Competitive advantage in business comes in many forms, and your business has likely executed a number of tactics to secure a few.
Your company may have developed a first-mover advantage; beat out competitors on price, features or service; or have the benefit of a strong brand reputation built over years of heritage.
As more businesses migrate to the cloud (opens in new tab) and international business and trade become the norm, ensuring your customers have an authentic two-way experience is becoming a business imperative.
Customers no longer will wait for slow web pages. Within a few seconds sites are abandoned and competitors win business and brand loyalty. Brands are the extension of an individual’s identity.
Knowing how well your customers reach you across the internet is a critical part of managing the end-user experience − and measuring and managing speed, security, reachability and availability. It is also the key to winning and keeping customers in the Internet Age.
The following steps are key in making the internet your organisation’s competitive advantage.
1. Monitor and control the internet
Many companies today have reduced cost while improving flexibility, reliability and scale of their internet infrastructure by employing cloud service (opens in new tab) providers, content delivery services and hosting (opens in new tab) companies. This is now the standard. The sky is the limit for market expansion, reduced time to market and revenue growth. Even smaller companies are still using relatively sophisticated data flow tools to manage their information and connectivity across the Web.
Yet, how many of these companies have a comprehensive, end-to-end view into the speed and availability of their information across the internet? And how many companies understand how latencies, quality, outages or redirects are impacting their customers’ ability to access their web offerings? How many companies put their brands online and then just hope for the best?
Each day there are an average of 3,000 internet outages around the world on the web.
And while many are relatively harmless, major disruptions happen fairly often. This summer alone saw a number of high profile outages and network failures from Apple Music, ISP X, Amazon Web Services and Netflix.
Monitoring your company’s Internet connections is half the battle; having the control to reroute and avoid disruptions to your customers is the other half that gives you the control to mitigate these risks, protecting sales and customer confidence. We are yet to improve the speed of light as data traverses the globe. Therefore placing your content close to your users is the only solution.
2. Deliver availability and reachability
The ability for customers to access and have full performance to any desired market cannot be understated as a core business goal. The first step in having strong availability and reachability is knowing the constant state of your own internet Performance to key regions.
There are important questions to ask to determine availability. Is my service available to my customers? Are my partners able to connect to my services? What does the connection performance look like amongst my selected cloud providers? Do my CDNs meet my needs? What and where are my single points of failure?
Service outages from availability issues can be significant. A recent Google cloud outage, which lasted for almost two hours, was caused by an internal software issue related to its virtual network traffic routing. If your business was using a single cloud instance and you were not monitoring for network-wide availability, you would have experienced this outage and your availability would have been impacted.
Reachability similarly affects your customers’ ability to access your website and services. How accessible are you in the target markets around the world? Again, in cases where a business is using a single cloud instance, an outage or failure will have a detrimental impact on reachability - and unless your business is monitoring your reachability and mitigating for failures, you are open to disruptions and have little choices for rerouting in the event of a disruptive event.
In the event of our outage, smart availability and reachability strategies will give your business an edge over competitors that are down, providing the end user experience that your customers expect, driving sales and building brand loyalty.
3. Optimise performance
Slow services are just as bad as downtime. The global proliferation of high speed Internet and the shift to mobile means that the expectations for performance are higher than ever. Amazon (opens in new tab) recently calculated that a page load slowdown of just one second could cost it $1.6 billion in sales each year. Even a large Internet business could face huge penalties for Internet Performance deficiencies.
Most businesses are investing in performance tools but few are looking outside their firewalls to understand how the Internet affects each and every customer connection. For example, where does Amazon's symbolic 1 second delay come from? More often than not it stems from Internet Performance. What does optimised performance really mean? In a nutshell, greater speed, network flexibility and the ability to predict and prevent disruptions affect your business.
Any business that generates revenues online has the potential to be a global business and should consider the tools available to make the Internet a competitive advantage. Successful IT executives understand that there is money to be saved by mitigating risk, but also by harnessing the power of the global web to streamline performance and make cloud, CDN and data decisions based on the performance - or lack thereof - of these providers.
Knowledge is power. Monitor and control your Internet assets to gain the insights your company needs to make the Internet your competitive advantage.
Paul Heywood is Managing Director and VP of EMEA, Dyn (opens in new tab).