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ROI for IT Infrastructure Monitoring - Measuring what Matters

I read an interesting post and related ebook by David Meerman Scott on why traditional marketing ROI measures lead to failure. His premise is that measuring marketing metrics such as number of sales leads captured and press mentions lead to the wrong behaviors and in some ways undermine one of the primary goals of marketing, which is to increase sales and market share. So, why is everyone in both marketing and IT so focused on ROI?

 

The answer is that focusing on the return of your investments in different parts of the business allows you to allocate scare resources and drive the best returns for the shareholders. They key is tracking the metrics that matter. Here are two examples, one from marketing and one from IT.

 

In previous positions, I have created marketing dashboards that charted many the items that Mr. Scott slammed. Why would I or other seasoned marketing professionals do this? One reason is that some metrics are relatively easy to track (such as leads captured at a trade show or the number of responses to a marketing campaign). Correlating these to the real goal of increasing sales is much trickier and requires much heavier monitoring infrastructure including obtaining accurate input from sales and customers about the number of touches and how individual marketing campaigns or programs influenced each stage of the sales process. Few companies have the will or discipline to do this.

 

On the IT side, there are also easily-trackable metrics. Server utilization, power consumption, and application uptime appear on many IT dashboards. While these are certainly important, what really matters is how the IT infrastructure supports the business goals. Business owners care about:



  • Availability - can my users access the applications they need?

  • Performance - does the application deliver an acceptable response time?

  • Data accuracy - does the application maintain data integrity?
 

Again, tracking these business-focused metrics is harder than focusing on ones that are easy to gather from element managers that often accompany systems. But, the right management software and some automated processes make it straight forward to create IT dashboards with mean. This is what the field of business service management is all about. BSM links the underlying infrastructure and applications to business outcomes such as those listed above.

 

To learn more about BSM, please visit my colleague Mike Shaw’s BSM blog or download a white paper about HP’s approach to BSM.

 

In future posts, I and my fellow bloggers will address how robust IT infrastructure monitoring contributes to delivering availability, performance, and accurate data

 

For HP Operations Center, Peter Spielvogel.


 

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