As companies embark on a digital transformation to better serve their customers the challenge of managing the performance and satisfaction with each user becomes ever more critical to the success of the business. When we look at the breakout companies today like Uber, Airbnb, and Slack it’s evident that software is at the core of their success in each industry. Consumers have gone from visiting a bank’s branch to making a transfer to using their desktop or mobile device to fulfill it instantaneously. If the web application is not responding then it could be the equivalent of walking into a long line at the branch and walking out creating a negative impression of that brand. In a digital business making each customer interaction with your digital storefront successful should be at the core of the business objectives.
So, how do we ensure that every digital interaction is successful and performs quickly? The answer lies in using multiple approaches to manage that end-user experience. In our tool arsenal, we have real-user monitoring tools and synthetic monitoring tools that when combined with APM capabilities can help us quickly identify poor performing transactions and quickly triage the root cause to minimize end-user impact. Each tool covers a core area for the web application that gives visibility into the whole experience. For real user monitoring tools, having an understanding of the performance and sequence of every step in the customer path is critical to identifying areas of opportunity in the funnel and increase conversions. Real user monitoring provides the measurement breadth impossible to achieve with only synthetic tools and puts back end performance into a user context. On the synthetic side of monitoring, a repeatable and reproducible set of measurements focused on visual based timings can be of great value in baselining the user experience between releases, pro-actively capturing errors before users are impacted, benchmarking against competitors, and baselining and holding 3rd party content providers accountable for the performance of their content. Synthetic measurements also allow for script assertions to validate that the expected content on a page is delivered in a timely way and accurately alert when there are deviations from the baseline or errors occur.
In a recent survey sponsored by AppDynamics, over 50% of people who manage web and mobile web applications identified 3rd party content as a factor in delivering a good end-user experience. Our modern web and mobile sites most often contain some kind of 3rd party resource from analytics tracking, to social media integration, all the way to authentication functionality. Understanding how each of these components affects the end user experience is critical in maintaining a healthy and well performing site. Using a real-user monitoring tool like AppDynamics Browser EUM solution, you can visualize slow content that may be affecting a page load and identify the provider. The challenge now is how do you see if this provider is living up to their performance claims and how do you hold them accountable.
Third party benchmarking is a capability that a synthetic monitoring solution best provides. With a synthetic transaction you are able to control many variables that are impossible to do on a real user measurement. A synthetic measurement will always use the same browser/browser version, connectivity profile, hardware configuration, and is free from spyware, virus, or adware. Using this clean room environment, you can see what the consistent performance of a page along with every resource to manage and track each element downloaded from multiple synthetic locations worldwide. In this instance, when your monitoring system picks up an unusually high number of slow transactions you can directly drill down and isolate the cause either to a core site slowdown or a 3rd party slowdown and compare the performance across synthetic to determine if it’s a user/geography centric issue or something happening across the board.
In managing the user experience, having all pertinent data in real-time on a consolidated system can be the difference between a 5 min performance degradation or a 5 hour site outage while multiple sources of discordant information are compiled and rationalized. The intersection of data from real-user monitoring and synthetic monitoring can bring context to performance events by correlating user session information like engagement and conversion with changes in performance of 3rd party content or end-user error rates. A 360 degree view of the customer experience will help ensure a positive experience for your customers.
Interested in learning more? Make sure to watch our Winter ’16 Release webinar.