Using APM to address shadow IT
Why bring application performance management to shadow IT? How is this possible with so many “off the grid” apps being used in silos across the enterprise? Shadow IT is a force to be reckoned with. The temptation is great to ban unilaterally approved (or even unapproved) apps and devices. These things are nevertheless a fact of life in corporate settings. Over the past 4 or 5 years, the cloud has come of age in enterprise usage. Business-critical applications like CRM are now being used as a service in the cloud. However, the decision to implement them may not stem from IT management.
Managing performance and Shadow IT
The decision power of CIOs over technology budgets has been eroding over recent years. Business managers now decide on their own IT. First of all, this trend heightens the traditional divide between IT and business priorities. It also suggests that CIOs could use a bit of help to exert IT expertise and good practices on the technology that lies outside their direct control. Even better, to prove the value of enterprise IT and tech teams to business.
To do so, the same APM tools that IT departments have been using to ensure good user experience on approved organization-wide technology also can be used to check up on shadow IT. There are a number of situations where application performance monitoring can consolidate the link between IT quality and business success.
It is important to seize opportunities for demonstrating and reinforcing the ties between application performance and business performance. Upgrades or changes to enterprise applications, for instance, are good occasions for doing so. With before-and-after measurements you can demonstrate the correlation between the new version, improved performance, and better business results. For this you need to assess IT performance not only by measuring the results of the upgrade, but also by correlating those results with business metrics. These data should be reported clearly and visually to business management. Typically users will complain if performance is not good. Rarely will you be congratulated for improvements. This is the purpose of measuring.
What about customer experience and Shadow IT?
Be sure to devote attention to customer experience. A surprisingly high percentage of CIOs is unaware of how great an impact their IT organization can have on improving customer experience. IT managers can gain awareness and make the business aware, too, by starting with IT teams. Measure IT-related quality of experience over time, and chart your results. This is how you can build trust by demonstrating to business managers the good work you’re doing. Next, with business teams, agree on common KPIs so you can team up on action plans and possibly budgets on specific projects. You can measure the service provided to customers, and generate reports showing results by number of connections, location, connection response times, or other criteria. These measurements can be proactively communicated to customers or end users to demonstrate the quality of service provided.
How can application performance be managed for Shadow IT?
Tech staffers have limited power to intervene directly in line of business stealth applications. Nevertheless, even in cases where they can’t take direct action to optimize the performance of shadow IT apps, they can still establish a basis for evaluating whether stealth apps deliver on their promises of greater efficiency. For instance, with APM tools, they can track the performance and reliability of shadow IT applications and services. The resulting measurements can be correlated with business metrics to provide the true picture of how well stealth IT actually serves the business. CIOs may want to benchmark silo apps and services against the levels of service provided by organization-wide apps and services. This will show how well stealth IT stacks up against enterprise IT.
Changes may be in store on both sides of the IT divide. The right APM tools and metrics can inform the decisions that will have to be made – by CIOs and/or by business managers – on a factual basis, incorporating business KPIs and technical-side data. In conclusion, application performance management can actually help bring IT and business into sync.