Tech performance issues plague IT and businesses

By Sharon Florentine , CIO |  IT Management

Outlook connection problems? Salesforce.com system crashing repeatedly? Trouble connecting to internal human resources systems? You're not alone.

According to a recent study from Compuware, of the more than 300 business executives surveyed, 48% reported they experience tech performance issues daily, and three out of four of those executives say the frequency and severity of these issues isn't improving.

It's not that executives and IT leaders don't want to fix these problems, says Bharath Gowda, director of technology performance, Compuware. It's that they're pressured to focus on what are seen as larger, more pressing issues instead of these day-to-day headaches, he says.

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"When you look at the role of executives and senior IT leaders, they're being told to focus on being transformational and to direct their efforts to larger, strategic objectives: cost-cutting, consolidation, outsourcing, researching and implementing new technology for competitive advantage," Gowda says.

That focus, while admirable, takes time and energy away from their ability to monitor and manage the effectiveness of the technology they already have and how that drives business now, Gowda says.

Déjà vu All Over Again

While it may seem that these technology issues creep up on IT leaders and take them by surprise, according to the results of the study, IT leaders say they are well aware of the limitations and problems with their systems -- because they've happened before. Eighty-one percent of survey respondents said they knew they'd experience a technical performance issue or failure because it had happened before.

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"This is a common theme," says Gowda. "These 'little problems' have to fester for awhile before they cause big problems and force some kind of action. But what's really at the root of this is that executives and IT leaders are measuring the wrong things," he says.

How to Measure the Impact of Tech Failures

Yes, major technology failures can sneak up and bring business to a screeching halt, Gowda says. But, more importantly, monitoring and measuring the impact of smaller performance hiccups and legacy solutions failures can help businesses do more with less by getting more value out of the systems that already are in place, he says.

"It's a matter of consumption economics," says Gowda. "If you're measuring the wrong things, you aren't seeing how technology is actually being used by end-users. If you're not measuring the day-to-day effectiveness of these systems, then you aren't measuring the value of these systems to your business," Gowda says.

Of survey respondents, only one-third report they regularly collect data about these performance issues, and quantify the impact of failures on business, and that's part of the problem, says Gowda.

"In most cases it's not a lack of desire to fix these issues, but a lack of measurement," Gowda says. "If IT had a good sense of the usage of email, or Salesforce.com or any legacy system that workers need to be productive and effective, then it would be easier to drive investment in those areas," he says.

IT Leaders Must Take Performance Issues Seriously

To effectively leverage technology, he says, corporate leaders must understand the impact of technology on their business and take technology performance as seriously as they take other business-critical areas of their operations."

"Employing a performance-management discipline where performance data gets collected regularly, measured and analyzed, is a good place to start. You need to be able to identify, measure, and understand performance issues before you can truly fix them," he says.

Sharon Florentine covers IT careers and data center topics for CIO.com. Follow Sharon on Twitter @MyShar0na. Email her at sflorentine@cio.com Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook.

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