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How to Get a Seat at the Table with Business iQ Visualizations

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Summary
Fast and easy Business iQ visualizations demonstrate the critical role of IT metrics to business decision-makers. Read on to learn more.

In an era of software-driven business, there is no doubt that IT deserves a seat at the table with top business decision-makers. But how do you quickly convince the Business that IT is about more than servers and software? One way to demonstrate the critical role IT metrics play in business decisions is to simply click over to the Analytics tab of your AppDynamics screen. If you are new to Analytics you may be surprised by the powerful visualizations that are available out of the box.

For example, if you are an eCommerce firm, you can quickly learn the overall Conversion Rate as well as the percent of “Abandoners” for each step of your customers’ Check Out Journey, simply by utilizing the Funnel Widget:

If you are an insurance company, you could learn the “health” of every step of your on-line Customer Journeys by product:

If you are a travel agency, you will be able to visualize your revenue stream by customer segment and see the impact of defective transactions by location:

Some have gotten the impression, based in part on their experience with other business intelligence tools, that getting real, actionable business information from their IT systems will require a major investment of time. They worry about the steps it takes to extract business data from within their technical systems. What they don’t realize is that a lot of this work is done by AppDynamics out of the box. This is especially true when you leverage Business iQ on top of our core APM and EUM offerings.

I’ll show you how easy this is. Let’s walk through examples of some correlated business and performance information you can learn just by playing around with the visualization widgets.In these examples we’ll focus on e-commerce, but you can easily imagine relevant business metrics for your own use case.

If you place APM metrics, like Average Response Time and/or Number of Errors, next to the sequential order of customer events, you can better understand what is the business impact of your performance problems.

Or you can also try placing a funnel with Conversion Rates with the Abandoners numbers for all major steps in your Customer Journeys just below the “overall health” of every step of their respective business journeys (represented by the rows of circles):

A little more advanced “play” can involve ADQL (AppDynamics Query Language) queries, creating metrics for the ADQL queries’ search results and Health Rules for those metrics.

Let us start with the ADQL queries. In the Controller UI, go to Analytics > Searches and create the required ADQL queries, for example:

-What is the number of Unique Visitors?

SELECT distinctcount(segments.userData.SessionID) FROM transactions WHERE application = "eCommerce"

-What is the number successful Orders Placed?

SELECT count(*) FROM transactions WHERE application = "eCommerce" AND transactionName = "CheckOut" AND userExperience != "ERROR"

-What is the total amount of Revenue?

SELECT sum(segments.userData.ProductPrice) FROM transactions WHERE application = "eCommerce" AND transactionName = "CheckOut"

-What is the total amount of Revenues at risk?

SELECT sum(segments.userData.ProductPrice) FROM transactions WHERE application = "eCommerce" AND transactionName = "CheckOut" AND userExperience = "ERROR"

Save the most interesting ADQL queries search results so that you can create metrics that are updated in near real time. In the Controller UI, click over to Analytics > Metrics and then simply create from your saved queries. E.g.:

-> # of Orders Placed Metric
-> # of Unique Visitors Metric
-> Check Out Total Processed Metric
-> Check Out Total Revenues at Risk Metric

Use a time series graph chart widget and “Check Out Total Processed Metric” data to visualize the total amount of Revenue trend over time. Notice that you can include a dynamic baseline so that your thresholds are based on average behaviour, calculated hour by hour for a given time period

(i.g. Daily Trend, Weekly Trend, Monthly Trend etc.). Using the baseline helps you to find an answer to the following question: Is the total amount of Revenue normal at the given hour?

Now you may wish to create Health Rules for the remaining business metrics so you can visualize them and receive alerts in the same way you would for your technical performance metrics. In the Controller UI, go to Analytics > Alert & Respond > Health Rules and create your Health Rules for the new business metrics. We’ll use static thresholds here for simplicity, but again dynamic baselines are likely the better way to go for your use-case.

-eComm – Orders lower than expected:

Critical condition: # of Orders Placed < 700
Warning condition: # of Orders Placed < 800

-eComm – Unique Visitors lower than expected

Critical condition: # of Unique Visitors < 10
Warning condition: # of Unique Visitors < 60

-eComm – Check Out Processed lower than expected

Critical condition: Check Out Total Processed < 200
Warning condition: Check Out Total Processed < 100

-eComm – Revenues at risk higher than expected

Critical condition: ({RevenuesAtRisk}/{CheckOutTotalProcessed}*100) > 10 (%)
Warning condition: ({RevenuesAtRisk}/{CheckOutTotalProcessed}*100) > 2 (%)

Now you can create and link some Health Status widgets with the relative Health Rules:

And finally you can put all of your interesting components together in Dashboards, for example:

Refer to the AppDynamics documentation for more ideas on ways to explore your data.

It doesn’t take long to create these kinds of visualizations, but the insight you can offer to your business leaders is incredibly powerful. As you get comfortable using these basic building blocks you will see opportunities to assemble them into more complex analyses such as business health, the steps of the business journey, performance by segment, and more.

Learn more about Business iQ and how it can give you a seat at the table.

Krzysztof Gawronski is part of AppDynamics Global Services team, which is dedicated to helping enterprises realize the value of business and application performance monitoring. AppDynamics’ Global Services’ consultants, architects, and project managers are experts in unlocking the cross-stack intelligence needed to improve business outcomes and increase organizational efficiency.