How to unlock the power of observability for your business

  • Application Development
  • Michael Maas
  • 2022
  • EMEA Insights
28 October 2022

Observability: a woman looking at a computer screen displaying graphs

No organisation can afford to achieve anything less than its full potential. Yet, we constantly see companies across the globe allow vital data and analytics to be wasted—remaining inaccessible or locked away within complex, clunky silos.

How can we resolve this problem and empower companies to free and take control of their data, making their own technology more efficient and generating revenue in the process? The answer is simple: Embrace observability.

Introducing fully integrated observability into a business can be revolutionary. Nobody knows this better than Ben Sigelman, observability expert and co-founder and general manager of Lightstep from ServiceNow.

Having co-created several highly innovative tracing systems, including OpenTelemetry, Sigelman is a leading voice in the field of observability. He has a particular interest in microservices that involve high transaction volumes and large engineering organisations.

Sigelman recently joined us to chat about the benefits of observability and how this kind of technology can revolutionise modern processes.

What do we mean by observability? 

The term “observability solutions” has been bandied around the technology sector for a while now, but what it actually means can be summed up simply. Observability solutions allow customers to make their own digital products faster, more reliable, and easier to understand. 

With observability, businesses are able to handle large quantities of data, analyse it successfully, and make better informed decisions.

Sigelman explains: “Imagine you’re driving a car with an autopilot function. While that car ‘drives itself,’ it’s actually processing an incredible amount of data every split second simply to ensure it stays in the right lane or at the right speed. But as the driver, you don’t see this. What you see is a digestible summary of this data in the form of insights on your dashboard.”      

How observability helps solve key business challenges

Traditionally, it’s been difficult to extract high-quality data from applications. Without observability, solution developers spend a huge chunk of time fishing data out of apps when they could be doing far more high-value tasks.

What’s more, this data is often sought out only after an incident has occurred, meaning companies are operating on a reactive basis and wasting valuable time.

Observability solutions can retrieve this data automatically. This means those who need the data—chiefly teams responsible for observability, those driving cloud-based transformation initiatives, and engineers on cloud-native apps—can get large amounts of data quicker, often before an incident occurs. 

The impact of observability solutions

In what other ways can this technology provide value for organisations?  Essentially, companies can operate more efficiently, analyse data in real time, and respond faster to critical issues—which is more important than ever in today’s uncertain landscape.

For organisations shifting toward cloud-native technology stacks, this technology is invaluable.

Sigelman gave us one example of the benefits in action. “In the past, I worked with an organisation within the financial services industry that had been operating for years on internal applications that were notoriously difficult to make sense of—especially when parts break, which was the case in this instance.      

“Using better observability solutions, they were able to investigate all possible data signals and find the root cause of the problem in just 90 seconds. Without this capability, it would have taken over four hours.”    

Similarly, by leveraging Lightstep solutions, industrial software company Cognite is able to resolve issues faster, proactively optimise system performance, and gain complete visibility into its service dependencies.

It’s not just about unlocking data to make better decisions; it’s about saving valuable time and resources, which in turn can free you and your employees to focus on other areas of the business, such as innovation or growth.

The future of observability

According to the World Economic Forum, Benelux and the Nordics are the most innovative economies in the world. Only further innovation can keep them at the front of the pack.  

In a highly competitive and often unstable economic landscape, observability will only become more important, especially as more and more companies become digitally native.

Observability technologies are key to easing the workload on engineers and IT specialists, making it easier to simultaneously improve existing systems and focus on innovation initiatives—quickly and cost-effectively.

Find out how observability solutions can help your business.  

© 2022 ServiceNow, Inc. All rights reserved. ServiceNow, the ServiceNow logo, Now, and other ServiceNow marks are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of ServiceNow, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. Other company names, product names, and logos may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are associated.


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