What is Digital Experience Monitoring?

Digital experience monitoring (DEM) is the evolution of application performance monitoring (APM) and end user experience monitoring (EUEM) into a comprehensive tool that analyzes the efficacy of an enterprise’s applications and services.

Application performance management evaluates how an application performs, where EUEM analyzes user behavior within an application; DEM essentially combines these functions and goes beyond both to ensure consistency across the customer experience.

According to Gartner, DEM is defined as: “an availability and performance monitoring discipline that supports the optimization of the operational experience and behavior of a digital agent, human or machine, as it interacts with enterprise applications and services.”

DEM is an emerging discipline that is an essential element of one of three functional dimensions of APM in Gartner’s magic quadrant market assessment tool, which includes: digital experience modeling, application discovery, tracing, and diagnostics (ADTD), and application analytics (AA).

Gartner uses DEM in its assessments of APM vendors, but will also be using DEM to monitor their own market metrics, which is evidence of its growing importance. In today’s digital world, a seamless user experience is the most significant aspect of driving customer behavior, and DEM allows an enterprise to optimize the online components of their business, from digital marketing to web security and beyond, by utilizing real user monitoring to identify performance issues and improve processes.

Why is digital experience monitoring important?

Due to the broad-reaching effects of digitalization, the moving parts involved with running a business are more intertwined than ever before. The end result of this synergy is a convenient and cohesive customer journey – as long as all of the business processes involved on the backend are operating efficiently and effectively.

However, an unintended consequence of this finely woven network of services is the fragmentation that occurs behind the scenes. More often than not, IT operations are less likely to be maintained by one centralized, collaborative team. Instead, multiple teams manage the work associated with specialized components such as digital marketing, cyber security, web management, application development, and social business, and each of these teams works independently of each other and with their own system of communication and technical jargon. Ideally, these are all cogs that operate without friction to synthesize the processes of a finely-tuned machine.

DEM is a real-time monitoring tool that helps the "machine" of your enterprise run smoothly by identifying any vulnerabilities that contribute to outages, downtime, or disruptions to the user experience, such as slow page load times, and assesses the root cause of issues that affect performance while recommending solutions.

A combination of human and machine-initiated interactions provides the most comprehensive solution to performance monitoring. This is why many online businesses are moving away from traditional end user monitoring to incorporate DEM, which utilizes information from both.

Benefits of digital experience monitoring

Implementing experience monitoring solutions is crucial to any enterprise undergoing a digital transformation. Streamlining the digital processes associated with running a business creates a solid foundation for future updates to existing systems or ongoing innovation. Although humans still primarily interact the most with applications, an increasing number of machines exchange information via artificial intelligence. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to computing devices embedded in everyday objects, which allow them to send and receive information. DEM monitors the performance data of these processes to ensure ongoing functionality.

The ability to predict and adapt are essential to staying current in the age of digitalization. Customers aren't aware of the backend challenges of keeping the various cogs moving smoothly; they only know how they feel interacting with the different facets of your business, from mobile apps to web applications to social pages, and they expect quality and consistency at every level. The metrics offered by an experience monitoring strategy allows businesses to identify and mitigate issues that may negatively impact the customer experience, and consequently, the reputation of the enterprise.

Types of digital experience monitoring tools

There is any number of issues that can result in frustrating user experience, and not all of them are within your control. Glitches could be the result of the limitations of a user's device or browser, or a local issue affecting the cloud. Understanding why a problem is occurring is the first step to solving it or offering resources to the user, and DEM tools can help identify problems and offer solutions.

Testing an application prior to release can be challenging without users to stumble upon causes for concern, but no one wants to release a product full of errors either. Synthetic transaction monitoring (STM) uses behavioral scripts to recreate potential user actions so that performance issues can be eliminated before real customers are affected.

Real user monitoring (RUM) records all customer interactions with your existing application from the user's perspective so that DevOps teams can find and repair problems swiftly and with minimal setbacks to other users.

Challenges of digital experience monitoring

DEM solves the age-old problem of not being able to be everywhere at once. The greatest challenges of delivering the best performance include divergent technology and division of responsibilities. DEM can facilitate with the associated issues of both.

Divergent tech

The broad spectrum of user technology is a logistical nightmare for DevOps. Not only is there the division of iOS versus Android, but also a wide range of operating systems and updates. There are multiple devices, a variety of operating systems, a range of hardware limitations and then inconsistencies in user behavior, such as using a web application versus a mobile app -- and on top of all of that, connection types ranging from wi-fi to cellular data.

Division of responsibilities

While it's all too easy to blame users, potential issues lurk on your own servers as well. As microservices become more popular in terms of project architecture, it's easier to develop a kink in the communication pipeline among your own teams, and it can be difficult to track down the problem when it's coming from within. It's more difficult to see your digital services as a unified tool when responsibilities are divided.

How to create your DEM strategy

Digitization is changing not only our world, but also the objects within it; smart phones, smart cars, smart televisions, smart appliances, and more -- artificial intelligence is everywhere and customers expect a seamless experience. Connectivity, monitoring, and applications are required for many objects and most enterprises, and DEM exists to fulfill a growing need.

Upgrade your existing APM suite by incorporating digital experience monitoring to prepare for the advancement of technology and to create more ease as your business interfaces with its users and expands into additional platforms.

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