Why is Full-Stack Observability a Must?

Why is Full-Stack Observability a Must

Digital experience has become a critical management reporting component to drive decision-making. Being under the watchful eye of the board places immense expectations on IT teams. To overcome the challenges, IT teams need full-stack observability.

As the pace of business accelerates, adaptability, time to market, and innovation have become make or break factors for the modern enterprise. Each of these abilities is driven by a critical function — regular and accurate management reporting.

To track progress against commercial and operational goals, and to make smarter, strategic decisions in ever-shrinking windows, senior leaders need clear insight into business performance. From finance and R&D through to sales and marketing, management reports are the platform for C-level executives to drive growth and establish good governance.

Though the accelerated pace may be a more recent requirement, the elements that combine to create robust management reports have changed little over recent years. But now there is a new, critical component to management reporting, and a new agenda item within many board meetings — and that’s digital experience.

For many businesses today, digital channels are the be-all and end-all when it comes to customer and employee engagement. With applications in many cases becoming the primary touchpoints, experience has become a mission-critical priority for businesses, and for boards and senior leadership teams. This explains why, according to research conducted by Cisco, the performance of business-critical applications and digital services, and their impact on the business, is now reported to C-level executives on a consistent basis in as many as 80% of global organisations. And why application performance is now being discussed in board meetings within 50% of companies.

Insight into experience now a C-Suite requirement

Being at the helm of their organisation as they navigate the challenges of standing out in the digital-driven marketplace, C-level executives are keeping close tabs on digital experiences. Tellingly, three quarters (75%) of senior global business leaders report that this has become a significantly more critical issue for the C-suite in their organisation over the last three years. And as a result, leaders are asking IT teams for greater visibility and insight into application performance on a consistent basis.

Because such insights determine areas of focus, investment and innovation, C-level executives are actively looking to understand and monitor the experience that customers and employees are receiving when engaging with their brand through digital channels. And crucially, they want to be able to identify and address the biggest potential threats to end user experience in order to mitigate risk.

Such insights must span the entire customer journey. For example, a retail organisation’s board would need to be able to analyse everything from registration and log-in, through to search and check-out. Such an examination and assessment of the entire workflow would help uncover potential areas where improvements could have the most pronounced impact on revenue and profit.

IT’s increasingly complex quest to deliver seamless experiences

Being under the watchful eye of the board places immense expectations and pressure on IT teams that have already been facing an uphill battle against the complexity resulting from frantically-paced innovation programs. With organisations dramatically ramping up their use of cloud native technologies in recent years, many technologists are now suffering from a lack of visibility, particularly when it comes to Kubernetes environments running in public clouds. These highly distributed systems rely on thousands of containers which are spawning huge volumes of metrics, events, logs, and traces (MELT) data every second.

Unfortunately, many IT teams don’t have the right tools to cut through this overwhelming data noise. They’re still relying on multiple monitoring tools across their application landscape, and so they can’t generate a unified view of availability, performance, and security issues to understand dependencies and root causes and deliver quick fixes. This is particularly the case within hybrid application environments, where components are running across both cloud native and on-premises technologies. Consequently, the likelihood of organisations suffering application disruption and downtime is growing, and with this, the potential for reputational and revenue impact.

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Observability, the answer to empowering IT teams to optimise experience

To overcome the aforementioned challenges, IT teams need full-stack observability. This provides expanded visibility into cloud native environments and a unified view of the entire application landscape and underlying infrastructure. It replaces the complexity and gaps of separate, siloed monitoring tools, with a single source of truth for all application availability, performance, and security data. This unified visibility and insight are crucial for technologists to cut through complexity and manage high volumes of data.

To stop here, however, would be to fall short of the mark. If IT teams hope to deliver insight into application experiences in the context that business leaders now demand, they need to ensure their observability solution can correlate application data with real-time business metrics. This will enable them to identify and prioritise issues and threats based on potential impact to end user experience. And of course, they can report to C-level executives on the value that the delivery of exceptional and seamless digital experiences is delivering to overall business performance.

It is encouraging to see the growing level of maturity in IT impact measurement. CIOs and their teams are increasingly reporting to C-level executives on a wide and expanding set of metrics around experience — everything from number of unique sessions, average revenue per session and average revenue per transaction, through to ‘revenue at risk’ from potential outages, and overall user experience (based on defined workflows).

As the impact of digital experiences plays a prominent role in customer perceptions, the demand for such analysis from the C-suite is only set to increase. Technologists need to act now.

They must invest to ensure they have the tools and insights to provide detailed management reporting into application performance. This means focusing on full-stack observability, which will enable them to generate business context on their application performance data and prioritise actions and investment based on business outcomes. In doing so, they can demonstrate the tremendous value that applications (and they themselves) are delivering to their organisations.