My son is a commercial on-demand cargo pilot, and it’s his job to move around auto parts when they’re needed in the supply chain. During a recent auto strike, he ended up flying a few fenders to a factory for something around $20,000. The profit margin on those fenders was blown to bits, but it would have been far more expensive to interrupt the supply chain — auto assembly lines burn millions per hour.
That kind of individual, transactional economics is insane, of course — no actual fender really costs so much. My point is inefficiencies occur when there’s a hiccup somewhere. They can happen at any point — including when the custom applications that work with suppliers aren’t functioning correctly. The result? The item isn’t ordered, or delivered, on time. And there’s a substantial financial impact downstream.
That’s why slow is the new down. The stakes are high. Here’s five reasons why you need a comprehensive performance management strategy to track and measure all digital touchpoints in your business and mitigate the impact to both your business and the user.
Timing Is Everything
Not too long ago, business ran on an analog model. Customers went to the retailer or contacted them in some way and placed an order. It was the same in B2B interactions; parts were ordered and, once in stock, they were delivered.
The old system worked fine, but compared with the way things are today, that analog model was inefficient. It required more warehousing. Delivery took more time. Overhead was higher. Nothing was “Just in time.” You could call it, “Just you wait.”
Now we’re interconnected, often by custom apps and websites (custom, because each company is different, with different needs that can’t be fulfilled by some “one-size-fits-all” app or site). It works well when it’s working well. But when there’s even a blip, there’s disaster.
Our modern, digitally interconnected system is kept running smoothly by monitoring. Everything about the app and the site is monitored and measured, to a microscopic degree. How is the mobile app performing? How long did the customer stay on a page? How quickly did the B2B app answer a parts order? You can find that out — and fix the problem before it grows.
This is called application performance monitoring (APM). The digital world is full of acronyms, but “APM” is a vital one to know because measurement is now table stakes for any digital business, whether it’s retail, financial or B2B.
Customers Are Fast to Leave When You Are Slow
For execs, it’s job number one to protect and increase market share. Salesforce said 52% of holiday shopping occurs on a mobile device. Last year, Google changed its algorithm to make site speed a ranking factor in mobile search. In short: Go slow, and you won’t get found. You won’t make the sale. You lose market share.
If your customers do manage to find you: A recent study found 95% of consumers in the U.S. and U.K. will jump off an e-commerce or brand site if they’re having a frustrating time. Therefore, you need to know where and when they jump. You can find out with APM.
If your customers are loyal, 60% will still leave you to find that product somewhere else. Customers will simply leave any digital touchpoint that doesn’t keep up. How fast is slow? Google said a mobile site should load within three seconds. Take longer than five seconds, and the probability of bounce increases by 90%.
Customers are fast to leave when you are slow. APM gives you continuous visibility into how your application is performing and helps answer the lingering question, “Is my app good?”
Faster Isn’t Necessarily Better
When cloud first debuted, business leaders loved it. They were able to disconnect from messy interactions with on-premises equipment and the tech pros who maintained it. It was elastic, scalable and agile; they could expediently deploy more resources if something slowed down in the cloud.
At least that was the plan, but the trouble is it didn’t automatically guarantee a better customer experience. It also didn’t make those auto parts arrive on time. Don’t get me wrong, Cargo Dogs love it when you urgently need them to deliver parts. But flying fenders around at the last minute is not a sign things are going well at the part vendor or at the plant.
You still need proactive visibility. With continuous monitoring, you can understand the performance of the application and the infrastructure it runs on.
You can stop reacting and start delivering. APM tells you where you’re getting value and where you aren’t. It knows when you’re spending too much on a feature and not getting much ROI. The secret isn’t spending more money than the other guys. It’s spending it more wisely than they do.
I’m not going to claim APM is a digital shaman. But it does give you a perspective of the cost of running your applications and the performance of running those applications — and it does this proactively.
An example: Earlier in my career, I worked with a business leader who had the application business for a large financial services company. This leader was tasked with ensuring digital interactions were operating in a high-performance fashion. Before he implemented APM tools, he ran with the most expensive systems and infrastructure — both on-premises and in the cloud — on the presumption that massively over-provisioning infrastructure was the safe thing to do.
But users complained his pricey infrastructure was slow or unavailable. His IT staff would look at all their technology metrics — not in the context of application performance, just pure technology metrics — and say nothing was wrong; the infrastructure itself was performing flawlessly. Finally, he brought in APM and instrumented it on a key application and immediately got proactive visibility. He was able to fix the problems with his applications — without buying still more infrastructure.
The Importance of Visibility
Visibility means fewer problems that lead to slowness or outages. But if you do have interruptions, end-to-end visibility shows you the linkage between the application and the infrastructure. Your technology teams can rapidly do root-cause analysis and fix the problem much faster because they’re no longer guessing at where the issues might be.
It means IT isn’t wasting time pointing fingers. It is working off a consistent and standard set of information. Additionally, for traditional IT organizations, APM gives next-level visibility into infrastructure, whether it’s on-premises, cloud, hybrid, etc. It gives stakeholders a view into the metrics that matter.
The Right Metrics — Even During App Development
There are many reasons why applications can’t perform well. They could have other applications contending for resources. And here’s something else: that custom application could be poorly written.
APM is a great help in the development stage of applications because it allows people writing the applications to understand how their application code is performing immediately. That way, they can optimize their code before it goes live.
That app can be written in any number of languages, and it might be public cloud, hybrid cloud, or private, on-premises. APM instruments these apps and allows you to see right down to the line of code how those apps are performing. The likelihood of deploying poorly performing code into production thus minimized greatly.
APM allows companies to roll out better performing applications more quickly with a high degree of assurance that they’re not going to be slow in production. Without APM, you have an unknown level of risk associated with availability and performance of your applications, their transactions and your infrastructure. If you’re not monitoring it and measuring it, you can’t manage it in a low-risk fashion — which is ultimately why APM matters and should be adopted as broadly as possible across your application and infrastructure environment.