Q&A: Colin Rowland, OpTier

OpTier’s Business Transaction Management solution (OpTier BTM) enables business application owners to take control over service performance and availability. OpTier BTM has been designed to assure the quick and successful execution of all business transactions, by managing every step of every transaction in order to eliminate outages and effectively manage change and improve end-user experience. We spoke to the company’s SVP Sales, EMEA, to find out more.

Can you give us a top-line overview of OpTier?

OpTier helps businesses make the most out of IT. Our solutions help business application owners to take control over service performance and availability. Visibility gained from OpTier solutions helps to eliminate outages, effectively manage change and improve end-user experience.

How does it differ from other IT management software companies?

Business Transaction Management (BTM) is a completely different way of monitoring and managing IT. For years IT management was siloed and complicated. If a company implemented a new business intelligence system, it also found itself purchasing a new solution to monitor the systems performance.

This created a very complex IT environment and increasingly the amount of time and money companies spent identifying and resolving IT problems escalated. The primary reason for this was that they had no end-to-end enterprise-wide view. Whilst IT was searching for the perennial needle in a haystack, the resulting downtime was costing business thousands, if not more.

OpTier approaches IT management from a completely different standpoint. We believe that transactions are where IT and the business meet. It’s this paradigm shift in thinking that enabled us to deliver the industry’s first BTM solution. With a fast-growing list of Global 2000 customers, we continue to be a leader in the field. OpTier’s Business Transaction Management solution offers complete end-to-end service management, from the end-user, cross-application, across the data centre and also in the cloud.

What are business transactions and why is visibility into them important?

Put simply, a business transaction is an interaction between a customer, employee or partner and business IT systems. An interaction could be a trade, a balance inquiry, an online purchase or customer service request.

Visibility into transactions makes it possible to monitor and manage service quality levels for users conducting them. Visibility is important as both business and IT managers need to know which services are being consumed, by whom, and how quickly. Additionally, IT managers need to know which components participated in the service delivery and their effect on the shared infrastructure.

Managing the end-user experience is becoming increasingly important. Why is that?

Poor end-user experience can lead to a loss of sales, impact brand experience and reduce productivity. Regardless of whether your end user is a member of staff or a consumer, IT decision makers need more sophisticated end-to-end application performance visibility and analysis to keep up with increasingly dynamic IT environments.

The fact is the end-user experience impacts businesses at all levels, but most organisations are unaware of how they can improve it in order to grow their bottom line. Understanding how this can be proactively improved allows organisations to be more flexible and dynamic. After all, if you don’t know what you’re dealing with, how can you solve it? Information gives businesses the ability to change their outlook and help them deliver a better service.

Which vertical markets would this play out in?

Effective IT management is something that every organisation, regardless of the industry they operate in, will derive real value from. Benefits of being aware of transactions and application performance are particularly obvious in the financial industry, where efficiency and security are preeminent. In other industries, like retail and telecoms, as well as the financial industry, online customer service is becoming increasingly important.

No matter where they are, consumers can go online to shop, check their bank balance or pay their utility bill. With this new convenience comes the expectation that the websites they are accessing work every time, whether they are using a phone or computer. In this day and age, not living up to customers’ online expectations will have a negative impact upon a businesses bottom line.

By having visibility into business transactions, organisations have the end-to-end control and transparency they need to deliver excellent services and products to consumers in the way that they want to access them.

How do UK businesses compare internationally in terms of online customer service standards?

For the telco industry specifically, we recently did some research and found that although people in the UK are increasingly disposed towards accessing operator services online, almost two thirds stated that their operator was unable to support tasks they wanted to perform.

The study also found that Brits are lagging behind the US in terms of engaging with mobile operators online and the use of rich media content on their phones. US mobile users are three times more likely to pay their bill online and compared with 48% of Americans, just 21% of Brits use their phone to access real-time entertainment. It isn’t hard to imagine the trends being true for other industries too. ( Do we want to link to the other release where there is more of this data?)

Lots of legacy IT infrastructure creates a situation where we have no visibility into IT and organisations have a hard time offering the same services as those available elsewhere in the world. Visibility across a siloed IT system is one way to remedy that.

What does the future hold for business transaction management and how can it help businesses prepare their IT to capitalise on new technology?

There’s been a lot of talk about the importance of aligning the business with IT. But now, with the emergence of cloud models, organisations face an ultimatum; IT needs to upgrade to a business-centric service delivery function or it will be replaced by outsourced cloud service providers that can provide utility computing services with greater cost efficiencies.

For organisations choosing the latter, Business Transaction Management helps businesses harness the potential of the cloud, by helping to effectively plan for and manage cloud services from a business perspective.

And finally, on a personal level, what piece of new technology can you not live without?

For me, it is all about the iPad. It is a multifunctional tool that is indispensable on the road. With its large display, reading emails on the go is a much more pleasant experience than squinting at your smart phone. Once I get to client meetings, I can easily showcase screenshots of product dashboards or present documents. And then, at the end of a long day, I can plug in some headphones and relax with a movie. It’s the perfect gadget for the digital world.

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Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years' publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.