Jump to main Nav

The latest blog

Stuck for visibility

I’m writing this while stuck in a lift (an elevator, for US readers). Seriously. I’ve never been stuck in one before but this one moved about three feet and then stopped. I’ve been here for forty minutes, in the Novotel at Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris.

It’s pretty exciting: I got to press the ‘Emergency’ button, which I’ve often looked at but never pressed before. Clearly, many small children have not shared my reservations and have pressed it mercilessly over the years, so that when it came to my turn a weary voice mumbled ‘Yeah…’ and then hung up before I could explain my problem. Twice.

So here I sit. Ironically, there’s great Wifi signal here so I can surf and blog. And look up the phone number for the hotel and call them on my mobile, and tell the switchboard about my problem, which I imagine isn’t the emergency process the management intended but will hopefully work.

‘Hopefully’ is the key word here, because I don’t know what’s happening or if anyone is actually on their way with a large screwdriver (it feels like there should be some complex, expensive tool that’s used to release a sealed lift door, but somehow I just know it will be a large screwdriver). And I got to thinking about that in terms of IT Visibility.

Occasionally, partners get scared at the amount of visibility our Highlight service gives their Enterprise customers. It’s such a clear picture, and it’s used by such a wide range of people in the business. Who’d want to give the Head of IT, the CFO, and the Commercial Manager in a major client, real-time visibility of your Service Levels, good and bad? But surprisingly, good visibility is a positive, not a negative. It turns out people are much more relaxed about problems if they have visibility of the issues, can understand their scope and can see things being fixed. It’s sitting in the dark not knowing, that creates stress and that stream of phone calls along the lines of ‘is it back up yet?’ If I knew someone was coming to help me, and roughly when they’d arrive, I’d feel much more comfortable.

When Amazon’s Web Services failed recently, the main criticism afterwards was not how long it took to fix things, but how little information users got on how the repairs were going. Highlight users know they’re seeing, and understanding, a true picture of how their IT and services are behaving, as a real-time picture, and historically. They know whether this application really has been consistently slow this month, or whether it just seems that way and actually this is a one-off. And if they do need to make a phone call, they know the person they’re talking to is looking at the same picture on their screen and trusting it. Our partners find they get fewer phone calls, not more, because an informed user is a more relaxed user, and one they’ll have a better relationship with.

Thump, click. The doors slide open, and it’s three nervously smiling French hotel staff. And one large screwdriver. Gotcha.