A word from an expert: Transforming IT monitoring to meet customer experience requirements

Loïc Fontaine, a Centreon partner since 2014, shares his observations and analysis on the new role played by IT monitoring in serving the customer experience. Loïc noticed that his clients’ expectations and practices in terms of IT monitoring have significantly evolved from purely technical monitoring to indicators and uses that are entirely focused on the lines of business and on operational excellence.

Centreon. Can you introduce yourself and Lolokai Conseil?

Loïc Fontaine. I am the CEO of Lolokai Conseil, a company that has developed two major expertises: IT monitoring around open source and licensed solutions developed by Centreon, and helpdesk integration services with the GLPI tool. Our clients are large SMEs, local authorities as well as key accounts in the retail, health, telecommunications, banking, transport and services sectors.

Centreon. What are the new IT monitoring challenges you encounter with your clients? 

Loïc Fontaine. I’ve been working with the Centreon platform for over 10 years and since 2018, I’ve seen a significant evolution of clients’ IT and business expectations, in every activity sector. In the past, monitoring would be very technical and be restricted to IT managers and technicians, whereas now we have high demand from the lines of business. Eighty percent of our activity comes from clients realizing that having a business view in monitoring is 100 times better and that it is in fact essential! Business and IT are so intertwined nowadays that even the smallest flaw in IT has a direct impact on the customer experience and on the turnover. For instance, one of my clients has a fully automated logistics warehouse handling Internet orders. If IT does not work properly, the delivery chain is immediately stopped and deliveries are delayed. 

Our clients are now fully aware they need to link monitoring to the lines of business. The quality of the customer experience, which is nowadays based on the digital value chain, is as much an economic as a marketing issue in terms of brand image for companies. 

Centreon. What are your customers’ expectations in terms of business-focused monitoring?

Loïc Fontaine. IT must be reliable, otherwise it leads to direct loss of turnover. The indicators need to analyze the quality of the customer or user experience. For instance, a client for whom I have set up monitoring for a portal where employees can report their sick leaves, needs to know whether employees are in a condition to carry out this procedure. Therefore we measure – and display for our client – the response times of the portal in Centreon. 

Monitoring has turned into a tool to check whether customers can place an order, how long it takes them, and so on. Monitoring is directly involved in enhancing the customer experience. By coupling Centreon with new technologies – mainly APM tools – customer experience can easily be measured in a single dashboard displaying metrics from the data derived from multiple business applications.

Centreon. So the indicators have evolved…

Loïc Fontaine. Exactly! We measure and integrate new, higher-level indicators. IT has evolved significantly since the 2000s. The IT environment is different now, with new, more abstract systems. Ten years ago, I wasn’t measuring the same type of environments and the indicators have changed.

Old indicators are no longer relevant. Nowadays, we no longer think in terms of machines but in terms of application blocks. Availability and performance are measured differently. We no longer think in terms of resources consumed but in terms of an action’s processing time. The indicators and the way they’re interpreted are different.

Centreon. Not to mention that IT now extends from cloud to edge computing with hybrid systems…

Loïc Fontaine. This is the major change in the last year, even though we’ve been hearing about the cloud for 10 years. Hybridization has become an operational reality. With the arrival of the cloud, companies thought they would no longer have to deal with it. And yet the cloud still represents machines, but these are outside the company. We need new indicators to monitor them. The cloud environment – Microsoft 365, Teams, Amazon Web services and Azure – is an integral part of the indicators we set up.

Our clients are delegating the management of their cloud to providers but they still need to know if it is working. Even though end users don’t see the different components of the IT system handling their request, each link in the application chain has to be monitored through unified dashboards, including what is no longer physically in the company.

Centreon. Do you have any requests to make monitoring indicators available to the lines of business?

Loïc Fontaine. What we have been observing for over a year now is increasing demand for dashboards for the lines of business and the users. They are often displayed on the company’s Intranet using specific dashboards since employees from the lines of business have different expectations than employees from the Infrastructures. They want to know if their applications are working. They do not expect technical information but rather easy-to-read icons along the lines of a weather forecast (sun, storm, etc.) or displaying easy-to-read colors (green, orange, red). There is also high demand from technical assistance departments. 

A national franchise network, with whom I work, has been managing hotline faults more quickly and more efficiently since a dashboard specific to their activity has been made available to their helpdesk teams. IT monitoring significantly contributes to operational excellence.

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