It’s Time for a New Job Category – Performance Management Engineers

By Charbel Khneisser, VP Solutions Engineering, EMEA, at Riverbed Technology.

Today, we no longer have the luxury of broad expertise. Even within the same domain, knowledge has become specific to technology, and indeed versions of that technology. Given the wide range of systems now used by organisations, the lack of experts with a top-line understanding across all of these means insight is falling between the gaps. And with it the potential for businesses to maximise use of their IT and improve operations.

This is nowhere more evident than in performance management. An increasing number of companies have invested in technology that offers them data on how their networks and applications are performing, with the potential for end-user experiences to be optimised and better services to be delivered to customers. The challenge is that many of these organisations are unable to consume the telemetry properly and turn it into actionable insights because they lack the expertise to analyse the input. The solution? Introducing a new class of employee.

Introducing the performance management engineer

In today’s complex technological world, it’s clear that the need has never been greater for employees capable of, and dedicated to, reading, understanding, and improving performance management. And analysing it as it relates to the end-user, independent of understanding the systems themselves.

With a new kind of IT employee in place – performance management engineers – companies will be empowered to transform their operations. For example, traditionally, IT staff were assigned to conducting network analysis when there was a specific issue that needed to be resolved. However, with dedicated experts carrying out ongoing monitoring, businesses can minimise time to resolution when challenges emerge, by shifting from a reactive to proactive approach.

This is because time to resolution is made up of four key factors – mean time to know there’s an issue, mean time to identify where the problem is coming from, mean time to fix it, and mean time to verify the fix. To date, organisations have had the talent to address the third factor – resolving the

problem – but not to tackle the other three elements. With performance management engineers in place, capable of reading telemetry across the whole network in real-time, this will no longer be the case as they will have the expertise to deliver on all four areas. Not only will this reduce downtime, with positive knock-on effects for staff and customers, but it will also save money. The time to resolve an issue is fixed, but the mean times to know, locate and verify can be reduced, unlocking efficiency with its cost-saving benefits. What’s more, if you can eliminate the time to know there’s a problem, you’re able to take a preventative approach, meaning the entire issue could be avoided and the cost of impact brought down to zero.

The role of universities and companies

The value of performance management engineers is self-evident but making them a common fixture in every business’ IT team will require a change in approach by both companies and universities.

To build the talent pipeline, it will be essential for universities to update their courses to include a focus on performance management, rather than continuing to bill everything around technology topics on specific domains. In practice, this will mean giving students the right foundation to understand key concepts across the board so they can be polished from a performance perspective. For instance, arming them with the ability to understand the basics of coding (without having to be an expert) and giving them the analytical skills to assimilate knowledge and understand the outcomes so they can effectively analyse application performance problems.

In tandem, organisations need to evolve their mindsets to appreciate that what employees need is the right knowledge base to evolve from, as the specific skills their staff require will constantly change. With this understanding in place, the value of introducing performance management engineers can be truly appreciated.

Tackling the great resignation

Beyond improving network and application performance, introducing a new category of employee could help businesses stave off the impacts of the great resignation. Notably, by offering staff the intellectual growth and strong financial remuneration to keep them motivated and retained.

To dive deeper into the first element, it’s undeniable that in the last couple of years there’s been a boom in innovation. However, IT staff have not been equipped with the skills needed to keep pace with this, due to a lack of time and investment being dedicated to training, as they were focused on

firefighting issues instead. By offering IT employees the opportunity and training to become performance management engineers, companies will provide them with new career opportunties. What’s more, moving into this role will turn staff into a more highly valuable resource with an attached monetary benefit for them.

The investment will be worth the payoff

Introducing a new category of employee dedicated to performance management will never be an overnight job. It will require universities and organisations to take active steps to cultivate this new group and prepare for their introduction to the workforce. Furthermore, if this effort is made, companies will be empowered to dramatically improve their network and application performance and achieve significant business benefits. These will range from greater employee and customer experiences, to reduced IT costs and an even better retention of employees. With this in mind, it’s time we pushed the button on introducing performance management engineers.

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