Application performance management is the top priority for IT executives in 2012, over improvements to private cloud, network upgrades and new internal apps, according to a report by analyst firm Quocirca.

In a study of 500 IT executives and CIOs from organisations in the UK, France, Germany and the United States, 82% of CIOs and 66% of all respondents said that users will expect better performance from their online applications in 2012.

However, nearly half of the CIOs surveyed said they were not confident that their organisation will be able to meet the expected demand without improving their application performance management (APM) capabilities.

“The CIOs in general were more concerned about this issue than the whole sample,” said Bob Tarzey, analyst and director at Quocirca. “Applications are what IT is all about. These are very high pressure jobs and it's about delivering applications to enable their customers or their partners to participate in business processes.”

Some 76 percent of all executives surveyed say that monitoring of their applications needs to go beyond the data centre and start with the user perspective. This is because IT users now take good experience for granted, and are frustrated when it fails to meet their expectations.

“People are wanting a richer and richer experience at the device, and that performance is no longer being delivered out of your data centre,” said Michael Allen, sales director for EMEA at Compuware, which sponsored the report.

“You've got content delivery networks caching stuff close to the users, you have mobile networks which have varying levels of quality, people with different browsers, different processing capacity. These things are really changing the way organisations think about APM, and it's not just a case of using their old tools.”

Overall, 95 percent of all CIOs and 85 percent of all IT executives surveyed stated that APM will be more vital in 2012 than ever before.

Last year Compuware added mobile user monitoring to its Gomez application management software, claiming that businesses increasingly depend on revenue-generating and customer-facing applications that use mobile devices.

“Competition is intense, and the need to optimise application performance has never been greater,” said Bruce Reading, senior VP of APM at Compuware, at the time.