Poorly performing applications can also lead to reduced application adoption among employees and supply chain partners, putting expensive supply chain investments at risk. If application end-users (i.e. those in remote offices) find that applications are unreliable, slow or otherwise difficult to use, the cost in terms of lost productivity can be high. According to the Supply Chain Resilience 2011 study conducted by Zurich Financial Services Group and The Business Continuity Institute, loss of worker productivity was the most cited negative consequence of an IT-related supply chain disruption. Organizations that are unable to ensure that core applications perform well and have high reliability across all of their business locations will likely incur the costs and frustrations that occur when workers can't satisfactorily use business critical applications.
Identify the source of poorly-performing supply chain applications
Nowadays, it’s harder than ever to ensure high-performing supply chain applications, due largely to the increasing complexity of the application delivery chain. In other words, today’s supply chain applications are delivered through a combination of hardware, software and services that must work together without fail. The growing use of multi-tier architectures, virtualization and other new technologies in the data center makes it increasingly challenging for IT to ensure optimal application reliability and speed. And businesses can fall prey to a “reactionary” mode, with end users reporting application performance problems. And without the right applications in place to mitigate and streamline the process effectively, IT cannot quickly identify and isolate performance issues as they happen, and in turn, struggles to minimize the impact on the business which can be huge.
The ‘retail’ approach to supply chain application performance
Given the increasing complexity of today’s data centers, it’s no longer sufficient to look at one or several IT components—including servers, networking gear and other infrastructure elements—and conclude that supply chain applications perform well. To satisfy all end-user constituencies, IT needs to establish robust and broad application transaction performance monitoring for all applications and end users. The ideal solution will enable IT to:
- Ensure production applications work across all users, browsers, devices, geographies, networks and application infrastructures
- Proactively monitor all application services, 24x7, with a real-time view into the end-user experience to detect issues before they impact the business
- Isolate the origin of an incident within the complexity of today’s data centers instantaneously, in order to reduce the mean time to resolve problems
- Understand the business impact of performance problems so IT can prioritize resolution effectively
- Conduct advanced analytics in order to identify performance baselines and trends and continually refine the performance of applications based in multi-tier, multi-vendor data centers.
The ideal solution will lead to stronger application performance as measured by increased application usage and transaction completion rates. By monitoring and optimizing the true end-user perspective, retailers can ultimately ensure better supply chain and business performance and enhanced return on their supply chain investments.
Kieran Taylor is the Director of APM Marketing for Compuware’s APM Business Unit.