What exactly is Digital Experience Monitoring and why is it so damn important?
Digital Experience Monitoring or DEM in its most simplified form is the practice of making “End User Experience” the most important metric(s) being monitored for a digital service such as a mobile app or website. This means that the focus, strategy and tools of technical teams responsible for Application Performance Monitoring (APM) must shift from primarily internal infrastructure based performance metrics to external, end user experience based metrics produced by synthetic testing and real user monitoring (RUM).
Customer expectations for their digital experiences is higher than it has ever been. The average smartphone owner uses over 10 different apps on a daily basis and expects their online banking bill pay experience to be just as seamless as posting a new photo to Instagram or Facebook. Comparing the performance of a mobile app or website to competitors in the same industry is no longer as meaningful because your customer is primarily comparing it to the top 10 – 15 apps in their device (facebook, instagram, uber, etc) and expects it to perform accordingly.
The shift in the market from infrastructure based monitoring to application performance monitoring (APM) over the past few years is a realization that while keeping the lights on in your data center is definitely important, it is almost irrelevant if your customer is suffering while trying to do business with you through a digital platform. This “customer” could represent an external consumer attempting to purchase a product on your mobile app, an external business partner attempting to leverage your API or even an internal employee experiencing software slowness while attempting to assist a customer.
Ok great, I understand the importance. How do I implement DEM?
- Application Performance Monitoring (APM)
- End User Experience Monitoring
- Run-time Application Monitoring
- Business Transaction Monitoring
- Deep Dive Component Monitoring
- Service Level Management Monitoring
Implementing digital experience monitoring (DEM) in your monitoring strategy involves first ensuring that your APM strategy identifies a sub section for End User Monitoring and that it is the most heavily weighted category when scoring the performance of your digital service (up to 80% value). End User Monitoring involves capturing and reporting on performance and availability metrics from an external customer perspective. Metrics such as login time, page speed, device side errors, workflow, location based performance, outlier sessions or any other metrics that gives your business insight into the digital customer experience associated with a specific service.
If your organization has already invested in a industry leading APM monitoring tool such as New Relic, AppDynamics or Dynatrace you already have the capability to implement both synthetic monitoring and real user monitoring (RUM). Your first step should be reaching out to your vendor and requesting either a quick start or professional service engagement (or both) so your teams can quickly implement best practice and gain knowledge transfer from the vendor. Many companies will scope this type of engagement as part of their initial tool purchase to ensure ROI for stakeholders. Most (smart) vendors are open to collaborating with your technical teams in order to strengthen the relationship and to continue to sell you more of their products (lets be honest).
If your organization is invested in more traditional infrastructure monitoring tools such as Nagios, SCOM or Solarwinds it may still be worth reaching out to your vendor to understand how their latest solutions can meet your APM and End User Monitoring requirements. For example, Microsoft recently launched Operations Management Suite (OMS) which is a cloud based solution that works with (or without) on premise SCOM implementations and can provide a certain degree of external and synthetic monitoring. This may be a good short term solution if there is not currently a huge appetite or budget for a new APM solutions in your organization (there should be!). If your current vendor has confidence in their product and its functionality they should be open to providing resources and guidance in order to help you perform a proof of concept for your identified use case.
There are many attributes to consider when implementing a digital experience monitoring strategy such as software tool, on premise vs SaaS, ITSM tool integration (Remedy / ServiceNow), training, ongoing support costs, etc. but overall the most important question to ask your team is “Will the end result of this solution / strategy give us insight from a customer perspective?”. If the answer is no, you will still likely be blind to the true digital customer experience which is really the only set of metrics that truly matters.
If you found this article valuable or have any questions / feedback please leave a comment below or email me directly.