Top 5 Mobile APM Myths: Myths 3-5

If you’re just tuning in, please check out my previous post where I dispel myths 1 & 2, bad app ratings are uncontrollable and it’s impossible to understand your backend services.

Typically, mobile app developers accept some things they feel they can’t change — ratings, end-to-end visibility, user experience, and so on. However, these can all be avoided and under your control with the right mAPM solution to give you the proper insights to give your users a seamless experience.

Now, on to the myth busting…

Myth #3: Users are an enigma that I can never really understand

You cannot nail down the mobile end-user experience unless you know your audience. You need to understand where the end user is spending time while using your application. Are they spending time scrolling down search results to find what they want? In other words, are you presenting the most relevant information at the top? Are they abandoning the shopping cart at any specific points in the checkout process? Is there funnel friction that you need to optimize your app against?

The modern mobile APM tools have some great capabilities to understand your end user and their behavior. You can inject timers across any two arbitrary points and measure times taken for a collection of any number of steps. For example, you can measure how long it takes your user from conducting the first search to purchasing a product or a service. This can be done at an individual user or at aggregate levels. You can measure how much time users spend on which screen. This will give you great insights into who your typical user is and what interactions do they indulge in with your application. You can then optimize the app experience for those common patterns.
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Myth #4: I’m going to spend the rest of my life certifying my mobile app on the infinite permutations and combinations of device types, OS types, and network carriers/types

This is where you need concrete data to understand your user demographics. A good mAPM solution will give you detailed breakdown of who your core audience is. What device types they prefer, what OS’s (iOS vs Android) they run, and which networks they mostly originate from. A good APM solution will also allow you to correlate this information with revenue or engagement information to determine your highest-value audience.

With all this valuable information, you can prioritize development, testing, and certification of your mobile app. You can even optimize your app experience and test for performance bottlenecks for the high-value audience. And lastly, you can focus on retaining them by delivering on their roadmap demands over the lesser engaging ones.
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Myth #5: There’s no way to know the business impact of the performance issues of my mobile app

Most mAPM tools in the market today are too developer-centric. They deliver crash analytics and performance delays caused by delayed response from backend services but little else. Often times, the mobile channel is an enabler of some business goals such as better customer engagement, additional revenue streams, cost savings from productivity or efficiency gains. Plus, it’s the broader context that feeds investments into the mobile channel. Ignoring the business context is like missing out on half the picture.

The right tool needs to deliver full context on the mobile application. The full context should include what impact the app has on business metrics such as revenues, cost savings, customer engagement KPIs, etc. A comparative chart that shows performance impact of mobile app on these business metrics can be incredibly powerful to raise awareness among the organization.
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With these myths dispelled, I hope you have gotten a different perspective on your mobile app initiatives and are rethinking your approach to mobile APM. Feel free to leave comments and share your thoughts.

Also, check out my previous post to learn about myths 1 and 2.

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For a introduction to AppDynamics Mobile Real-User Monitoring, watch our On-Demand Webinar now.

Top 5 Mobile APM Myths: Myths 1 & 2

Mobile is now regarded as the most explosive source of revenue growth, employee productivity improvement, and customer engagement. GigaOm research reports that mobile users represented 40 percent of eBay’s 36 million new users in 2013, accounting for $35 billion in enabled commerce volume (ECV) — an astounding increase of 88 percent over the prior year.

However, mobile engagement is a very tricky one. Because the mobile user is so focused on the mobile app while interacting with it, it is an intense interaction over a rather small screen. With so many alternative choices at their fingertips, the user has almost no tolerance towards ill-designed or poorly performing mobile applications. The last I heard the iTunes App Store has 1.2 million apps. For the Android user, there are about 1.3 million apps to try from. Loyalty needs to be earned, and cannot be taken for granted. Plus, a lot of your brand value and revenue/cost savings are at stake.

It is not as hopeless as it sounds, however. Remember, mobile users are also known for rewarding a great experience; it took the Angry Birds app only 35 days to reach 50 million users! The total franchise value including merchandise, etc. had exploded to a few billion dollars at their peak. Mobile is a high velocity market. The first mover’s advantage is tremendous, and you need to take charge of your experience with the right mobile application performance monitoring (mAPM or mobile APM) tools at hand.

There is a lot of confusion in the market today. So in this blog post, I’d like to dispel some key myths around mobile apps. And how, with the right mAPM tool, you can nail your mobile app experience — both interactivity-wise and performance-wise — and thereby win the market.

Myth #1: Unforgiving app ratings on the app store are an unfortunate reality

There is no such thing as bug-free code. Any sufficiently complex code will have bugs, and so will your mobile app. Your users understand this reality but are looking for well thought-out designs that have fewer performance and crash issues. Customers are also amenable to quick fixes and are willing to give chances to organizations that are responsive to bugs, performance issues, and crashing issues. The critical success factor here is the turnaround time.

In order to avoid brutal app ratings, you need to a ship a good product, but more importantly show you are willing to respond to your user problems and fix them promptly. Use state of the art crash analytics and network request analytics to understand how your app is performing. The ideal mAPM tool should show the crashes and their stack traces in near real-time as they happen. For fastest response time, the mAPM tool should group these crashes based on common patterns and uniqueness. The same mAPM tool should also provide network request latencies at group levels as well as individual request levels. Resolution of information should not be lost when troubleshooting performance and crash issues.

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Myth #2: Backend services are black boxes of performance bottlenecks and I should just give up on them

I keep observing the finger pointing between mobile developers and the IT Ops teams. Those mobile developers who use mobile-only APM tools have visibility only till the point where a network request is made from the mobile app. Anything beyond is pretty much a black box which is usually the main cause for performance delays and mobile app’s poor response time. For the lack of better information, the mobile developer is quick to blame the back end service. On the other hand, the IT Ops team that has invested in legacy APM solutions that are unable to distinguish mobile-originating transactions from the others. They often struggle to isolate the mobile transaction delays caused by their services and get defensive.

