Why Application Performance Management Can Reduce Problem Order Fallout

January 29, 2011 by  Filed under: Management 

Order fallout is a concern for any company, but especially for competitive telecommunications companies. Customers have other options to turn to, so an order or inquiry process that stalls or requires wait times that customer’s perceive as too slow, can lead to loss of business. Preventing this type of problem not only saves a business money, it prevents customer attrition – the loss of paying customers.

Application Performance Management Addresses Customer Service

Any company that has vision of growing the business knows how important responsive customer service is to attaining that goal. Not only must the telecommunication’s business supply the most advanced services competitively, it cannot forget the customer in the process.

When a telecommunications provider is reviewing their web server logs they may find that lots of customers selected additional services during the order process. The additional services made it into the customer’s shopping basket. However, for some reason, these services were never purchased. This is referred to as order fallout. This often happens when a telecommunications firm is promoting an upgrade–such as from double play to triple play. The challenge for the telecommunications firm is to find out why this happens and fix it. This is lost top-line revenue and failure to fulfill the order could perhaps even become the first step towards losing a customer to the competition.

What too many telecommunications service provides may not realize is that when problems reach the stage where they are impacting customers, this is evidence that quality of service was already failing before the service desk began receiving calls. No company can afford to have their customers serve as their warning system.

Why isn’t existing application monitoring working?

Unfortunately, a telecommunication system may have applications in place to monitor its Windows and/or UNIX-based IT infrastructure which are ineffective at monitoring the entire system. Individual applications monitor their separate applications, yet fail to provide an accurate picture of the health of the entire enterprise. The result is sub-optimal performance that reaches the customer. As a result, there might be serious performance issues during the time a customer is considering purchasing a service upgrade. These issues often cause a customer to abandon their order, fearing the upgrade will not deliver the promised benefits. A monitoring solution that provides end-to-end visibility across the entire enterprise is needed.

How does application performance management address customer service issues?

Application performance management (APM) software addresses customer service issues by identifying sub-optimal performance at every level of the business from ERP, CRM, Billing, IVR, Provisioning, and other business and IT transactions to website customer interactions. It can do this because APM addresses all of the separate layers found in today’s typical IT configurations simultaneously. This is essential for preventing cascading failures and customer impacting performance issues.

Application performance management (APM) monitors the information layer. This is the layer that interacts with the customer. In this layer orders are placed, product offerings are updated, customers are notified, and delivery of service is arranged and then completed. This layer is directly dependent upon the layers beneath it. The application layer (Java,.NET composite applications; SAP, Oracle, Exchange and other packaged applications; COBOL and legacy applications) enable the customer service process. The Message-Oriented Middleware or cloud-based PaaS application infrastructure layer (Web services, application servers, transaction middleware, database management systems, portals) enables communication between the application layer components. Then the system infrastructure or cloud-based IaaS layer (servers, storage, network, databases, desktops and clients) supports everything above.

If there is a problem at any one of these levels, it can cascade straight up to the top level–the customer. Instead of the IT infrastructure building the telecommunication system, it tears it down. This doesn’t have to be. Investing in an application performance management solution can turn IT into one of the most important growth supporters in a telecommunications business.

Where does application performance management begin?

Application performance management (APM) begins by monitoring the availability and performance of every application and business transaction. This generates vast amounts of data. To make this data meaningful, the data records must track transactions in real time across all the IT layers. It must be sorted and rendered into reports that convey information in a meaningful way.

Complex event processing (CEP) engines make it possible to accomplish this task. CEP enables application performance management by monitoring the availability and performance of all the applications and business transactions. Yet, complex event processing can do more than this. It can provide proactive problem detection, automated discovery and alerting. This means that customers aren’t the first warning that a problem has occurred, the APM solution is.

What benefits occur after installing an application performance management solution?

Companies that have installed application performance management solutions have experienced the following benefits.

  • Ability to expand business. When a telecommunications company stops putting out the fires of costly SLA violations tied to ERP, CRM, billing, IVR and satellite provisioning applications, it can focus on customer-centric services. One DTH provider reports that once it was able to ensure its ability to handle online and batch business transactions, Java and.NET Method, database calls and payload contents, it was able to expand its services to include triple play services.
  • Reduced problem order fallout. Before putting APM in place, one technology company reports that they were losing one quarter of their online customer service orders either because they were lost, stalled or inaccurate. This number fell significantly once the company gained a firmer grasp on what was causing these issues. More customers were choosing the company’s package, increasing income flow.
  • Reduced mean-time-to-repair (MTTR). Instead of spending days locating a problem, problems that do arise take minutes to resolve. Turning to a single dynamic dashboard where all servers, middleware, commercial application and transactions are visible eliminates the guesswork as to what is causing the failure or bottleneck.
  • Reduced mean-time-to-know (MTTK). With predictive capabilities, complex event processing shortens the time between problem development and problem reporting. Now instead of a problem being identified after it has reached the customer, it is detected after the first abnormal transaction occurs. The IT team can take control of the problem before it has a chance to cascade into a mission impacting event. Say goodbye to most mission critical events.
  • Reduced overall support costs. Some telecommunication companies have reported a 70% reduction in their Tier 3 support requests after implementing application performance software.

Application performance management is a tool that no technology company with a vision to expansion can overlook. It integrates telecommunications business goals with IT functions, so the two are more than aligned. They are merged into a common purpose. Growing the business.

Denise Rutledge has been researching the topic of application performance management (APM) and complex event processing (CEP) since 2009. In the course of her research she discovered a smaller APM provider, Nastel Technologies. The company’s AutoPilot software line has been using CEP for over 10 years to deliver business transaction performance (BTP) solutions. Growth into APM was natural. Forrester Research recognizes AutoPilot as one of the most successful integrations of CEP and application performance management in the market.

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Denise Rutledge - EzineArticles Expert Author

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