Digital experience monitoring (DEM) has gained momentum in 2020 as millions of employees around the globe shifted to working from home, removing traditional modes of IT visibility overnight. The recently updated Gartner Market Guide for Digital Experience Monitoring[i] (Gartner subscription required) examines the state of the market, the firm’s recommendations, and some of the vendors involved.

Whether you’re new to digital experience monitoring or familiar with the technology, Gartner’s Market Guide for Digital Experience Monitoring has something to offer. In this post, we’ll explore some of what we believe to be the key takeaways from the report and how the DEM market is evolving to support the needs of its consumers.

What Is Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM)?

Digital experience monitoring is a performance analysis discipline that provides insight into a user’s journey within the digital workspace. DEM for internal employees is also sometimes referred to as end user experience management (EUEM).

Here’s how Gartner defines digital experience monitoring:

“Digital experience monitoring (DEM) technologies monitor the availability, performance and quality of experience an end user or digital agent receives as they interact with an application and the supporting infrastructure. Users can be external consumers of a service (such as patrons of a retail website), internal employees accessing corporate tools (such as a benefits management system), or a combination of both. DEM technologies seek to observe and model the behavior of users as a continuous flow of interactions in the form of user journeys.”[i]

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Digital Experience Monitoring Categories

Gartner’s updated Market Guide for Digital Experience Monitoring outlines three subcategories within DEM: real user monitoring (RUM), endpoint monitoring (EP), and synthetic transaction monitoring (STM). RUM, EP, and STM differ in how they are instrumented, what information they collect, and what use cases they support.

In the report, Gartner states, “By integrating these technologies, DEM creates a comprehensive view and analysis of the customer experience and, ultimately, the impact on the organization or business. This insight becomes critical as more applications and workloads move to the cloud and I&O leaders lose control of the infrastructure components of the applications and services.”[i]

DEM vendors may cover one or multiple areas with their solutions. Lakeside Software was named a representative vendor in the Market Guide for Digital Experience Monitoring in all three areas (DEM Vendors with Real User Monitoring Technologies, DEM Vendors with Endpoint Monitoring Technologies, and DEM Vendors with Synthetic Transaction Monitoring Technologies) for our product, SysTrack.

Real User Monitoring (RUM)

According to Gartner, “Real user monitoring (RUM) measures user experience from the perspective of the application (for example, at a web application level).”[i]

As its name suggests, RUM examines real user experience by monitoring web or desktop application performance while the app is being used. It can be used internally to monitor employees’ apps or externally to understand the experience of visitors on a website.

For example, an organization might deploy digital experience monitoring in the form of RUM to gain insight into how well an internally developed web app performs. Or, in the case of external RUM, an ecommerce company might instrument their website to identify whether issues such as poor page speed are causing users to leave the site without completing a purchase.

Endpoint Monitoring (EP)

The report describes endpoint monitoring as “endpoint monitoring (EP) technologies that provide visibility into end-user devices.”[i]

Endpoint monitoring technologies work by deploying agents on employees’ machines, whether physical or virtual (i.e. VDI or DaaS). Since data collection happens on the endpoint, EP can provide visibility regardless of whether an organization uses cloud or on-premises infrastructure. Endpoints can include desktops, laptops, thin clients, and mobile devices.

One of Gartner’s recommendations in the Market Guide for Digital Experience Monitoring is to “Gain visibility into remote worker user experience by deploying endpoint monitoring technologies from the user device perspective.”[i]

Visibility has been a major hurdle for organizations supporting the IT needs of thousands of newly remote workers. With employees working outside of the corporate network and infrastructure, many IT departments have lost the ability to visualize and control end-user experience. EP enables remote work monitoring by collecting, analyzing, and reporting data even when employees aren’t domain-joined.

Another common endpoint monitoring use case is facilitating productivity improvements. EP tools collect performance metrics such as CPU, disk, memory, and latency as well as usage information. Some EP vendors such as Lakeside use this data to calculate an end-user experience score, which serves as a high-level KPI for understanding the impact of IT performance on employees’ working hours. These insights are important for ensuring that employees’ productivity isn’t impeded by issues like app crashes or VPN problems.

Synthetic Transaction Monitoring (STM)

Finally, synthetic transaction monitoring encompasses “synthetic transaction monitoring (STM) technologies that have been around for decades and help organizations proactively test services, such as SaaS.”[i]

Unlike RUM or EP, synthetic transaction monitoring doesn’t collect data from real users. Instead, IT uses STM tools to run transactions to gather data on how long a process takes to complete. For example, IT could run transactions to test the availability of critical services like Microsoft Teams before start of business. This can be useful for ensuring that SaaS uptime SLAs are met.

When EP and RUM are used alongside STM, organizations can both proactively run availability tests and understand the experience real users receive. This is key for adding context to why a transaction might be slow and identifying whether the root cause is the service provider, infrastructure, device, network, or application.

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How Digital Experience Monitoring Is Evolving

Organizations are increasingly recognizing the relationship between customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) when it comes to technology. Independent of what sector or industry you’re in, IT problems at the employee level have ripple effects:

  • Point-of-sale system failures disrupt cashiers’ ability to process transactions, increasing customer wait times
  • In hospitals, system slowness can delay care and impede physicians’ ability to stay on schedule with appointments
  • Insurance employees whose applications are crashing may not be able to process as many claims in a day, causing delays in already clogged systems

Traditionally, IT may have been able to combat these problems through in-person support or resolving internal infrastructure issues. However, increasing adoption of cloud computing, SaaS, and remote work necessitate a new approach.

That’s where digital experience monitoring can help.

According to Gartner, “While DEM has historically focused on externally facing, revenue-generating applications, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the organization’s inabilities to ensure employee experience given the lack of control of devices, access points and service providers used to access corporate applications. DEM technologies offer a unique way to help both employee and customer experience.”[i]

This new era of DEM isn’t just about capturing both EX and CX but is also defined by a change in how IT departments define success. While excellent availability and performance matter, what is ultimately important is how they feed into business outcomes.

Gartner offers this strategic planning assumption:

By 2025, 70% of digital business initiatives will require I&O leaders to report on the business metrics from digital experience, up from less than 15% today.

By correlating digital experience with business outcomes such as those outlined in the examples above, IT leaders can more clearly communicate the value of their initiatives to the wider organization and justify further investments in digital transformation.

Lakeside’s Approach to DEM

Lakeside Software’s digital experience monitoring solution, SysTrack, is designed to give IT teams full visibility and control over employee digital experiences.

Full visibility to us means capturing an extensive breadth and depth of data—thousands of metrics related to the usage and performance of endpoints. To accomplish this scope of collection, we have an extremely light, patented agent architecture that scales beautifully to support deployments of over 400,000 devices.

Why so much data? We’ve found that in order to achieve the improvements and business outcomes IT is hoping for with a digital experience monitoring practice, detection is essential. Simply put, before you can resolve a problem or automate it away, you need to know that it exists and pinpoint its root cause.

Along with deep data collection, SysTrack also collects data continuously and presents it in both real time and historically. This is key for detection as well, but also enables IT to spot trends and perform before and after analysis to judge the outcome of IT actions like deploying software patches.

Some of the ways SysTrack differs from other DEM solutions include:

  • Truly cloud native architecture as well as on-premises
  • Robust integrations and partnerships with leading technology vendors like Microsoft, Citrix, VMware, and ServiceNow
  • Artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) features that add an additional layer of proactive insights and automation to SysTrack’s core DEM capabilities

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[i] Gartner, Market Guide for Digital Experience Monitoring, Federico De Silva, Charley Rich, Josh Chessman, 25 August 2020

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