Why actionable data is worth its weight in gold and more from our Tech Leaders' Tour

| 5 min. (902 words)

The Tech Leaders’ Tour is a series of events bringing tech leaders together to learn from each other about improving software quality and customer experience.

We’ll be coming to a town near you soon! Express your interest here.


Monitoring today is more complex and nebulous than ever before. Teams have to deal with barriers like tooling, data overwhelm, and process problems making it difficult to get a clear line of communication from code to customer.

In our Portland Tech Leaders’ event, our seasoned host Scott Hanselman, Partner Program Manager at Microsoft, takes us on a deep dive into how our experienced panel use tools, processes, and agile workflows to overcome these hurdles to create world-class software.

Watch the full panel below.

Together, this skilled group of tech leaders represents over 100 years of software experience. Here’s what they had to say on monitoring what matters.

On the Cloud, DevOps, and what’s next: “Technology has changed. It’s made efficiency easier, but there’s a fundamental shift in tech with regards to business. When it comes to trends, people are kicking dirt over the line when it comes to IT and business - we’re not service providers anymore, we are business partners. We are proving value overall to give customers something that is compelling.” - Jon Edwards, IT Director, Infrastructure and Operations at the Standard

On communication: “Everyone expects those things to work all the time at 100%. One of the things I noticed from the management side is that people didn’t necessarily understand what that really meant. (To me), at least 95% of your customers should be having the best experience.” - Kathy Lee, Software Engineer at Microsoft

On determining the levels of monitoring sophistication: “Start with the basic top-down question of ‘how do I monitor customer experience.’ Then, go ground-up - infrastructure, network, cloud. If someone’s having a bad experience, and it’s not performing properly, how do I get to the root cause of that quickly?” - Niamh Cahill, Solutions Architect Manager at Chef Software

On being able to fix issues quickly: “It’s about making sure that the information gets back to the developers who are able to make those changes and giving them ownership to apply those changes.” Brian Brewer Specialist in Product Quality Management, Test Engineering, and DevOps at Nike

On monitoring models: “Of the many of the companies I work with, only 50% have monitoring. It’s like driving around with no seatbelt. Or, they have so much data that they just ignore it. So I see two models - starvation and obesity”. -Dave Harrison, Senior Application Development Manager at Microsoft

On error monitoring: “I did implement Raygun on my iOS apps. When a user hits a crash, those crashes get centralized into one location and bucketed automatically. I would get a call stack and a line number where things were crashing. It felt to me that I got a gift from my customer in the form of a bug report.” Scott Hanselman, moderator and Partner Program Manager at Microsoft

More key takeaways to share

All companies are software companies

Tech leaders are in an empowering position where they are the center for their company’s innovation and a key driver of business outcomes. Therefore, as an IT leader, you must have a seat at the executive table. The challenge is communication and tying engineering effort to business outcomes. The panel agreed that the best way to do this is to start with the exec team’s objectives. From there, use customer feedback to understand the key indicators of success. (This topic was talked about extensively in our Seattle Tech Leaders’ Panel.)

There is too much data

We can measure everything, which leads to too much data and loss of inertia. Therefore, actionable data is becoming worth its weight in gold. Where monitoring is concerned, prioritization is easier when the focus is on customer experience. Scott says that software tools will help surface this information faster, and uses Raygun’s error grouping feature as an example.

Monitoring is just the beginning

Once teams start surfacing errors, it leads to better performance practices. Monitoring has layers of sophistication, but that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult to implement. Dave recommends some further reading on the topic; the books Measure What Matters, by John Doerr, and Practical Monitoring, by Mike Julian. Dave also covers monitoring in his book, Achieving DevOps.

To wrap up, monitoring needs are evolving

Portland’s panel placed emphasis on the importance of communicating the dollar value of technology to the executive team - and one way to do that is to use monitoring metrics like server response time to measure customer satisfaction.

Make sure to watch the full panel, and express your interest in the next event.

Get a rare glimpse at how companies like Alexa, Nike, Microsoft, AWS, Tableau Software, Raygun, The Standard, Xero, Vend, and PushPay monitor software quality with our Tech Leaders’ Tour panel.

Watch the recaps here:

  • Auckland panel - Xero, Vend, and PushPay on prioritizing user experience during the development workflow.
  • Wellington panel - Trade Me, Xero, Raygun, and Sharesies on maintaining an excellent standard of software quality.
  • Seattle panel - Amazon Alexa, Tableau, AWS, and Raygun cover customer feedback mechanisms for better quality software.