"A chain is no stronger than its weakest link." — William James
Companies have traditionally monitored their IT infrastructure's components in isolation — servers, storage, SAN, and applications. Sometimes, they have even divided the pie further, looking at technology brands separately. Taking a piecemeal approach to managing IT infrastructure is like inspecting individual links in a chain and not realizing one is missing. Without it, the chain cannot perform its job.
Today, however, there is an increasing recognition of the interconnected nature of the information technology environment. Also, user expectations and IT complexity are rising. As a result, IT infrastructure performance management (IPM) is becoming more popular. Companies practicing IPM are realizing the benefits it delivers to the bottom line. They include the ability to:
1. Satisfy Customers
Many of today's applications serve up responses instantaneously whenever and wherever users may be. As a result, customers' expectations have risen. Instant gratification has become the name of the game, and seconds count. Take web pages, for example. People will hang around for a mere two seconds for a web page to load. After that, every second of delay results in seven percent fewer conversions (Thomas Fisher: Embracing a New Generation of APM Strategies).
In a world where impatience rules, companies that cater to it can gain competitive advantage. On the flip side, those that ignore it will likely lose market share.
A sound IT infrastructure can help those listening to the voice of the customer. It allows them to deliver responsive websites and applications, and thus achieve top goals for digital initiatives — improving the customer experience, acquiring new customers, and increasing customer engagement and loyalty. (IDG Strategic Marketing Services, Hybrid Cloud Computing; The Great Enabler of Digital Business.)
2. Protect Brand Reputation
Twitter, Microsoft, Apple, Salesforce, PayPal and Delta. What do these brands have in common? This year, they all suffered outages.
Many of us remember the chaotic images surrounding Delta's downtime. With more than 800 flight cancellations, passengers were stranded, and check-in lines snaked through airports around the world. While such visual mayhem is particularly devastating, no brand can afford to gamble with the aftermaths of an event that leaves them powerless to serve their customers.
3. Raise Productivity and Revenues
People are both expensive and essential to revenue generation. Because of this, companies need tools that empower them to be as productive as possible. Bear in mind that even a one percent increase in the output of 100 employees is equivalent to the results you could achieve by hiring one new full-time employee.
4. Lower IT Costs
Despite the opportunities that technology offers to increase productivity and create revenue generating apps, IT budgets remain stagnant. Gartner expects worldwide IT spending to decline by 0.3 percent this year.
With budget constraints tightening, the age of over-provisioning to meet user demands is on its way out. To lower costs, IT leaders must now explore opportunities for server and storage consolidation, data center and cloud migration, and increased utilization.
5. Better Plan Mergers and Acquisitions
Mergers and acquisitions raise concerns about whether a company has the IT capacity to absorb the new organization's technology workloads, whether new assets are required, and how best to consolidate technology.
To answer these questions, you need visibility to a detailed history of your IT infrastructure metrics and those of the other organization. Also, you need an easy way to group assets you plan to absorb or divest, so you can analyze their requirements and answer "What if?" questions. Such an analysis enables you to determine the technology you need to buy or sell.
6. Increase Stock Value
Because IPM improves customer experiences, enhances brand reputations, increases productivity and revenues, lowers costs, and enables better IT planning for mergers and acquisitions, it has the power to fatten up bottom lines. And that's a recipe for increasing stock values.
Given these benefits, it's time to focus on managing your IT infrastructure's performance. This practice will enable you to optimize data centers to meet the digital needs of customers and employees while maximizing your ROI on technology.
Tim Conley is Co-Founder and Principal of Galileo Performance Explorer.
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