Mastering a digital experience management strategy

For your mobile initiative to be successful, your apps must deliver a five-star experience. I am sure you are familiar with the seething frustration that can overwhelm you when a particular application crashes in your hour, or moment, of need. This is due to our reliance on such applications in a modern, digital and data-driven society – apps are central to our lives, so when they let us down, the consequences can be devastating. 

As a result, providers of applications have a responsibility to ensure that a consistently efficient experience is on offer. Neglect to do this, and there’s a risk to damaging customer relationships (sometimes beyond repair), or worse, to drive customers into the hands of your closest competitors. 

Today’s business world is dominated by digital services that are made-to-order for users, where the quality of the experience – including intuitive ease, convenience, and richness of choice – is a key differentiator. Users demand to get the information, the product or the service they need right now. They will judge an organisation based on the digital experience it provides, so the difference between a two-second and a five-second delay when using an application can mean the difference between satisfied end users, and frustrated users flooding IT with complaints. 

Managing the digital experience

Today, a lot goes into creating digital experiences that engage each user with a rich array of choices that can make their lives easier or better. That’s where digital experience monitoring (DEM) comes in. Gartner defines DEM as the experience of all digital agents — human and machine — as they interact with enterprise applications and services. DEM has taken centre stage as businesses embracing digital transformation realise that to provide better user experiences, they need to monitor all aspects of the digital experience. 

This means it is no longer enough to just know how their network is performing. Organisations also need to have full understanding of the entirety of the digital experience, from the point of consumption, to the end-user device.  This includes monitoring the full range of activities conducted throughout the day, on a broad portfolio of mobile apps, on multiple devices, from a variety of locations.

Aligning technology with business needs 

Most of the outcomes pursued by today’s organisations – including the increase in satisfied customers as well as in expansion and net/new business, continuous innovation, and reduced operating expenses, among others – depend on how well they proactively manage users’ digital experience. This requires the support of the right technologies. 

 However, aligning the needs and expectations of the business and IT’s ability to deliver isn’t always easy. According to a Riverbed survey, while 98 per cent of executives believe that enterprise application performance is critical to achieving optimal business performance, 89 per cent say poor performance of enterprise applications negatively impacts their productivity on a regular basis.  As teams across the business become more digital, data-driven, and technology-dependent, traditional black-box IT must become transparent and accessible.    

Organisations cannot manage what they cannot see. In order to optimise the digital experience, they must know where users are, and how they are accessing and interacting with applications. This can become quite complicated when analysing a diverse range of servers, networks, web services, databases and the applications themselves.  

The importance of gaining insight

When applications fail to meet performance expectations, they directly impact productivity and the company’s bottom line, creating problems such as dissatisfied customers (41 per cent), contract delays (40 per cent), missed critical deadlines (35 per cent), lost clients (33 per cent) and negative impact on brand (32 per cent). The solution is to establish end-to-end visibility into application performance across the entire network. In order to close the performance gap, IT needs to establish a clear line of sight into how apps are performing, and how they impact on the end-user experience. 

Using a DEM platform, IT can better understand what users see when they utilise an application to execute a critical business process. This could be a customer service agent looking up an account in a customer relationship management app, medical staff accessing a patient’s electronic health record, or a cashier scanning the barcode at the till.

DEM empowers IT to monitor the actual end-user experience of any local, cloud, web, or mobile app running on any physical, virtual, or mobile device. IT can then answer important end-to-end experience questions, such as:

  • Are applications slow to load? What is the latency?
  • How does the user navigate the application?
  • What other applications are running on the device?
  • How did the transaction traverse the network and data centre?
  • Did changes made to the application or infrastructure have an impact?

DEM closes the visibility gap between what IT monitoring tools show and what the workforce or customers are actually experiencing. Organisations can detect issues before they start, fix bottlenecks, and make sure they do not happen again – before end users even have an opportunity to complain. The best tools monitor user interactions with any web or non-web app running on any type of physical, virtual, or mobile device, with no programming required.

When it comes to meeting or exceeding the expectations of your digital users in today’s digital business world, the key is to understand how the experience itself is evolving and what a successful service relationship looks like from the customer's’ point of view. Failing to do so could mean not only lost revenue, lost productivity, but even irreparable damage to a company brand. 

Having a full proof DEM strategy in place enables organisations to find valuable insights in application performance data and user behaviour to create a superior digital experience. This will undoubtedly give organisations a competitive advantage – and set them on the right path towards differentiating themselves from the competition. 

Allan Paton, Regional Vice President, Riverbed Technology
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens