I recently was asked the following question by an online retailer: “Why should I invest in monitoring the user experience when I already have monitoring for our database, infrastructure, app server, and network?”
In my head I am thinking, “How have you allocated so many resources to monitoring your tech stack, but not your actual customer experience??”
Instead of asking that question, I asked them this: “Are you a network or hosting provider? Or are you an eCommerce retailer?” They quickly understood my point.
The above interaction is fairly common and there are quite a few B2C companies out there that think tech first. When I get a question like that, I find that it is emblematic of a greater problem in the organization:
The technical teams inside the organization are not tightly aligned with the lines of business.
I wrote a blog in 2016 that discussed the need for businesses to flip the traditional monitoring investment pyramid on its head. Instead of focusing on hardware and infrastructure first, technical teams should first ensure that they first have visibility on the thing that drives the business: their customer experience.
Below are three reasons that a digital business’ first monitoring priority should be the end user experience:
Third Party Management is a Big Deal
Third parties are a huge necessity and problem for digital businesses. Paul Calvano has an awesome post using HTTP archive data to detail the prevalence of third party content on the internet. I won’t go into too much detail here, but here is a link to his post for those that want to see his methodology and findings. The high points are:
- Third party usage has increased over the past 5 years, but not necessarily year over year
- Popular sites have a higher percentage of 3rd party content than the average site
- 38% of all sites measured in Sept 2017 (~500K) are more than 75% 3rd party content
Without monitoring the end user experience, you cannot quantify the performance impact of your third party resources. This is a big deal when those resources often make up > 75% of the user experience. While it’s great that your database queries are lightning fast, how are you addressing (or are even aware of) the 8 second render-blocking ad server delaying your end user’s initial page load?
The Rise of Cloud Computing
If you manage a digital business, there is a high probability that you are leveraging (or at least evaluating) migrating a good portion of your infrastructure needs to the cloud. Cloud services allow you to pay for the resource usage you need while taking advantage of scale and reliability, two things that most companies can’t afford internally. Cloud services also enable the business to focus on its core competencies. Below is a graph of the various tiers of Cloud offerings.
No matter type of cloud service you rely on, end-user experience monitoring will be able to give you valuable insight into your digital application’s user experience. In fact, if all or most of your digital offerings are SaaS offerings provided by 3rd parties, synthetic end user experience monitoring is often the only way to get visibility into the performance of that application.
Need for Alignment Between IT and Business KPIs
Capturing performance metrics that are representative of the end user experience enables you to more clearly correlate your monitoring results with revenue-related marketing KPIs such as: conversion rate, pages per session, bounce rate, and time on site, to name just a few.
When an IT organization voluntarily pushes to make its internal KPI an end user experience metric like Speed Index, Visually Complete, or Start Render it is often met with praise from the lines of business and executive teams. This is because many will see this move as creating alignment between the technical teams and the LOB, which is necessary in the world of digital transformation that we live in.
Many IT organizations prioritize their backend infrastructure when allocating their monitoring budget and creating internal KPIs. In the modern world of increased 3rd parties, cloud computing, and digital transformation consider rethinking that strategy to prioritize your end user experience and create better alignment with your lines of business.
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