?
Adding it up, DEM can enable you to:
- Get a user-centric view of what is actually transpiring. How is the end-point performing? What applications are in use and how are they performing? What does the underlying network path look like? How are your SaaS applications holding up?
- Isolate problems affecting performance, starting with, is it the end user device, the network, the application?
- And prioritize performance problems for remediation based on where you can get the biggest bang for the buck.
Gartner is bullish on the Digital Experience Monitoring market. It says DEM is growing at a 10% compound annual growth rate and that by 2023 “60% of digital business initiatives will require [IT operations teams] to report on users’ digital experiences, up from less than 15% today.”
To learn more, read our blog post on "Understanding Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM)".