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When transactions crash

Companies relying on complex IT systems to complete transactions are often unaware that rogue services and other security threats are damaging their bottom line. RICK PARRY of AIGS discusses why this lack of awareness often lies at the root of a poor customer service experience.
In a country where we havenmore cell phones than inhabitants, it’s safe to say that most South Africansnwill have filled out an application for a mobile contract at least once during theirnlifetimes. It is also safe to say, judging from the number of complaints lodgednon customer experience sites or in the press, that a fair amount of us havenexperienced some form of delay or error during the process. This brings me tonmy point: how many of us have thought about what lies beneath a businessntransaction, of which a cell phone contract is but one example? What path doesnit follow through the system? What traffic will it encounter? And how secure isnit?

Business processes arenbecoming more and more complex, involve an increasing number of differentntechnologies, platforms and sophisticated applications, subject to annincreasing amount of requirements – such as security, governance and mostnimportantly: visibility.

Companies spend millions onnapplication performance management (APM). APMs can drill down directly intoneach application and reveal what’s going on behind the scenes, but it providesnlittle insight into the end to end transactional behaviour.

We recently dealt with a cellnphone service provider who had, at any given moment, thousands of stuck orders.nTheir entire application process, from the time a customer registered annaccount to where it became live, involved a dozen different applications, eachncomprising of several transactions running on multiple servers. Although theyncould pore over the log files and investigate each application individually,nthey were unable to locate the root of the problem and determine where thentransaction had become stuck – at the expense of valuable customers.

This problem has becomenendemic in South Africa, where true adoption of a Service-OrientatednArchitecture (SOA) from a tech perspective is embryonic at best. Althoughncompanies are eager to adopt sophisticated applications, they have yet tonmaster the art of seamlessly bringing these applications together. As a result,nwhen something goes awry within the dependent services in their network, theynare faced with an unexpected performance crunch.

By making use of a consolenthat communicates with monitors and provides an intuitive, graphicalnrepresentation of how transactions are progressing across the systemn(regardless of the technology), companies are able to take preventativenmeasures when necessary, capitalising on revenue opportunities and respondingnto impending risks before the customer or sale is affected.

Most companies are aghast whennthey come “face-to-face” with the number of rogue services within theirnsupposedly well-behaved operating environment. By merely making use of availablenSOA technology, their enterprise risks are reduced and customer servicendelivery is improved.

Just as the network world wentnfrom simple single vendor to complex unmanaged single vendor to complexnunmanaged multivendor to complex managed multivendor environments, thenenterprise software world needs to realise that if they want best-of-breed,nthey must have a system that can manage it, from start to finish.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @gadgetza

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