Web and Mobile Application Development Developers On Application Performance
Saturday, April 16, 2016
Dimensional Research and AppDynamics recently partnered in a survey to capture trends and data about web and mobile application development as it relates to monitoring and analyzing tools, including the ability to capture data in real-time, measure performance and business impact.
Anand Akela, Director of Product Marketing for Application Performance Management (APM) at AppDynamics, reached out to us to discuss the survey results and provide insight into the company’s takeaways from the research.
ADM: What are the key takeaways of this Dimensional Research study for web and mobile app developers?
Akela: Dimensional Research’s “Business Impact of User Experience” survey of 423 web and mobile application stakeholders types found that a lack of integrated monitoring capabilities impacts companies’ ability to optimize application performance. For example:
- Fewer than 1 in 4 respondents said they had integrated their user experience tools and the majority (77 percent) said their metrics exist in “data siloes.” And most of those – 74 percent – said that lack of integration impacts their ability to use performance data effectively.
- Most companies are unable to connect the dots between poor digital performance and the cost to the business. While 88 percent think it’s valuable to know the dollar cost of poor user experience, only 38 percent quantify it today.
- Executives want, but don’t have, real-time performance metrics. In fact, more than half of them (61 percent) revealed it was “very important” to get business impact/performance metrics quickly, yet only one-third (32 percent) have the ability to track metrics in real-time. The rest have to use reporting systems that run on a set schedule (46 percent) or correlate data from systems of record into a data warehouse as needed (22 percent).
Let’s say the sales or marketing team asks the IT team to create a shiny new web or mobile app without understanding the technical requirements. Who’s really responsible for the app’s performance?
Typically, the operations team within an organization is responsible for the overall performance of their app(s). However, the responsibility doesn’t solely rely on any one individual or practice group. Development, operations and business teams all play individual roles that lead to the success of an app.
For example, development teams are responsible for writing code, operations teams are responsible for monitoring and optimizing the app performance, and business teams (i.e., marketing) are responsible for the app receiving the best possible ROI, as well as the app and company’s reputation. To ensure an app performs efficiently and effectively, collaboration between development, operations, and business teams throughout the app’s lifecycle is vital.
ADM: How can the different lines of business work better together when it comes to improving software and apps?
Akela: As we move into an increasingly agile world, collaboration between development, operations, and business teams is key for creating an optimal customer experience:
- For example, if an IT operations team member sees that a mobile app is continuously crashing, they can send over the troubleshooting details and analytics reports on these crashes to the development team. With these troubleshooting details and analytics, developers can pinpoint the specific line of code that is causing the crashes and alter the code to prevent future crashes.
- If a business team has real-time visibility into when failure occurs during the business transaction, they can proceed with a tailored win-back campaign to regain the customer’s trust and satisfaction. The win back offer could be situational - a customer who experiences a website or mobile app crash right as they checkout with their credit card information is probably going to be more frustrated than someone just casually browsing without any items in their shopping cart. The visibility into the exact crash scenario and details on the end-user regarding their buying behaviors, demographics, and loyalty tier can help the business decide on a specific win-back offer.
ADM: The term Digital Transformation has been around for a few years now. Why exactly is it so critical for developers today?
Akela: Today, businesses are undergoing necessary “digital transformation” because they are powering their organizations through software more than ever before. As digitization continues, continuous delivery processes are accelerating. Although this trend allows companies to deliver product updates to their customers quicker, there is now less time for developers and operations teams to optimize application code and as a result, application performance may suffer and impact the end-user experience.
The impact of poor application performance or availability can be devastating to business growth. While the cost of downtime varies widely depending on business-specific factors, as noted in a recent EMA white paper, one manufacturer of consumer technology reported a per-outage cost averaging $1.5 million, with a total cost of downtime for the prior year in the $15 million range.
Poor application performance impacts the bottom line in other ways as well. Almost 50% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less. 40% will abandon a site that requires more than three seconds of loading time. And for a site generating $100,000 per day in revenue, a one-second page delay can cost $2.5 million in lost sales annually.
As enterprises increasingly engage customers online through web and mobile applications, it is absolutely critical that developers perform exhaustive performance engineering efforts during the development and QA periods.
ADM: How can developers play a strategic role in their companies’ digital transformation initiatives (which other lines of businesses have traditionally been more responsible for)?
Akela: Traditionally, operations teams have been responsible for application performance and ensuring it is maintained. However, in this world of agile development and continuous delivery, developers need to play a strategic role in their companies’ digital transformation initiatives.
Developers need to be thinking about application performance during the development and QA and ensure the code performs optimally against the production workload in the pre-production environment. If a developer can ensure performance goals are met early in development cycle, this will help ensure the customer experience does not deteriorate in production.
ADM: What is the role of application performance monitoring (APM) in digital transformation?
Akela: We see APM as one of the key pillars of Digital Transformation initiatives. The key goal when companies begin to digitally transform is to ensure the customer experience does not degrade as a company’s digitization continues. This is where APM comes into the picture. APM provides companies with visibility into how users are interacting with an application, proactively identifies degrading applications, and helps address issues before they impact customers.
For example, APM can flag a slowing business transaction on an ecommerce site, enabling the application support personnel to quickly isolate and resolve the problem before a shopper experiences application performance issues or downtime.
In the developer and operations communities, there is a saying we like to use, “Chase the yellow before it turns red.” In short, this means developer and operations teams need to chase potential performance issues before they result in performance issues that impact user experience. APM plays a key role here by helping teams identify the “yellows.”
ADM: What differentiates AppDynamics’ new Winter ’16 Release from other competing APM vendors’ solutions?
Akela: AppDynamics’ Winter ’16 Release provides users with next generation updates to our Application Intelligence Platform to help enterprises achieve the user experience and operation success necessary for effective digital transformation. Although the Winter ’16 Release provides users with many updates, there are three core pillars of the release that help AppDynamics stand out from the APM pack:
- Complete Understanding of User’s Digital Journey: Customers are now able to understand session performance to enhance the customer experience. Featuring both Web and mobile app sessions support, users are able to track and capture the end-to-end user journey. With this full view of a customer interaction, users will now be able to provide conversion dynamics, such as where the users dropped off or disengaged and what was the business impact?
- In addition, the Winter ’16 Release now provides synthetic monitoring to track web performance, allowing users to proactively monitor web performance 24/7 and from 26 geographies, baseline and ensure 3rd party service SLAs, test pre-production applications, and full integration with backend application for end-to-end performance metrics.
- Enhanced Unified Monitoring: With the Winter ’16 Release, Unified Monitoring now offers application-centric server visibility that proactively detects and helps quickly resolve server performance issues in context of business transactions and supports C/C++ applications through a monitoring SDK that enables the same real-time, end-to-end performance visibility as other supported languages, for rapid root-cause analysis and issue resolution.
- Rich Application Analytics: The Winter ’16 Release also delivers enhancements to AppDynamics’ Application Analytics, including support for more data sets, a customer SQL-based query language that enables unified search and log correlation with business transactions, various user interface enhancements and new out-of-the-box visualizations and data widgets, and role-based access control.
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