The greater reliance on digital infrastructure in Southeast Asia has undoubtedly augmented the need for observability among Southeast Asian enterprises. Organizations across different industries rely on observability tools to deliver better customer experiences despite the increasing complexities of their IT systems.

However, the current economic climate and tightened IT spending can be a barrier to achieving full-stack, end-to-end observability.

The business benefits of technology are often hard to quantify, especially to the C-suites who see it as another line item on an annual budget. With pressure to cut costs mounting, the benefits of our highly technical, infrastructure-oriented products may not seem as obvious to less technical leaders.

High ROI from observability

The key to making the business case for observability lies in understanding how observability plays a pivotal role in digital transformation and driving the customer experience.

New Relic’s 2023 Observability Forecast finds markets in ASEAN achieve remarkably high ROIs on observability.  Indonesia and Singapore both had a median annual ROI of 167 percent—the highest of any other country. The median annual ROI in Malaysia was above average at 133%, while Thailand broke even.

It’s no wonder that observability advocacy was so high among the C-suite in particular. Notably, 82 percent of technical-focused C-suites while 74 percent for the less technical-focused C-suites found value in observability. The majority of the C-suite respondents (85%) see observability as a key enabler to achieving core business goals to some degree.

Despite the ROI value, the same research found that more than a third (36%) planned to reduce spending across the board.

Maximizing the business value of observability

While observability remains a top priority for technical-focused leaders, C-suites require a reframing of the ROI conversation to fully recognize the other benefits of observability.

Observability provides a connected, real-time view of all data from different sources in one place where teams can collaborate to troubleshoot and resolve problems faster, prevent issues from occurring, ensure operational efficiency, and produce high-quality software that promotes an optimal customer and user experience.

By offering different teams and functions complete visibility, observability enables them to scale their systems based on how and where traffic is moving to, without compromising performance, cost, or the end-user experience. It creates a single source of truth based on real-time data, with enhanced system resilience and the ability to ensure peak demand performance. This naturally accelerates application modernization and improves the user experience.

Re-engineering the benefits of observability

To better prove the ROI of observability software to the business, here are some of the key considerations in articulating the value proposition.

  • Share the data: Teams and business leaders should be required to openly share the data and insights from observability. This way, the organization extends best practices across the organization and develops benchmarks to compare the relative performance of different units and platforms.
  • Monitor the things customers care about: Dashboards should be tracking the metrics that surface performance issues so teams can identify and proactively respond to any problems before they impact customers. The better the customer experience, the more impact it will have on the bottom line and leadership priorities. New Relic’s research reveals that 54% found that observability improves revenue retention while 41% said it helps business and/or revenue growth.
  • Align KPIs to business value: While IT Ops teams measure the performance of observability against the traditional metrics such as uptime and mean-time-to-repair, business leaders need to see the direct impact on the company’s overall business, such as visibility into customer satisfaction and dollars-and-cents metrics. Adjust users’ key performance indicators (KPIs) to reflect these business-related goals to make observability data relevant to the bottom line.
  • Factor in engineer productivity: Organisations gauge the value of enterprise software by the impact it has on the performance and quality of operations but forget to factor in whether it helps developers accomplish those goals more efficiently. Data found that operational efficiency and increased productivity were some of the many positive business outcomes of full-stack observability.

Uncovering the true business value of an optimal observability practice requires time and collaboration across the organization. However, if IT teams can make a high-level case that speaks the same language and demonstrates the KPIs prioritized by a CFO or CTO, the organizations are poised for gains on returns on investment, not to mention improved software and services that they deliver to customers daily.

Kris Day is Senior Vice President, APJ at New Relic. and has

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