Staring down the runway of 2023 and toward 2024, I’m wondering what will become of the digital transformation initiatives that began pre-Covid and accelerated over the past two-plus years. We’re certainly not entering a “stop transforming” period. So, what will transformation look like going forward?
- Economic uncertainty is rising; profits, margins, and positive cash flow are under pressure.
- High-tech job losses are mounting.
- The pendulum seems to be swinging from Next-Gen-Everything to realistically acknowledging that “Current-Gen” still exists, delivers value and matters as much as ever.
- Digital is going full speed.
The use of “digital transformation” as a buzzword from years ago has given way to actual, transformative digital progress across industries such as retail, banking, insurance, health, and even postal services.
We’re just getting started.
2023 Theme #2: Business services become a viable organizing principle
If you missed my prior blog, “IT Operations in 2023: Mapping IT to Business Goals,“ you can find it here.
Digital experience, in large part, is the objective. When humans are involved, experience is the result of a digital service being delivered: a transaction completed, a profile updated, or a shipment tracked.
As more businesses digitize and reach more users via the web or mobile devices, the “digital experience” of any business service is the key to success. If a digital service does not perform and fails to meet or exceed expectations, consumers lose interest and may abandon it. Highly performing services, on the other hand, increase engagement.
Organizing teams, defining objectives, and orienting planning and budgets (for both business and IT) around digital business services provides an opportunity to put digital experience at the center. Data from IT Operations can facilitate this.
Many IT Operations teams are focused on “inside-out” monitoring. They monitor IT assets that reside in their data centers or are within their control to ensure availability, health, and performance.
Unfortunately, this is only one side of the coin. It misses “outside-in” monitoring, which reflects how business applications are experienced. Today, that experience is also greatly influenced by the quality of the internet, the remoteness of the user’s location, the back-end infrastructure, the use of caching and CDNs at regional sites, the quality of network links, and more. All these factors can significantly improve or degrade the user experience. Think of these as daisy-chained risks and opportunities of a digital service.
There are two common approaches to measure the net-result of these factors:
- Real User Experience. Here, a set of tools collect data about a user's interaction with an application via the browser or mobile device. This includes sessions, navigational errors, failures in page loads, and other real-user interactions and metrics.
- Synthetic Monitoring. These tools emulate users and the paths they might take. This is achieved via scripts that generate simulated user behavior for different scenarios. These may include a variety of variables such as geographic location, device type, and many others.
While neither of these approaches is new, the data collected by each of these groups of tools is often confined to - and used by - siloed teams. Application teams focus on application-related data. Network teams focus on network data. Database and other infrastructure teams focus on database-related and other infrastructure data.
Borrowing from the Indian parable: Let’s help each team “See the Elephant.”
Why not augment each team’s understanding of customer experience by attaching (or mapping) the inside-out and outside-in monitoring data to the actual business services customers value? And go further: include the health and performance of business services in your definitions of business SLIs and SLOs. Think of how this could align all teams across IT and put the customer experience of business services at the center. It would change how teams communicate and work together.
So, if IT Operations data can facilitate this re-organization around digital business services, the question becomes: where shall we aggregate and visualize all this data obtained via different tools, managed by different teams?
Insights from this data has value for –and should be consumed by– different hierarchies of users such as practitioners and managers within IT Operations, IT directors/VPs, line-of-business managers, and CxOs. These insights need a home. Relying on the CMDB is one option, but this would require exporting and continually updating some business intelligence (BI) tool. Another option would require loading the data to a data warehouse or big data platform, then perpetually updating the service models as digital services dynamically evolve.
There’s a better way to capture and share the insights and keep them actionable, with appropriate context, for all stakeholders.
This is a key attribute for Service Observability. Services Observability delivered by AIOps from Broadcom can help rally IT Operations teams and business owners around digital experience and make business services a powerful organizing principle. Stay tuned for more on this in future blog posts.