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Unlocking Proactive IT Operations & Support: The Role of Business-Centric Observability

How IT Leaders Can Reduce Downtime, Enhance Customer Support, and Streamline Automation in IT Operations with Business-Centric Observability

IT leaders and IT operations teams face many challenges that impact the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations when relying on traditional observability methods. Embracing a Business-Centric Observability approach becomes imperative for them to overcome these challenges, ensuring a proactive, streamlined, and automated approach to incident management and support processes. In this blog post, intended as a compass for IT leaders seeking to navigate the complexities of modern business landscapes, we offer insights into how the adoption of business-centric observability can become a catalyst for change and redefine the future of IT operations. 

Challenges Faced by IT Leaders in Operation Centres

Challenge 1: Increasing Uptime to 24/7/365

Current observability tools struggle to meet business leaders’ rising expectations for uninterrupted service and higher SLAs from IT Operations teams, as well as superior customer experiences. They often lack real-time insights and proactive monitoring, leading to potential downtime and customer dissatisfaction. Additionally, these tools fail to correctly identify and prioritize efforts that directly impact customer experience as frontline support executives (L1 teams) struggle to prioritize events or notifications unless they grasp the underlying business impact. To address these challenges, businesses require observability solutions that bridge the gap between technical events and their broader business context, and seamlessly integrate with business objectives, thereby delivering the performance insights needed to uphold stringent SLAs and provide exceptional customer experiences in today’s digitally-driven marketplace.

With Business-Centric Observability

Business-centric Observability simplifies the correlation of technical and business-specific lead indicators, such as volumes, latencies, and error rates, with each step of a business journey. It also provides indicative signals on infrastructure elements, services, and API touchpoints. This streamlined process enables effortless identification of the exact cause of slowness or errors across the entire journey, thereby reducing resolution effort as well. 

Adopting a top-down approach, where customer experience signals map to technical performance signals, proves invaluable. By aligning technical metrics with business objectives, IT leaders can swiftly identify and address critical issues, fostering a more resilient and customer-centric digital ecosystem. This ability to swiftly detect and pinpoint problems within the context of the business journey represents a strategic shift that minimizes noise and accelerates incident detection, consequently reducing Mean Time to Detect (MTTD) and Mean Time to Resolve (MTTR) issues, ensuring maximized uptime and a more agile approach to maintaining system health and performance.

Challenge 2: Enhancing the Customer Support Function

Tracing business journeys for efficient customer support becomes a formidable task, as traditional observability struggles to provide a unified view that connects technical metrics with the user experience, particularly when journeys span silos, microservices and APIs. This disjointed approach hampers the ability to promptly identify and address issues affecting customers, thereby impacting customer satisfaction. 

With Business-Centric Observability

It becomes possible to map the entire business journey across diverse touchpoints to streamline customer service, dispute resolution, and incident investigation. Traceability equips you with the ability to effortlessly search for and pinpoint problematic business flows using criteria such as transaction IDs, merchant IDs, API names, or error codes. IT Operations teams can then isolate failure points, uncover root causes, and extract data for customer support or in-depth incident investigations.

Challenge 3: Driving Operational Efficiencies through Automation

Incident detection and resolution face hurdles due to the fragmented nature of data provided by traditional observability tools, where different teams have access to siloed information and are unaware of the correlation between technical and business metrics. 

With Business-Centric Observability

Business-centric observability brings in contextualization and enrichment of journeys with business metadata, which in turn allows automation systems to prioritize incidents based on their potential impact on the end-user experience and strategic business goals. These systems, empowered by early warnings (the early detection of anomalies or performance deviations), can proactively trigger incident detection protocols, addressing potential issues before they escalate. This proactive approach minimizes the impact on users and helps maintain a smoother operational environment. 

Further, a comprehensive view of the entire business journey aids in the automated identification of root causes for incidents. Automation tools can leverage this contextual information to conduct more sophisticated analyses, accelerating the process of pinpointing the exact source of issues. This, in turn, streamlines the resolution process by eliminating the need for manual intervention in root cause identification.

Business-centric observability also assists in crafting incident response workflows that are tailored to the specific needs of the business and its customers. Automation systems can be configured to follow these customized workflows, ensuring a more efficient and standardized approach to incident resolution. 

A Before/After View on the Role of Business-Centric Observability in IT Operations

 

Before Business-Centric Observability

After Business-Centric Observability

Adhering to Business SLAs 

IT Operations Managers primarily focused on metrics such as server response times, error rates, and infrastructure performance, which resulted in business SLAs occasionally not getting met due to a disconnect between technical and business metrics. 

