Research firm delves into a new area of enterprise software: passive desktop agents.
Posted Oct 22, 2007
Monitoring and performance management is hardly a new market, but industry analysis firm Forrester Research has now carved out a subsegment of that space -- Passive End User Experience Monitoring -- and deemed it worthy of separate assessment. As a result, the firm has launched a new Forrester Wave, noting that most performance management vendors have relatively old products or are very application-specific. This new Wave addresses broad-based, passive technologies that can provide feedback on how individual users interact with applications, regardless of environment, in a form that is useful both to IT personnel and line managers.
The CRM value of these applications -- all of which focus on internal rather than customer-facing processes -- is clear for anyone who has interacted with a customer service or sales representative saddled with computer errors, the need to re-enter data, or a necessary workaround. Fixing that employee's user experience ultimately results not only in greater efficiency, but also improved customer interaction.
The field, as Forrester presents it, is sparse and closely competitive. Only four companies appear in the Wave at all, each close to the other in the Leaders section. The overall leader is Knoa Software with its Experience and Performance Manager (EPM) product, according to report author Jean-Pierre Garbani, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester. "The company's key aim is to provide a technology that is able to cover all the potential needs of an IT organization in terms of end user experience measurement," he writes in the report.
"EPM captures every error, including the error messages generated when a user makes a mistake -- not a problem where the designer is concerned, but a problem with end-user experience," says Lori Wizdo, vice president of marketing at Knoa. Because Knoa EPM details how end users are accessing applications, she says, it is "the only monitoring technology designed to collect, analyze, and report the metrics needed to simultaneously drive IT performance and corporate performance."
Knoa has competition, though. In particular, Forrester rates Serden Technologies higher in terms of strategy, though the firm puts Serden's current offering slightly behind Knoa's in terms of tehcnology and market share. "Serden's Interact ES is an intelligent agent that can be deployed with an N-tier reporting server for large-scale implementations," Garbani writes. "The agent is maintenance-free and does not require any preconfiguration."
The other two entrants in the inaugural Wave are Symphoniq and PremiTech. Symphoniq TrueView is aimed at problem resolution for Web-based applications, according to the report. "Consequently, the agent is lightweight and downloaded through a Web page," Garbani writes. "The data the agent provides is correlated with data provided by the different components of a Web application--such as the Web server and application server--to provide a 360-degree view of the application."
While Symphoniq's market share is comparable to Serden's, PremiTech's presence is on par with that of Knoa, according to the report. PremiTech Performance Guard began life as an app for Citrix users, Garbani writes, but the target market changed when Citrix acquired PremiTech competitor Reflectent Software. "PremiTech has now adopted a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, with a streamlined implementation and set-up to support it," he writes. "Reporting is done though HTML, with a major bias toward problem-solving and performance root-cause analysis."
In summary, Garbani writes that the technologies used by these companies are more or less equivalent, and the major differences lie in the way they report information. "Focusing this evaluation on small creative vendors dedicated to passive agent experience monitoring as opposed to large multifarious enterprises allows us to examine the space's most innovative and generic technologies and leads us to a more balanced comparison."
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