For your business to be competitive, you must do more than align IT with your business objectives; you must integrate IT with the business and allow the business investments to fuel innovation through IT.
A business generates value by developing and selling goods or services. The ability to create these goods or services is dependent on supporting physical, intellectual, and IT processes. Underlying applications, automated processes, and end-user interactions must all work together to make the business successful. For example, banks depend on a number of related tasks and business applications to process online bill payments; the end user initiates payment, the bank transfers payment to the entity that issued the bill, and the bank updates the user’s account balance.
How can you tell if IT is integrated with the business? You need to understand what’s happening and how business and IT work together.
Monitoring Isn’t Enough
Business application monitoring enables you to see how business and technical activities work together to affect both business and IT operational performance. The focal point for monitoring and measurement is the business application. When you correlate business, application and technical information, you enable multi-disciplinary management teams to make decisions and solve problems accurately and quickly. Business-integrated IT demonstrates the value of the IT organization to the business and proves that IT costs aren’t just overhead, but rather IT can drive innovation for the business.
Because business, application, and technical operations depend on separate silos of information, you must monitor applications from both a business and an IT perspective. Transactions provide the value the business derives from the application, such as a user who pays a bill online. Technology components process transactions (issue payment) and convey them to related activities (update the user’s account balance). To provide a complete picture of business application performance, you must correlate transaction value and latency—the time it takes the technology component to process and convey transactions.
How can you synchronize this disparate information? To measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), you must focus on the application and its execution. It is difficult, if not impossible, to continually consolidate and correlate this data from independent monitoring tools, particularly when you’re processing thousands of transactions per second across multiple platforms and environments. You need a tool that provides a framework for transforming data and delivering synchronized information to stakeholders who have varied needs. While these stakeholders measure performance differently, the metrics must come from a common source—the transaction flow through an application. This type of framework provides cause-and-effect information much faster than typical business intelligence or independent IT monitoring systems.
Better Decisions Lead to Higher Value
Synchronized information is critical for better multi-disciplinary, decision-making processes. When you implement a structure that turns data into information, you transform IT from an overhead expense to an integral component of the business that provides value through investment, not cost reductions. Your business depends on IT to innovate and support new initiatives that will help the bottom line. Truly business-integrated IT organizations provide visibility into the relationships that affect all levels of the business.
Business-Integrated IT in Practice
Here’s an example of how business-integrated IT worked in a recent merger. Two large North American banks merged. One bank had been using messaging middleware to transport transactions and messages between its distributed systems and mainframe. Until the merger, this bank had monitored its complex middleware environment with homegrown scripts and discrete monitoring tools, which provided minimal event notification and no compliance documentation or business dashboard views. Proactive business service management was impossible with this model.
The other bank used a tool that monitored the business applications providing consolidation of technical, application and business information in a common tool framework. The consolidated bank chose the integrated solution. Living up to the old adage that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, the bank now has complete visibility into business applications and it has the information it needs to realize the value of business-integrated IT. When there are latency issues or technology outages, IT understands the business impact and can prioritize and respond to situations appropriately. The end result? Stable operations and maximum efficiency.