A modern end-to-end APM solution that delivers context-awareness for transactions originating from mobile devices all the way to the backend database or even storage would completely take away the guesswork in performance troubleshooting. And if the entire infrastructure can be managed with a single pane of glass, there will be no information lost in translation and the mobile dev and IT Ops team can collaborate to focus on nailing down the end-user experience rather than play the blame game.

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This is the most critical requirement we hear from our customers time and again.

Stay tuned for the next installment of the series where I’ll cover myths 3-5:

  • Users are an enigma that I can never really understand
  • I’m going to spend the rest of my life certifying my mobile app on the infinite permutations and combination of device types, OS types, and network carriers/types
  • There’s no way to know the business impact of performance issues of my mobile app
  • Here’s a quick infographic showing all 5 Mobile APM myths:

    Interested in trying AppDynamics Mobile RUM? Check out our FREE trial!

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    Check out myths 3, 4, & 5 here

    One bad App can ruin your health

    How do users react when their mobile applications aren’t performing up to expectations? How frustrated do they become? These were answers we sought out to find when we started the App Attention Span Research with the University of London. We wanted to find quantitative proof to see how poor performing apps affect our emotions, and discovered some exciting results. We all know how it makes us feel but we needed to take a more scientific approach to understanding the emotions poor performing apps drive.

    So last month we conducted a joint study with the University of London to discover how users react when the performance of mobile applications aren’t up to expectations. We took actual app users as case studies and put them in a scientific lab – with some really lousy apps for company. No need to have a clandestine “mood” study without users knowing (cough, cough, Facebook, cough), our participants were willing and provided some compelling results.

    The study gave us great insight into how glitchy, slow, and unstable apps affect users’ app preference, and how terrible performance impacts their emotions. Sure, we expected the lab research to reveal a certain level of user frustration. However, frustration levels were much higher than we thought. And, as we later found out, this directly leads to a sharp spike in users deleting and uninstalling apps that don’t meet their expectations.

    App makers, take note.

    The University of London’s Director of innovation Chris Brauer – our research lead – observed, “Users experience a lot of negative emotions and frustrations when trying to complete some digital tasks and apps or Web pages are slow to load.”

    It is also clear that our patience wears thin in today’s app-enabled world. As Chris Brauer puts it; “Our attention span demands have adapted dramatically to the available technologies.” In short, if we’re not getting the performance from one app we’ll simply move onto another. Despite this lack of patience, results from the study demonstrated that in many cases, people are now becoming more loyal to an app than a brand.

    “Consumer expectations regarding apps are really high, so when people’s experience is not satisfying, they are going to go elsewhere and look for an alternative. It’s therefore very important for app developers and service providers to test and optimize.”

    Jonathan Freeman, Professor of Psychology, University of London, and Managing Director of i2 media research at Goldsmiths

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    Don’t stress me out.

    One thing we found especially surprising was the level emotional distress that inferior mobile app performance caused. Despite how melodramatic this may sound, the impact on our guinea pigs was substantial. The three most common reactions were frustration, stress, and disappointment. Yes: stress.

    As one of our UK case studies, Will Marshall, put it: “It is very frustrating and can make you anxious that apps often don’t work just when you need them to be there, like on a train. Disruption of digital routine can also be very stressful.”

    In short, frustrations stem from the high expectations we have for the apps that are never far from our fingertips. We expect them to respond instantaneously and perform without any stalls or crashes; which means the margin of error that app developers have to work with is quickly diminishing. As a result, mobile application performance has never been more critical.

    We’ve also created this infographic showcasing some of the interesting data points from the study:


    To check out the full report and detailed data, click here.

    Relieve your users’ frustration by gaining visibility into the performance of your mobile applications with AppDynamics Mobile RUM today.

    For a introduction to AppDynamics Mobile Real-User Monitoring, watch our On-Demand Webinar now.

    Improving the quality of mobile applications with Mobile APM

    Mobile applications now account for 15 percent of all Internet traffic, with 1.5 billion users worldwide. Done right, a simple iPhone application can reach 50 million users in days. When you have a successful mobile application it is difficult to ensure all of your users have a great experience. While good performance gets a high rating and strong sales in the App Store, poor performance will impact the application’s rating—and can cost a business tens of thousands of dollars for every second of delayed response or app failure.

    The reality is often times the organization responsible for infrastructure and monitoring have limited influence with the mobile application owners. Most mobile application owners have visibility into the server-side applications, but limited visibility into the mobile experience. In a recent report from Gartner, Jonah Kowall calls out the growth in the mobile space:

    By 2018, 25% of those organizations with current, five-dimensional APM investments will extend them to mobile devices and applications, up from under 1% today.

    Monitoring native mobile applications is increasingly challenging due to the sheer amount of platforms, devices, and variability of connectivity. In order to truly understand your users you need to leverage end user experience monitoring (EUEM) to gain visibility into how your actual users perceive your application. You need to utilize Mobile APM to gain visibility into application crashes and hangs, understand the interactions between mobile applications and the server-side, and understand your users through analytics. AppDynamics makes it easy to get complete visibility across your web and mobile applications:

    Mobile APM

     

    Find out more about the key challenges in improving the quality of mobile applications in a Gartner analyst report written by the leading APM analyst Jonah Kowall.

    Take five minutes to get complete visibility into the performance of your mobile applications with AppDynamics Mobile RUM today.

    For a introduction to AppDynamics Mobile Real-User Monitoring, watch our On-Demand Webinar now.