How to Overcome Challenges of Monitoring Digital User Experiences

eWEEK PRODUCT ANALYSIS: How Catchpoint simplifies the process of understanding true user experience.

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Gone are the days when all applications and systems were centralized in data centers and IT departments had direct power over the user experience. Cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS) changed all that, giving companies a cost-effective alternative to running apps in-house.

What many infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders didn’t see coming is the lack of control and visibility this would create. Given the intense focus on customer and user experience, understanding the performance of cloud-based digital apps is now business-critical, but doing so is not simple.

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SaaS Creates User Experience Monitoring Blind Spots

SaaS apps and services are hosted in the cloud by third-party providers and delivered over the internet, which is creating blind spots for IT. Companies are struggling to analyze what’s happening in their digital environments: What are users (employees and customers) experiencing? Are services always available and reliable in all locations? Are employees being productive by accessing the apps and systems they need?

A digital user experience refers to the interaction between a company and an end user. Examples include making a purchase, sending an email, using a SaaS app, joining a web conference, accessing a customer relationship management (CRM) tool or submitting an expense report.

Poor User Experience Costs Companies Money

Research shows that poor user experience can negatively impact the bottom line. According to one forecast from Gartner, 60% of digital business initiatives will require I&O leaders to report on users’ experience by 2023. The problem is, traditional network monitoring tools aimed at legacy data centers are not effective when it comes to addressing complex digital user experience challenges, such as:

  • Companies respond to problems only when users report them.
  • They spend too much time validating user complaints of problems.
  • They waste resources on false positives, resulting in poor data accuracy.
  • They lack perception of service by customers and employees.
  • They have limited ability to verify and enforce service-level agreements (SLAs).
  • Finger pointing between teams causes delays in resolving problems.

Legacy Monitoring Solutions Won’t Cut It

Most existing hardware-based infrastructure monitoring (ITIM), application performance monitoring (APM), and network performance monitoring and diagnostics (NPMD) tools require on-premises management, but they’re expensive to deploy. Also, legacy tools aren’t designed for monitoring SaaS apps and services hosted in multiple public clouds.

Today’s companies require advanced tools to regain control over their digital infrastructure, apps and, above all, users. Monitoring the digital user experience should be approached from a prevention perspective, as opposed to merely reacting to issues that have already occurred.

Catchpoint Monitors User Experience in Real Time

With that reality in mind, Catchpoint came up with a single, user-centric platform that combines L3 and L7 synthetic monitoring, network monitoring, real user monitoring and endpoint monitoring. Companies use it to observe, analyze and troubleshoot the performance of all digital services and end users from multiple locations.

The platform actively and passively monitors every employee's SaaS application interaction. The gathered data can then be used to create alerts about current and potential disruptions. The synthetic monitoring feature is also useful to many companies, because it can simulate user workflows and pinpoint performance issues before they happen.

The combination of endpoint monitoring—which grants visibility from the devices themselves—and synthetic monitoring—which uses on-premises nodes combined with Catchpoint’s global node network—is what allows IT teams to proactively monitor SaaS apps and related performance problems. This way, IT can either resolve issues locally or work with SaaS providers to restore services.  

Catchpoint’s platform is the modern machine learning-based approach to digital experience monitoring. It utilizes predictive analysis, trend analysis, pattern matching and data visualizations to help companies understand the digital experience from their users’ perspective. Most importantly, companies can predict potential problems before they can impact the user experience. That’s how they gain back control.

Zeus Kerravala is a regular eWEEK contributor and the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. He spent 10 years at Yankee Group and prior to that held a number of corporate IT positions.