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August 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007

BAM Myth #4: Limit BAM to Monitoring Simply KPIs

Posted by Giles Nelson

Here’s another in our “BAM Myths” series, exploring some of the preconceptions behind BAM.

An uncontroversial definition of BAM’s role is “to provide real-time business visibility into important business data and processes”. Take the example of the monitoring of client behaviour on a Web site. Perhaps we wish to understand how end-users are interacting with the Web site and also aim for a certain service level to be delivered. A candidate KPI (key performance indicator) to measure is the average response time between a request being received and the response dispatched back to the client.

This is certainly pretty straightforward to measure and put on a dashboard. We could also have a graph that goes red when the average response time goes above 1s. All very useful, but we should be able to go much, much further to give more relevant visibility. What about, for example, if we could predict when our service level might be exceeded in the future based upon current trends and therefore give us time to provide more computing resource? And if we could also use past activity levels at the relevant time of day to determine when the response time goes beyond two standard deviations from the historical average? We could also start correlating response times and an increase in clickstreams which failed to go all the way through to order placement. Lots of sophistication is possible by having the capability to properly correlate and analyse multiple streams of information coming from our underlying systems. Very few BAM projects get anywhere near delivering this though.

By not taking this approach, valuable business context is lost. Instead, simple, technical, KPIs are monitored which are probably only interesting and suitable for IT. It is surely preferable that the people who are responsible for business performance should have a dashboard in front of them that gives them the information directly.

Such requirements are required throughout an organization. Therefore organisations should ensure they use technology which can cope with a wide variety of different situations and which is agile enough so the BAM rules which are being applied can evolve as the organisation evolves.

Managers need to take their decisions faster with trust, consistency and depth. There is often no time for analysis of historical data to find out what happened. The decisions must be taken now, with a clear assessment of their potential organisational or business impact. This is why solutions that goes beyond simple monitoring with real time analysis and action capacities are required. And this is also why solutions that are supposedly BAM oriented, but are in fact just capable of simple KPI analysis and alerting, fall short.