What is end user experience monitoring?
End user experience monitoring is a mindset and a philosophy. It’s the acknowledgement that IT is not the outcome, but rather a means to an end.
Think of it this way: IT is here to support business operations. It does so by delivering technology to the tech-dependent workforce so employees can do their jobs seamlessly. Therefore, the most important thing to monitor in the IT ecosystem has shifted. It’s not the network, the device, or the cloud – these are only delivery mechanisms.
To ensure that IT meets business requirements, the one thing that matters is that employees, the end users of these technologies, can interact with their applications.
Why is focusing on the end user essential for the modern digital enterprise?
End user experience starts with the user journey, and that’s important because the way employees use technology constantly evolves.
When I started my first job in London as a software developer, I used to go to the office, log into my desktop, and use a limited set of applications to do my job during set working hours. Now, I use my smartphone and laptop. I get online from any location – at home, on the train, in the office – and I can work whenever I need to. This flexibility is only possible because end user experience monitoring focuses on my needs to ensure constant access to my data and my multitude of SaaS applications from anywhere, at any time, on any device.
End user experience monitoring looks at every event in our user journey. It examines everything that could affect the way we interact with our applications. It should be technology agnostic. In other words, it doesn’t matter whether we are checking our emails on our laptops or on our phones. What matters is that we can access our emails whenever we need to, wherever we are.
The insights received by observing the digital experience from the end user point of view are then used by the End User Services team to deliver, support, and optimize the technology we rely on to do our jobs in this new world of working from anywhere.
How is end user experience monitoring different from other monitoring approaches, such as application or network performance monitoring?
Traditionally, IT has monitored individual system components. It started with the network (network performance monitoring), then data center servers (IT infrastructure monitoring), and application code (application performance monitoring). Most recently, device performance monitoring emerged as the industry came to realise that these endpoints were in fact the closest we could get to actual users. This approach tends to create false positives, however; for instance, it’s not because the CPU of a machine is at 95 percent that the user is impacted.
More importantly, using component-specific solutions created a fragmented visibility environment that still exists today for many businesses. All too often, monitoring indicators are all green across individual technology layers, yet users are still complaining that the combination of all these layers together is not usable.
This is why IT had to reinvent the way it delivered the end user experience. What was required was a solution that would aggregate and measure the impact of all the underlying IT components on end users. In other words, let’s see if the users are impacted before we dive deeper into the technology. End user experience monitoring was born.
What are the different elements of end user experience monitoring?
There are three critical components to a successful end user experience monitoring strategy:
- No blind spots.
- An aggregate view.
- Engaging with end users.
Let’s take a deeper look at each of these.
1. No blind spots.
Here’s the thing: IT components are constantly evolving. The Internet is making rapid progress at replacing the corporate network, while data centers and applications are moving to the cloud. Even devices are following this transformation with Desktop-as-a-Service.
This next-generation IT infrastructure has created more blind spots in monitoring strategies than holes in a Swiss cheese (and coming from a Frenchman, that means a lot!). If you want to accurately gauge end user impact, it is critical for a suitable end user experience monitoring solution to have complete visibility across the entire digital infrastructure, whether it is in the control of enterprise IT (such as the corporate network) or not (internet, SaaS, cloud…).
2. An aggregate view.
Not only is it important to start with the user journey, but you need to be able to see and measure the total aggregate impact of all components on the end user experience.
3. Engage with end users.
For companies shifting from an IT-centric view of the end user experience, one piece of the puzzle is often still missing, and it is probably the most important one: How do end users feel about their experience?
Are end users happy with their laptops? Is the new application easier to use than the old one? Is there anything that IT could do to make the user’s life better?
There is only one way to find out: we need to ask them. Engaging with end users and collecting their sentiments has become more critical than ever in a hybrid workplace where we interact on screens as opposed to in person.
Are there additional capabilities that a comprehensive end user experience monitoring solution encompasses?
The holy grail of End User Services is to detect and remediate a problem before it impacts users. For that, end user experience monitoring strategies need to include the following capabilities:
- Active observability. This regularly tests whether critical IT services are available and reachable, even when the users are not using these services. Therefore, as soon as an issue is detected, IT can proactively and preemptively fix it, minimizing business disruption. No end user experience monitoring strategy can be proactive without active observability!
- Automated remediation. IT can use active monitoring to not only detect the abnormality, but then feed the information to a remediation engine that fixes it without the delay, risk, and cost of manual intervention. For these reasons, self-remediation is growing in popularity for everything that enterprise IT controls. However, it’s still challenging when it comes to the Internet or SaaS applications, unless service providers can look beyond their own infrastructure and monitor the outcome of their services: the user experience.
To deliver a reliable experience to your employees, wherever, whenever, and whatever they are working on, it is time you start looking beyond the device. Catchpoint is the only independent third-party observability platform that provides a unified view of end user experience from the endpoint, across the maze of the internet, all the way to third-party SaaS and cloud services.