The secret to IT user satisfaction

By: Arthur Cole


Of all the responsibilities placed on IT over the years, user satisfaction has never been a top priority. Of course, people have always wanted advanced services and rapid turnaround, but if the end result did not live up to expectations — well, those are the limitations of infrastructure.

What a difference a few years have made. These days, users are in the driver’s seat. If they cannot get what they want from IT, they will simply go elsewhere.

More applications means more support

This puts functions such as application performance management (APM) and predictive troubleshooting at the forefront of IT’s agenda. The name of the game going forward will not be to simply identify and correct trouble spots, but to defuse them before the user even notices there is a problem, and to do it seamlessly without sacrificing performance.

What’s surprising, though, is how much of the enterprise industry still lags when it comes to fairly established technologies like APM. According to a recent survey by ManageEngine, nearly one-third of businesses rely on user reports to identify application performance issues, while another 28 percent utilize ad hoc scripts in about half their application libraries. This is despite the fact that more than 80 percent of organizations report that issue resolution and even outright application recovery can take upwards of four hours to complete.

Clearly, there is a need for a coordinated APM stack at many enterprises, particularly as more and more of the workload transitions to mobile devices and employees leverage corporate apps to do their jobs. Fortunately, the field of application performance management is moving forward on a number of fronts that will make it both easier to deploy apps and produce a higher level of user satisfaction, according to Priyanka Tiwari of SmartBear.

How to boost user satisfaction

Key upgrades to look forward to include new device mesh platforms that provide seamless monitoring across multiple user devices and more intelligent tools that collect data from multiple points and correlate the results to identify issues that would elude single-system monitoring stacks. Additionally, organizations are starting to embrace the concept of continuous deployment and continuous integration, which seeks to improve performance even after the app has entered production environments.

Evaluating these new capabilities will not be an easy job, particularly since not all applications will require the same level of TLC. But as IT consultant Jane Clabby noted in Computerworld recently, identifying just a few key metrics can go a long way toward making the right decisions. These include a clear assessment of the problems you are trying to solve and the limitations of existing solutions.

Platforms should be tailored to their respective application environments as well as the specific application type, such as mobile or Web-facing apps and transactional services. At the end of the day, however, success is determined by user satisfaction. That can be assessed most directly by the amount of churn the app experiences, employee feedback and more.

The need for a flexible solution

It is important to remember that as the application environment becomes more flexible and distributed, so must the management solution, according to a TechTarget guide to APM. The application stack should work hand in hand with network monitoring, and they should both match each other in complexity.

The enterprise needs to approach application management and user satisfaction proactively. The application environment will grow and change as technology and business models evolve, so the APM stack must be regularly upgraded to reflect new performance requirements.

While not every enterprise has the in-house skills and resources necessary to meet this demand, there are opportunities for outsourced IT support. A third-party services provider can free up time and resources so corporate workers can focus on improving the user experience.

The days of static infrastructure are quickly coming to a close, and the enterprise needs to adopt a more dynamic approach to ensure the highest level of user satisfaction possible, regardless of whether the user is a customer or an employee.


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About The Author

Arthur Cole

Freelance Writer

With more than 20 years of experience in technology journalism, Arthur has written on the rise of everything from the first digital video editing platforms to virtualization, advanced cloud architectures and the Internet of Things. He is a regular contributor to IT Business Edge and Enterprise Networking Planet and provides blog posts and other web... Read more