With business-centric observability, the focus expands to include a broader set of metrics, correlating technical performance with user interactions and business outcomes. This ensures that business SLAs are always met and that customer experiences are at the heart of IT Operations.

Holistic Monitoring Across Silos

Monitoring focused on individual components rather than the entire journey.

Real-time performance monitoring for end-to-end business processes, including asynchronous transactions and those spanning multiple silos.

Reduction in MTTD

Reactive issue identification, often reliant on user reports and anomalies on technical metrics.        

Proactive identification of issues through real-time monitoring and journey-based insights.

Intelligent Root Cause Analysis

Time-consuming root cause analysis without a holistic view.            

Efficient root cause analysis with a contextual understanding of business journeys, helping to zero in on the exact touchpoint along the journey causing the issue. 

Optimized Incident Resolution

Issue resolution was often reactive, with IT Operations Managers addressing technical problems after they arose without a clear understanding of the broader business impact. Fragmented insights delayed incident responses.         

Business-centric observability enables proactive issue identification within the context of business journeys, allowing IT Operations Managers to respond swiftly and minimize business disruptions. Swift incident response is enabled by a unified view of application and business metrics.

Enhanced Customer Support via Real-time Operational Dashboards

Lack of visibility and traceability in customer transactions leads to less efficient customer support, where support personnel don’t have all data necessary to help them debug. Business leaders also depend on ITOM teams for insights and decision-making. 

Traceability and business metadata ensures that each micro-journey of the transaction can be searched and traced for better customer support. End-to-end visibility across silos allows drilldowns to help troubleshoot. Efficient real-time dashboards also mean that business, operations and development teams can collaborate better by sharing a view of the system, and one team is not excessively dependent on the others for timely decisions. 

Shaping the Future of IT Operations Management (ITOM)

Unified View for Incident Response via Transparency:

IT Operations Managers gain a unified view of incidents within the context of business journeys, enabling more efficient incident response and minimizing business impact. The resulting cross-functional operational dashboards power a shift from Network Operations Centres (NOCs) to Business Resiliency Operations Centres (BROCs), placing business performance and customer satisfaction at the heart of digital operations. Business Leaders can then take informed decisions and derive business insights to deliver value, without relying on IT Leaders to provide them with a high-level view or performance report of the system. 

Customer-Centric Approach to Service Delivery through Traceability:

IT Operations Managers adopt a customer-centric approach to service delivery, tracing journeys end-to-end based on business metrics and ensuring that technical operations directly contribute to a positive user experience. Customer support gets more streamlined due to this end-to-end traceability of business journeys. 

Proactive Risk Mitigation:

Business-centric observability contributes to proactive risk mitigation, allowing IT Operations Managers to identify potential issues before they escalate and disrupt business processes or impact customer experience.

Operational Excellence Through Continuous Improvement:

The integration of business-centric observability promotes a culture of continuous improvement in IT Operations Management, with teams actively using data-driven insights for ongoing optimization and efficiency gains.

Efficient Incident Management:

Incident management becomes more efficient as IT Operations Managers prioritize incidents based on their business impact, allowing teams to focus on issues that directly affect critical business processes.

IT Automation:

IT Operations Managers play a pivotal role in the strategic adoption of emerging technologies like AI/ML, particularly those that ensure that technological investments align with business goals and contribute to the organization’s competitiveness, ultimately leading to the application of ML techniques for automated issue resolution.

Conclusion 

In conclusion, the switch to business-centric observability can reshape the landscape of ITOM and chart a course towards a more efficient, customer-focused, and automated future. By harnessing the power of business context within user journeys, organizations are poised to redefine their ITOM strategies, transcending the limitations of traditional observability. The tangible benefits are profound: streamlined customer support that anticipates and addresses issues before they impact users, a drastic reduction in MTTD and MTTR, and the enablement of automation to swiftly identify and resolve incidents with an understanding of their business implications. 

To know how you can transition to ITOM of the Future, where the convergence of technical metrics and business context elevates the efficiency, agility, and overall success of your enterprise, contact us at [email protected].

Vaibhav Kalyani

About Author

Vaibhav Kalyani – Senior Technical Program Manager at VuNet Systems. He brings a rich experience of 12 years in middleware technologies and production operations. His strategic focus on streamlining processes and implementing effective automation consistently drives impactful results in his professional endeavours.

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