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VMblog Expert Interview: Catchpoint CEO Mehdi Daoudi Explains How the Customer Experience is Changing and what that Means for Monitoring
interview catchpoint daoudi

Catchpoint is a global leader in digital experience monitoring and a pioneer in finding new ways to measure applications as experienced by actual users. VMblog sat down with Catchpoint's CEO and co-founder, Mehdi Daoudi, to get his perspective on the current state of digital experience monitoring and where the industry is headed next.

VMblog:  What are the core principles of effective monitoring strategy?

Mehdi Daoudi:  Monitoring is about answering questions, the first and most important being, "Why?"  Why am I seeing XYZ? What are you looking to solve through monitoring? Availability problems? Performance issues? Service-level breaches?

By answering the "why," you have a clear path towards the "what"-the specific things to measure to drive towards that result. It's amazing how many companies invest huge money into a monitoring strategy without being able to say why they're doing it. That's a big reason these projects fail.

VMblog:  One of the top challenges for CIOs today is "managing" the customer experience in a world of digital innovation.  What is your advice for CIOs looking to solve this challenge?

Daoudi:  CIOs are in a unique position to drive digital innovation & transformation. They know the technology, the processes, the security, the data governance. Because they touch all those areas, they can have enormous influence on transforming the customer experience.

The first step in doing that is defining what "customer experience" actually means. Are you looking at external customers? Internal users? Both? What part of the experience are you trying to measure? User satisfaction? Sentiment? Dollars generated through a digital transformation project? Once you've defined the customer experience, you can collect the metrics you need to manage it in better, faster, more cost-effective ways.

The key, and where we see customers having the most success, is always focusing on outcomes. It's not about CPU utilization or memory or other technical measurements. The important question is, can customers do what they want on our site? That's the metric that really matters. Those are the numbers a CIO can take back to the CEO or the board to show how they're affecting the customer experience.

VMblog:  Gartner calls the "Empowered Edge" a strategic technology trend for 2020, predicting it will bring forth a wave of innovation that impacts cloud, artificial intelligence, manufacturing, Smart Cities, autonomous vehicles, and many other areas.  At the same time, it will add complexity and place new pressures on the network.  What are the keys to network resiliency in the era of edge computing?

Daoudi:  When you look at the new experiences on the horizon-connected cars, Smart Cities, AI-for them to work correctly, they all need super low latency. That requirement will drive a lot of innovation at the edge, but it also brings new challenges in service-level management, measurement, and telemetry. How do you monitor things that are traveling at sub-millisecond speeds and faster?

At Catchpoint, we believe that how you monitor is important, but where you monitor is even more important. After all your customers don't live in a data center, they live in Idaho or Paris or Shanghai or wherever. In an Empowered Edge world, that concept becomes even more important. It's why we've invested in deploying our monitoring capabilities in over 850 locations worldwide and growing. We want to be ready for this world where your customers are everywhere, accessing your services from anywhere, and it's all about outcomes.

VMblog:  We are rapidly moving away from single points of customer interaction and towards customer "multiexperience" and omnichannel user interactions. How will this impact the way enterprises manage customer experience?

Daoudi:  The companies that succeed today have a single approach to the customer. They don't see a delineation between a transaction in a store, online, or at a kiosk. Instead, they see a relationship, a history of someone interacting with their products or services, regardless of where they did it. There are great success stories of companies who've made this transition: Best Buy, Ikea, Loreal. It's no accident that these are also the companies that have successfully navigated the huge digital disruptions in the retail space, where a lot of their competitors struggle.

Of course, when you're approaching your customers from an omnichannel perspective, your monitoring strategy has to be able to capture that experience. We apply three basic approaches to do that. First, we do proactive monitoring, using bots to simulate different kinds of user behavior. Then, we perform real user monitoring from hundreds of locations to capture real user interactions. Finally, we're making new investments to capture user sentiment itself, in terms of how people are feeling and what they're saying about their experience with your brand. You put these things together, and you can maintain a holistic view of your customers.

VMblog:  AI holds enormous promise, and the idea of "raw data in, useful business insights out" is very appealing. Yet the reality today is quite different. How do we make AI more useful to the business?

Daoudi:  "AI" is the hot buzzword right now, but the concept behind it-at least, the way most people think about it-isn't all that new. A couple years ago it was "analytics," before that it was "Big Data." Fundamentally, all these things are just about trying to capture data to drive better decisions.

The critical thing to remember is that, no matter how sophisticated an AI capability may be, it's only as useful as the data you're feeding it. Garbage in equals garbage out, and companies forget that at their peril. If your data is wrong, AI or no AI, you're going to make bad decisions.

We spend a lot of time at Catchpoint focusing on data quality. It's why we've made significant investments in our architecture, where we put our nodes, which ISPs we work with, and how we capture the data we use to measure user experience. We want to ensure that when you're taking that data and feeding it into your AI operations systems or analytics applications it's as clean and actionable as possible.

VMblog:  How does Catchpoint deliver value to its clients?

Daoudi:  There are different ways to measure value, but one of the biggest is, have we saved you time? No matter how big your company is, there are only 24 hours in a day, and you can't make more of it. If, through our monitoring capability, we've helped you detect, escalate, validate, and resolve problems more quickly, then we're doing our job.

It's common that I'll go in to meet with a customer, and they'll tell me they had an incident where everyone was running around with their hair on fire and Catchpoint was able to beautifully pinpoint where the problem was so they could resolve it with little or no customer impact. That's when I know we're delivering real, tangible value.

VMblog:  What is next for Catchpoint?

Daoudi:  We're continuing to invest in new ways to more accurately measure and monitor customer experience-whether that's external customers, internal users, or both. We're in the process of overhauling our entire platform with a new UI framework to help our customers capture more data and use that data more quickly and efficiently. We recently added BGP monitoring to our platform, and we're in the process of rolling out new capabilities to capture user sentiment.

Ultimately, our job is shed a light on as many layers of the customer experience as possible, so that when there's a problem, you can quickly get to the bottom of it. We'll continue adding capabilities to peel back more of those layers. Every day, our engineers wake up asking, "How can we save our customers time? What innovations can we bring to the table to help them detect and triage issues more quickly?"


Published Monday, March 09, 2020 10:01 AM by David Marshall
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