These days it seems like every vendor is slapping a "DEM" label on their product.  It's definitely true that you have a lot of options when it comes to Digital Experience Monitoring. To complicate your decision further, many vendors are deeply rooted in concepts they have used for a very long time.  Not only must you find the vendor that best fits your company, you'll likely be making a choice between monitoring methodologies used by vendors self-identifying as Microsoft Office 365 digital experience monitoring. This is no easy task. 

And let's not forget the "we always did DEM, but, uh...um, you didn't notice" category of vendors.  The YDN (you didn't notice) category is filled with companies that previously lacked a true user experience monitoring offering.  Opportunists to the core, YDN vendors magically transformed into "the vendor" for monitoring your digital user experience for your work from home population. Recycled, insecure code you say?  Of course that's not recycled Exchange 2007 on-premises monitoring code.  It's brand new code and you didn't notice!

With so many options and newly reimagined vendors, where do you even start?  Perhaps evaluating some of the key features or methodologies in use to find a good fit for your needs?  Let's take a look at a few areas:

Zero Trust?

This is going to be quite hard to find in a digital experience monitoring solution.  Monitoring products have a bad habit of mandating too much privilege and making use of saved credentials.  And you are not safe with large, well known vendors.  Just look at the massive SolarWinds hack that infected over 18,000 corporate and government networks.  This is a pervasive flaw present in nearly all monitoring products.   

Luckily, the list of possible vendors respecting security is not zero, because our product operates in a zero trust model.  But there will not be many, if any, other DEM vendors that are 100% fully functional out of the box in a zero trust model.  

It's the Network (Sometimes).

One of the more common approximations for digital user experience monitoring involves heavy analysis of the network.  The network can absolutely be part of the problem, and no real DEM solution ships without some level of network monitoring.  But advanced network monitoring vendors sell their tools as complete digital experience monitoring products.  Even the industry's best network monitoring solutions can not identify many common issues you need to monitor with Microsoft Office 365.  The last 4-5 large Microsoft outages were not networking related.  And yet, these solutions tend to be quite expensive too.  Calculating ROI on a product when that can not catch major outages is difficult at best.

Ole' Faithful - Artificially Simulated Transactions

Artificial simulations were all the buzz for monitoring BPOS.  But that was a decade ago.  Think about it - how much has changed in technology in 10 years?  As a reference point Apple has released 18 iPhone models (including the mid-model S versions) between 2011 and now.  It's safe to say a LOT has changed.  

Just like the first iPhone 4, there are some use cases where artificial simulations may still work for your needs.  It can be helpful to get a secondary view point from fixed location probes.  But the line between helpful and harmful is very thin when we speak of artificial simulations.  Statistically speaking, most artificial simulations fail to even fail when your users do.  DEM solutions utilizing this methodology as their core frequently throw excessive false positives or completely miss outages.  Perhaps the vendors chose marketing buzz over technical accuracy. Or maybe they never evolved their core model.  

But let's assume for a moment that a digital experience monitoring solution based on artificial transactions does in fact properly fail when your users fail.  The best artificial simulations fail when your users fail.  

"Best artificial"....is that an oxymoron?  It sounds like something that would be on the label of snack food targeted at kids.  We make the best artificial vegetables!  And somehow the absurdity of "best artificial vegetables" would fit right into some of the marketing fodder you have undoubtedly encountered. 

The gold standard is successfully not failing to fail?  Let's see, that is a triple negative, so we're back to a product that is designed to fail?  Does that really delivery any quantifiable value?  What can you tell users when they are already down?  And how are you realistically going to share that message?  It seems that the ROI is hard to calculate if failing at the same time as users is your best case scenario. 

Legacy Style Real User Monitoring

For at least 20 years vendors have offered products that gather (or scrape) logs from user devices. And these products have excessive labor requirements.  Today several large vendors who classify themselves as DEM vendors use this tried and true method.  But this is another area where you must take a close look at the solution you are considering and evaluate how it will help with digital experience monitoring. 

There is general value in scraping logs from a user's device and having a pre-canned library of templates that evaluate the logs.  If you need to automate run of the mill actions on remote computers, you've found the proper category.  But what if you are truly in charge of user's experience for your company?  Unfortunately, you will not be able to perform a real digital experience support task such as pinpointing the precise cause of a poor call for one user.  Such data does not exist in solely in logs.  

You Have True Options for DEM

You have a the ability to choose a vendor who operates the industry's most accurate global monitoring network for Microsoft Office 365.  A vendor who understands that Digital Experience Monitoring for Office 365, more than any other platform, requires functionality that exceeds simply monitoring the network.  You have the ability to choose a DEM solution for Microsoft Office 365 that was architected with the understanding that artificial simulations can not help you detect outages in advance of your user population.  And you have the ability to choose a solution that can be mass-installed or double-clicked by a standard user, and still be complete in just minutes.

We didn't name our product TrueDEM® to be arrogant.  We understand the problem, and we understand how the problem can be solved.  Perhaps more important, we know that there is a price to pay when you use 10 or 20 year old mentalities to make your products.  So we crafted our solution from the ground up without assumptions and bad habits.  The outcome?  

There is only one TrueDEM® solution.