When application issues land on the front page of the news you know it’s no longer just an IT problem. Application performance and availability is a key element of your organization’s brand, especially if a substantial percentage or the entire business is done online. The interesting thing about “brand value” is that it’s difficult to quantify and measure; yet everyone knows it carries tremendous weight for the organization. While there’s a constellation of elements that make up a brand such as design, quality and other key elements such as customer support, application service quality i.e. performance should be included in that equation. Let me explain.
When I think of a company like Google, besides being “innovative” a few other words that come to mind are, “fast” and “reliable”. Now let’s take a trip down memory lane for a moment. Remember the social networking site Friendster? For those of you who aren’t unfamiliar with the pre-Facebook era, Friendster is arguably the godfather of social networking that became wildly popular back in 2002. At first glance my initial opinion of Friendster was “very cool” and “social”, and I’m sure just about everyone else who was an avid user of it shared similar sentiments.That is of course until their users began noticing a massive slow down in the site’s performance and being completely unavailable at times.
I vividly remember when I couldn’t even login at one point because their servers were completely overloaded. It didn’t take long before the perception of Friendster’s brand turned from “very cool” to a frustrating “too slow”. Some claim that this is one of the major reasons for MySpace to steal away a sizable chunk of their users who were abandoning the site in droves (fortunately, they’ve reinvented themselves and are quite popular now in Asia).
Back then, application performance problems may not have ended up on the front page of the news, but with viral effects of social media and the increasing number of people staying connected online due to mobile accessibility, don’t expect to be able to simply sweep these problems under the rug.
Consider the following stories the last few weeks:
- RBS IT Fallout leaves its customers stranded without access to their bank accounts.
- Salesforce.com hit with outage due to failure of a storage tier.
- And then, the Amazon EC2 outage.
Customers can be pretty fickle and unforgiving in today’s highly competitive environment. They expect your application service levels to be topnotch around the clock. One major outage or remarkable slowdown during the year might be permissible, but if this becomes more of the rule rather than the exception, don’t be surprised if your customers’ begin to associate your brand with an unfriendly, negative term.
Granted, not all of these issues are going to be 100% avoidable due to unpredictable natural disasters as proven by the recent Amazon EC2 outage. However, my point here is that application performance and availability should be given some serious TLC since it will probably be under increasing scrutiny from senior management. So before it appears on their radar, why not be vigilant about maintaining optimal application service levels before it hits the front page of the news or becomes an unfavorable trending topic on Twitter?