From the earliest days of the modern computing era, IT and business leaders understood that once you deployed technology to run an important part of the business, you needed some way of monitoring and managing that technology.
There’s been a robust market for monitoring solutions ever since.
As the technology stack became more complex and as organizations deployed technology in ever-more critical functions, the relative importance of monitoring solutions continued to rise. It was a simple equation: new technologies begat new monitoring solutions.
More recently, however, there has been a shift in this dynamic.
As digital transformation has taken root across the enterprise landscape, organizations are realizing that merely monitoring infrastructure and applications is not enough as they seek to enhance the customer experience and create organizational agility across every dimension of their now-critical technology stack.
The traditional application and infrastructure monitoring sectors have largely responded by rebranding themselves as performance management. But a few companies are not satisfied with just a rebrand and are instead on a mission to fundamentally redefine the monitoring business altogether.
Dynatrace, for instance, has recently announced things like new log analytics capabilities and new session replay functionality (via its Qumram acquisition) and has continued to move customers to its new Artificial Intelligence-powered platform — all signs that make it clear that the company wants its customers to see it as more than just a provider of monitoring solutions.
This is an ambition, however, that competitors as varied as AppDynamics, CA and many others share. As these market sectors converge, the question will be which companies, solutions or approaches best help the enterprise manage the complexity and shift their focus toward the customer.
While the current focus for these companies remains staunchly centered on IT and the enterprise support function, they are telegraphing signs that the future of the sector lies in the broader support of the customer experience and serving use cases outside of IT.
The same forces driving organizations towards digital transformation make these ambitions unsurprising as the industry attempts to both keep pace with changing enterprise needs and step into an emerging market gap.
As the enterprise technology stack grows in complexity, enterprises are rapidly recognizing that independently monitoring its various elements is not only inefficient but leaves them vulnerable to missed signals and failed coordination. The risk posed by siloed monitoring solutions becomes particularly acute as enterprises adopt hybrid IT architectures that span legacy on-premises, private cloud, and public cloud deployments. As a result, organizations are now looking for solutions that enable them to monitor and manage their complex stack holistically.
This gap is creating a vacuum that a wide range of companies are rushing to fill.
Optimizing the customer experience
An essential part of the enterprise reorientation, and a central component of the digital transformation story, is the rising importance of the customer experience. The progressive players in the industry are betting, therefore, that enterprises will look for solutions that offer them the ability to monitor this experience and do so in the context of the complete technology stack that supports it.
Each technology provider is approaching this differently, but they are all placing bets that the future lies in a monitoring approach that transcends the stack.
AppDynamics, for instance, offers what it calls Business iQ which creates automatic correlations between application performance, the user experience, and business outcomes. CA, on the other hand, has adopted an approach centered on helping the enterprise become what it calls modern software factories — with a central focus on the customer experience.
Taking a different tack, Dynatrace recently introduced its new session replay functionality, which enables enterprises to record user sessions at the point of engagement, observe the customer interaction, and identify elements which may negatively impact the experience or troubleshoot a past negative experience.
While many of these technologies and approaches have existed independently for some time, the ability to directly use them with traditional monitoring and management modalities helps enterprises shift to this customer-centric orientation.
Getting the balance right
The transformation of the enterprise has left the IT function between the proverbial rock and a hard spot.
On the one hand, the enterprise center-of-gravity has shifted away from an operations-centric orientation that favored optimization and efficiency to a customer-centric one that favors customer experience and omnichannel management. This shift has changed enterprise investment priorities and changed the value equation for the IT function.
On the other hand, responding to these new customer-centric needs has resulted in an exponentially more complex environment that is consequently more difficult to even understand, let alone monitor and manage.
Enterprise IT and business leaders are, therefore, looking for technology solutions that help them simultaneously meet both needs — to transform and reorient the organization’s operating model around the customer experience, while being able to manage the complexity that such an orientation creates. It’s a tall order, indeed.
This is the ground that many traditional and non-traditional monitoring vendors intend to plant their flags. It’s the right bet to make and the right time to make it. But the convergence that it represents will make this a particularly contentious time as these companies seek to find ground that they can call their own.
They will need to find a way to balance between the need to focus on the customer experience with the need to help the enterprise manage this growing complexity. The spoils will go to those who can get this balance between these seemingly competing needs right.
[Disclosure: AppDynamics and CA are Intellyx customers.]