gears
With its latest update to SteelCentral, Riverbed gives businesses a window into the many moving parts underlying the digital experience PHOTO: Pete Birkinshaw

For all the talk about digital experience and digital transformation strategies, most enterprises have little or no way of assessing the effectiveness of the technology supporting their digital experiences.

San Francisco-based Riverbed, a provider of IT monitoring and performance tools since its founding in 1998, released a new version of its flagship application SteelCentral on June 20. The updates make it possible for enterprises to measure and control the quality of the software and infrastructure behind the digital experiences they provide.

SteelCentral Examines the Digital Experience Gears

The updated SteelCentral creates a combined view of what customers see and how the back end responds, examining the networks underpinning those experiences as well as the infrastructure.

“What we do is look at all the elements that make up a digital application or service. An array of elements (the end user device, the application, the WAN, the LAN, and even infrastructure on the back end) can cause the user to experience outages, delays, slowdowns. Riverbed monitors each of these elements at a deep level and blends this information into comprehensive views of performance," Nik Koutsoukos, VP of Product Marketing at Riverbed told CMSWire.

Monitoring is an underserved part of the digital experience, as seen in Gartner research from October 2016 which found fewer than five percent of global enterprises have strategically implemented digital experience monitoring.

“This is a key need driven, in large part, by the increasing emphasis from businesses on digital transformation and digital business. Some of our competitors have begun to leverage phases surrounding digital business and digital transformation. However, SteelCentral’s capabilities for managing the experience granularly at the end users’ devices puts Riverbed in a leadership position with this concept,” Koutsoukos added.

A Granular Look Into Digital Experiences

A recent report by Enterprise Management Associates noted the adoption of digital transformation strategies escalates the need for more effective, diverse and well-metricized capabilities to assess application performance, end-user productivity and business process impacts.

Fifty-nine percent of enterprise leaders in the report agreed IT and the business share the responsibility for Digital Experience Management, which meant the lack of assessment impacts not only IT, but the business side as well, including marketing and sales.

“Despite the focus on digital transformation, few companies can understand the digital experience of their customers or their workforce," Erik Hille, Product Marketing director for SteelCentral wrote in a blog post about the release.

“Customers complain about web load times, app performance, network speed, yet IT has no line of sight to the problem. Performance is impacted, customer satisfaction plummets and the IT’s reputation is lagging the market.”

He added the new release pulls SteelCentral Portal, SteelCentral Aternity and SteelCentral AppInternals, which combined provide IT and business users with a device-based view of the end-users’ experience.

“Our customers are making big ticket, highly strategic investments in digital business transformation initiatives to drive customer intimacy and employee/partner productivity,” Mike Sargent, senior vice president and general manager of SteelCentral at Riverbed said in a statement.

"But with the adoption of cloud and mobile technologies, they are finding that traditional tools are unable to holistically measure and manage a user’s digital experience.”

SteelCentral Aternity and AppInternals additionally provide an integrated monitoring system for the entire end user service so IT can rapidly troubleshoot across devices and applications.

Identifying the Digital Experience Problem Areas

Digital experience assessment tools fill a core need, given the level of interest in digital transformation strategies and their effectiveness.

“Understanding the digital experience is an on-ramp to delivering additional value to users. For companies that leverage DevOps processes, visibility into the elements that are creating problems in the customer’s experience can lead to new project to improve performance,” Koutsoukos added.

“For instance, a data call within an application could be slowing down the overall app performance. Monitoring this could potentially create a project to remediate the issues and improve performance. In addition, monitoring and analyzing digital experience can help to identify areas where technologies like SD-WAN or WAN optimization can be applied to accelerate applications across the company."

End user experience is critical to the success of many digital business initiatives. Poor application performance impacts brand perceptions and customer satisfaction, but most organizations still struggle to understand how different elements of the application delivery chain impact end user experience.

With this SteelCentral update, Riverbed shines a light on this dark corner. But it’s not finished.

“With SteelCentral, we are committed to helping companies through the complex challenges that stem from their digital initiatives. We will continue to improve and update our solutions to drive visibility for the end user within IT, help companies meet the demands created by transformative technologies like cloud, and break down operational silos between fragmented IT domain groups,” Koutsoukos said.