There is a major performance gap between the needs of business and IT’s current ability to deliver. While 98% of executives agree that optimal enterprise application performance is critical to achieving optimal business performance, 94% of say the poor performance of enterprise applications has negatively impacted their work, and 59% say it impacts their work at least weekly.
This performance gap is causing a series of problems for companies, from lost revenue and customers to lower morale to negative impact on brand image, according to the Riverbed Global Application Performance Survey 2015, which polled business decision-makers on the business impact of application performance.
Wimpie van Rensburg, country manager: sub-Saharan Africa at Riverbed, explains that the survey targeted business executives rather than CIOs specifically because it wanted to determine business impact.
In fact, app performance usually translates into direct impact on the business operations, and can have a real, measurable effect on revenue, he says. “If the app performs better, companies can services customers better. And the converse is true: if the app is down or not performing you will lose customers.”
Van Rensburg shares stats that show not only will customers move away from a site if it performs badly, but most of them won’t come back.
But customers are not the only people impacted by poor or irregular performance, staff members are unable to work effectively and many report being impacted daily or at least weekly.
Importantly, executives feel they are in the dark about the performance of their applications: they don’t know what the issues are or when they will be corrected, further highlighting the gap between IT and business teams.
Companies universally agree that business performance relies on application performance. And yet nine out of 10 organisations suffer from poor performance on a regular basis. One cause of this performance gap is the move to hybrid IT. Migrating apps to the cloud brings agility and cost benefits, but, with other apps still on-premises, it also brings complexity. With apps, data and users literally everywhere, the work of optimising and delivering great app performance has gotten much tougher for IT organisations. But you can’t control what you can’t see. And in order to close the performance gap, having a clear line of sight into how the apps are performing – and how the end user experience is being impacted – has also become a business imperative.
“The results of the survey reflect what we’re hearing every day from IT leaders who are looking to deliver superior application performance in the midst of rapidly evolving, highly complex and hybrid IT environments,” says Jerry Kennelly, chairman and CEO of Riverbed.  “With apps, data and end users everywhere today, companies need end-to-end application visibility, optimization, and control everywhere as well to close the performance gap.  Riverbed helps organisations improve application performance to drive tangible business benefits and performance.”
Survey respondents specified their top three business benefits of optimal application performance versus the negative impact of poorly performing applications.
The benefits of optimal app performance are: improved employee productivity (48%); time savings 52%); cost savings (42%); improved customer satisfaction (40%); faster delivery of products to market (34%); and improved employee morale (28%).
The pitfalls of poor app performance are: dissatisfied clients or customers (43%); contract delays (42%); missed a critical deadline (32%); lost clients or customers (37%); negative impact on brand (31%); and decreased employee morale (28%).
The survey found that executives would be willing to sacrifice a lot for applications to work at peak performance at all times. In fact, 28% would give up their full lunch break. They would also give up a portion of their program budget (26%), caffeine (25%), and even chocolate (23%).
Given the universally recognized importance of optimal application performance, why is it so difficult for IT to deliver? Globally, 71% of respondents say they have felt frequently “in the dark” about why their enterprise applications are running slowly, spotlighting a disconnect between IT teams and business executives. And outside the Americas region, that number grows even larger at 76% in EMEA and 75% across Asia.
Troublingly, executives can contribute to the problem as they try to work around it: 35% of respondents say they have used unsupported apps when corporate apps run slowly or stop working altogether, thus adding to infrastructure complexity with more “shadow IT”. Others have expressed frustration to colleagues (31%), taken an extended lunch (25%), used slow or down apps as an excuse for missing a deadline (28%), and even left work early (23%).
Migrating apps to the cloud has delivered benefits to the business, but also some challenges.
Nearly all (95%) of respondents use cloud-based enterprise applications in their work, 79% say their company’s use of cloud-based enterprise applications will increase over the next two years, and 73% of respondents say that moving key enterprise applications to the cloud has increased productivity. Additional benefits of cloud-based enterprise apps include increased flexibility (50%), cost savings (39%), increased agility (36%), and increased collaboration (36%).
That’s the good news about cloud apps. The bad news is that hybrid IT contributes to the performance gap. There is an increased difficulty in getting end-to-end visibility into the complex, hybrid IT architectures that result from the use of both cloud and on-premises apps.
Eighty-four percent of respondents say they believe trouble-shooting application performance issues is more difficult in a hybrid IT environment. In fact, according to a survey by Forrester, the majority of companies (51%) say that application complexity is now their primary obstacle to mastering application performance. On average, respondents estimate it takes nearly seven hours for serious app problems to be completely resolved.
In summary, business executives overwhelmingly agree that application performance is critical to business performance and driving results, yet the vast majority are impacted by poor app performance, creating a performance gap.  At the same time, business executives are leveraging the power of cloud-based applications and hybrid networks to elevate productivity and create happier, more loyal customers and employees. However, cloud and hybrid environments add complexity and application performance challenges that can also negatively impact business operations, and too often executives feel “in the dark” as to why poor app performance is happening and how to stop it.
To deliver superior application performance in today’s hybrid environments, enterprises need a comprehensive solution that provides end-to-end application visibility, optimisation and control.
Pictured: Wimpie van Rensburg, country manager: sub-Saharan Africa at Riverbed