Q&A Part One: Chris Dancy of BMC Talks About APM and User Experience
February 28, 2013

Some people call him the Social Media Guy. Some people call him a Futurist. Chris Dancy simply describes himself as a person who does not know any other world than IT.

APMdigest readers might be familiar with Chris Dancy's involvement in Servicesphere or the ITSM Weekly podcast, syndicated to 30,000 listeners monthly, but they might not realize that last summer he took on the new role of Director, Office of the CTO at BMC Software.

In Part One of APMdigest's exclusive interview, BMC's Chris Dancy talks about APM and user experience. You may not agree with, or even relate to, everything he says, but his perspective is unique and interesting, and he may just make you think about some aspects of APM or IT in ways you had not considered before.

APM: What will you be doing in your new role at BMC?

CD: I have a variety of roles. I spend a lot of time working with communications and our marketing teams. From the product side, I work with BMC MyIT in a limited capacity. I try to fill the void of what it should look like in three years. And that is really bold. You cannot safely say what things should look like and work like in one year. But I have been pretty accurate over the last two years of saying what is going to happen tomorrow. But that is not because I'm super smart. I super pay attention. You just have to connect enough weird dots.

APM: What are the main lessons learned for APM, and IT in general, in 2012, from your perspective?

CD: When it comes to Application Performance Management, my view is that applications need to perform for their designed outcome. What was unique about 2012, I think a lot of people were starting to look at the question of what products are – because we iterate and create and then iterate again, and let the market decide. Application Performance Management is difficult because we are constantly changing what applications are, which changes how we expect them to perform.

So if there's anything we should take away from 2012, it is the way that we think about designing applications in consumer facing ways. Maybe we need to look at the performance measurements in a new light. I often say for the service desk and enterprise software related to IT operations, it looks to me like we are on a starship with a wooden ruler. We are flying at warp speed, and we have a 12 inch wooden ruler.

Today we can't really apply the same metrics, at least from an IT operations standpoint – uptime, downtime, that type of stuff – because in the social network, Facebook never goes down. Performance management is really difficult to get your head around if something never goes down. Then it becomes experience management. Experience management is buzzy, like culture. It is unrealistic because it is as fluid as DNA and humanity.

APM: Are you saying you see challenges with analyzing the user experience?

CD: Right now it is really hard to get the user experience. You have to capture a lot of data. I think the problem with performance management, it is a moving target because people pervert applications to fit their lifestyle. They develop a relationship with the applications that is unique and not like the applications were designed for.

You don't know that a photograph or an upload speed or a cached version of something is more important to this person or that person, because they're using the same application in two different ways. To measure those things we actually need more sensors and more context awareness. More connectivity to other open systems would give context to why I'm using an application in the way I am using it.

We need bigger understanding of our relationship with technology at a human level, both a human chemical level and a human level from an anthropological sampling. How is technology changing us? If we are changing the rules to fit our needs, how do we measure someone who's going to constantly change? How do you measure a painting that someone is constantly adding to and taking away from without you knowing it? I think these are really big questions for 2013. Very daunting pressing problems.

APM: Do you think can you do that through technology? To actually be able to understand someone's motivations behind what they are trying to achieve with the technology?

CD: I completely think you could do this with technology. I wear three sensors during the day and five at night. I think there are ways that technology can help us help it.

Look at what we do now with application performance. If something crashes, would you like to send a report? That is so rudimentary. I would look at what the user did after it crashed. Did they go to the app store? Did they go to the web version of the app? I do think technology can answer these questions. It is going to keep learning from us.

Read Q&A Part Two: Chris Dancy of BMC Talks About Social Media

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