Thursday, October 11, 2012

Who cares about application analytics? Lots of people for lots of reasons…

The results are coming in from our most recent survey on the current state of application lifecycle management and the use of application analytics.

Most everyone agrees that analytics are powerful - it's why they're powerful that gets interesting. 77% of development and their management identified “insight into production application usage” as influential, important or essential to their work, and 71% identified “near real-time notification of unhandled, caught, and/or thrown exceptions” in the same way (other choices were “moderately important" and "no importance"). 

…but where specifically do application analytics have the greatest impact?

Usage, behavior and patterns

Figure 1: Where does insight into production application usage matter? (click to expand)

Developers need to know where and how to prioritize the work that’s right in front of them and nothing makes supporting users more straightforward than having direct insight into what they’ve been doing in production.  

While third in the cumulative vote count, Product planning was ranked 1st in the “essential” categorization. If you don’t know what’s happening around you, there’s no way you can confidentially plan for the future.

Unhandled, thrown and caught exceptions

Figure 2: Where does insight into production incidents (all manner of exception) matter? (click to expand)

Not surprisingly, everyone can agree that insight into exceptions and failures in production provide critical insight into how future iterations of an application should be tested. The fact that 22% of respondents did NOT see exception analytics as being at least influential in customer support is somewhat surprising and will be the subject of future analysis – however, one potential explanation may lie in the obstacles development organizations face (or perceive) in actually implementing true feedback-driven customer support and development processes.

What’s getting in the way?

When comparing usage versus exception monitoring, respondents are mostly consistent in their ranking of obstacles – in fact, the consistency is striking when you consider the divergence in ranking of use cases across these two categories (usage versus exception monitoring). 
Figure 3: What are the obstacles preventing development organizations from implementing effective application analytics solutions today? (click to expand)

While specific numbers vary somewhat, development, product owners and management focus first on security and privacy concerns (see my last post) – followed closely by performance and stability – let’s call that Quality with a capital “q” and “Lack of Best Practices,” which is understandable as application analytics is only now emerging alongside new platforms, tools and methodologies.

PreEmptive Solutions and Application Analytics

What the respondents’ agreement in “obstacles” also indicates is that it should be possible for a single technology solution combined with appropriate processes and patterns designed to address these obstacles to meet the user and organizational requirements across all of these use cases and scenarios.  …and, coincidentally that is exactly what PreEmptive Analytics has been built to accomplish.

For more information on PreEmptive Analytics, visit

For an article I wrote for MSDN and the launch of Visual Studio 2012, checkout Application Analytics, what every developer should know.

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