In the past three decades, banking has evolved from trips to the local ATM for cash withdrawals or balance inquiries to an incredibly varied array of on-demand services and integrated multichannel capabilities. The task of providing truly successful financial services to consumers has changed radically, with technology holding a more and more central role. Because consumers are able to constantly “plug in” and do banking through multiple devices, banks must have rock solid technology solutions in place to handle the high demands and real-time problems that invariably arise.
Being proactive instead of reactive to the consumer-facing problems is easier said than done.
Using an application performance management (APM) solution can help put companies on the proactive side. But not all solutions are created equal. To truly be proactive, companies need to be able to pinpoint the underperforming area of applications instead of manually piecing together fragmented data that they receive. When consumers experience an IT issue, they do not get angry with the slow server or wonder if it is their own carrier; they automatically get angry at the company. Being able to quickly isolate the exact problem will not only speed up the resolution, but it will also protect against the negative impact on operational efficiency and allay the consumer’s negative reaction towards the company.
About Transaction Junction
Transaction Junction, a transaction-processing and management consulting firm, was in need of a tool that provided it just that. Transaction Junction’s business is divided between electronic funds transfer (EFT) processing and switching, and its value-added services (VAS) processing, which includes private-label loyalty cards, closed-loop credit cards, lotto ticketing, bill payment, prepaid electricity and prepaid mobile-airtime transactions.
As the VAS side of the business continues to expand, Transaction Junction has put a far greater onus on monitoring the performance and availability of its service suppliers. Revenues accruing from product sales are quickly on the rise for many of their customers. If a supplier connection fails, it usually results in a direct loss and a very dissatisfied customer, which is why the company employed a real-time solution that gave it a proactive edge, enabled by INETCO Systems Limited.
The Importance of Syncing Business and Technical Requirements
Every company must address both business and technical requirements when assessing an APM solution. Naturally the focus will stray to the technical side, but when it comes to the bottom-line requirement, a no-hassle customer experience is the most important. That means that while a company is compiling its list of requirements for an APM solution, it needs to realize that these technical requirements are synced with the business needs. Specifically, Transaction Junction had a list of particular expectations.
Transaction Junction wanted the ability to proactively recognize when operational issues are causing degradation of customer services; demonstrate more-secure and more-reliable transaction-management services than any other third-party switch provider; and reduce the amount of time, labor and tools involved in system troubleshooting and problem isolation.
For its technical requirements, the company wanted to establish a single operational view into the transaction environment that reflects the customer experience—without having to deploy agents, extra traffic loads or code changes. It also wanted to continuous monitoring and alerts on specific elements contained inside the application message; immediate identification of network components or third-party connections that drop services or do not respond; bridge the information gap between network information and application performance data; and capture and decode a diverse range of transaction protocols, including XML, ISO 8583, Base 24, AEON and proprietary message formats.
The Business Solution
Transaction Junction was able to fulfill its requirements through INETCO’s APM solution, INETCO Insight. Employed in 2012, the agentless software enabled IT operations, application support and help-desk teams to analyze real-time transaction performance by customers and authorization hosts, and to share common visibility into performance issues that are affecting customer-service delivery.
Transaction Junction adopted the INETCO Insight alerting capabilities as a part of its daily operational process. These real-time alerts contain relevant response codes and timing information that quickly indicate what type of event is degrading the customer experience, the severity of the issue and who is responsible for it. Alerts are also configured around specific elements contained in the application message, and they include warnings of authorization-host or switch-connection timeouts, message-format errors, database errors, network availability issues, cryptographic errors, and supplier-offline or product-not-available scenarios—information that previously took hours of manual labor time, multiple tools and endless finger-pointing exercises to access and piece together.
INETCO Insight further speeds up troubleshooting by automatically linking an alert to the individual transactions that triggered it. Transaction Junction gains access to comprehensive profiles of hop-by-hop response timing, network performance metrics and application message information for each transaction. This unique ability to bridge the gap between network-related information and application information has resulted in significant efficiency gains and improved customer-service uptime.
The Business Impact of APM
But truly addressing customer needs is not centered on technology. It is centered on the customer and the business impact that results from the customer’s experience. With its APM solution, Transaction Junction was able to do the following:
Improve Customer Experience
It was able to establish an operational view of the transactional environment that reflected the customer experience and extend performance visibility to include identification of specific issues with transactions, customers, terminals or host connections causing the degradation of customer services, as well as demonstrate a commitment to secure, reliable service delivery and a level of control over the network that differentiates it from other third-party switch providers.
Focus on Operational Efficiency
The company bridged the gap between network and application information, streamlining the system troubleshooting processes to one person and one tool in a matter of minutes. It also provided IT operations, application support and help-desk teams with shared visibility into real-time transactions grouped by customer and authorization host systems. In addition, it gained easy access to relevant transactional data profiles that backed up performance-issue claims and reduced finger-pointing scenarios with internal teams, suppliers and customers.
Demonstrate Proactive Problem Resolution Without Agents, Code Changes or Extra Traffic Load
Transaction Junction monitored specific elements contained in the application message to identify issues before the customer can. It also collected and correlated information for both the request and response time legs of each transaction to speed up the identification of transactions taking longer than the average service-level processing time. The company was also able to create a response code and sensitivity alerts that flagged degradation issues on the internal system or a partner system before full system failures, such as when transactions for an identified customer or authorization host are being declined, a certain number of transactions are expected but not reached for a set period of time and an authorization host is taking longer than a specified average to respond.
Although every transaction-based company’s dream is to have a flawless end-customer experience, that is not always possible. But Transaction Junction was able to improve customer efficiency, focus on operational efficiency and demonstrate proactive problem resolution through its INETCO Insight APM solution. Not only has it been able to save time and effort from the IT side to end-customer experience, it is also able to demonstrate to clients a commitment to secure, reliable service delivery.
Image courtesy of Suradnik13