John Hill, Carhartt’s chief information officer, says that as Carhartt expanded its global footprint, it was important for IT to deliver a core set of capabilities that could scale as needed to different regions, rather than having different infrastructures and different application capabilities for every market. And that meant his team was going to be busy both building and retooling.
Historically, Carhartt had emphasized its wholesale business. More recently, it had added 30 retail stores and begun selling direct-to-consumer through its website. This was an exciting change for the company.
"Now we can really represent the brand the way we want to,” says Donavan Marchywka, senior manager for digital engineering. But it also required a cultural shift. Under the wholesale approach, the sales cycle lasted from three to twelve months. With the transition to digital, sales were happening in the moment.
As Carhartt moved to a more agile business model, Hill knew it would be incumbent on IT to lead the way. He began looking for a performance management solution that would allow his team to take control of application performance while continually enhancing the user experience. It was also very important to demonstrate how the actions taken by his team were driving business outcomes.
IT had been relying on an alerting system to identify issues in four on-premises environments. But the system didn’t meet the team’s need to react in real time to changes in applications or the market. And the information it provided didn’t overlap with business needs. “The business didn’t care that a particular server was up,” Marchywka recalled. “The business cared that a business transaction was completed successfully."
Hill decided to deploy AppDynamics as the leading solution for both application performance management and business process monitoring. “Many suppliers in this space will say their technology works and have nice slideware, but AppDynamics puts its money where its mouth is,” Hill says.
Hill knew it would take time to achieve end-to-end visibility across Carhartt’s entire ecosystem, but he also believed he could realize immediate value from AppDynamics by focusing on specific processes like ordering, inventory, and checkout.
Leading up to Cyber Monday 2016, the team built a dashboard that tracked sales velocity and response times. “We wanted to see what was happening in real time as orders were coming in and how the infrastructure was supporting those orders,” Hill says.
On Cyber Monday, Marchywka and his engineers settled into their war room to monitor the action. To Marchywka’s surprise, they were joined within an hour by members of the senior management team. It turned out Hill had sent out a link to the new dashboard to the leadership. For the first time, Carhartt’s executives could watch orders being placed and processed. “The president of the company joked that the Business iQ dashboard was addictive,” Hill says.
As business leaders looked on, the engineers spotted an issue in the order processing system that could have had a direct impact on the day’s revenue. The issue was fixed in ten minutes. “Before deploying AppDynamics and Business iQ, we wouldn’t have known about the problem until customers started complaining to the help desk,” Hill says. “We were able to quickly readjust and resolve the problem without our customers knowing that a problem was starting to occur.”
Marchywka and his team were able to impress their business colleagues a second time that day with real-time monitoring of the inventory process. A special promotion offered customers a gift with purchases over $125. Prior to deploying AppDynamics, the business would have had to risk leaving some customers unsatisfied, as it was inevitable that some popular items would sell out during Cyber Monday. “The last thing you want to do is run a promotion promising a gift and then when customers get to the checkout flow they don’t receive the gift because it is out of stock, or even worse; they are told they’ll receive it and then it is canceled later,” Marchywka says. But the Business iQ dashboard reduced the risk to the business to zero.
“The business was able to monitor the number of orders compared with the number of items in inventory and say, ok, it’s ten o’clock, and we are running low on that item. Let’s switch to another promotion,” Marchywka recalls. By the end of the day, the company had registered more than a million dollars in sales—a record.
Hill says he plans to expand the use of AppDynamics beyond the eCommerce environment. “There are lots of parts of the business, whether it’s the supply chain or our distribution business that are very dependent on the ability to get data,” Hill says.
Beyond monitoring, automation and machine learning represent the new holy grails for IT organizations. Hill says he looks forward to increasing predictability by automating tasks that are currently done manually. And Marchewka has already identified one area where AppDynamics can help. He explains that an inventory check sometimes causes latency in the checkout process during high-traffic periods. “We are looking to have AppDynamics automatically detect and disable the service that is causing the latency,” Marchewka says. “The idea is that the identification and response to latency—that will all be automated and triggered out of AppDynamics."