It’s no secret that the Internet has introduced a level of unparalleled disruption in history. The advent of smartphones and personal mobile devices is rewiring the way people live and work. The reality today is that the web enables more engaging, personalized, on-demand interactions with individuals, which create entirely new business models in the age of the hyperconnected user. The way consumers interact with a brand’s or an enterprise’s web applications is no longer static – consider diverse network connections, browsers, operating systems and devices.
In Asia and around the world, the digital experience constitutes a substantial part of a customer’s overall experience with a brand or institution. This has become ubiquitous across industries, from eCommerce, banking, to gaming.
With pressure from the C-suites and financial executives to drive more revenue growth and reduce costs, line of business (LoB) leaders are seeking greater user engagement to improve customer acquisition and retention. The battle for customer acquisition and retention can be triumphed by meeting or exceeding customer expectations. This can be done by adding richer and more personalized content, applications and third-party functionalities. However, doing so adds to the weight of a page, as more data needs to be delivered in a short span of time. In a world where a 100-millisecond delay in website load time can hurt conversion rates by 7 percent , optimizing the end-user digital experience is paramount for both internal and external customers.
More often than not, addressing this challenge creates an extremely complex ecosystem involving various stakeholders from IT to LoB leaders and C-suites. However, thinking about web and mobile performance in three buckets – performance, scalability and reliability – can help IT and business leaders identify a common language for common goals. In their quest to meet business goals, they need to avoid affecting customer experience, losing customer base and causing a dip in business continuity.
Many organizations turn to richer digital content to achieve better user engagement. Case in point, images make up 62 percent of page weight and websites weigh 3.25 times more in 2016 compared to 2011 . However, when a web/mobile site takes too long to load, 50 percent of unhappy desktop visitors will go to a competing site, and 35 percent will have a negative perception of the brand. Similarly, 74 percent of mobile users will abandon a site after waiting five seconds to load, and 46 percent will not return to a site that performs badly .
Without a doubt, customers today expect and demand a lot from online experiences – constant connectivity, rich content, and fast, seamless digital interactions.
It is possible to achieve a page that is both visually engaging and responsive. One way to do so is to optimize the images on a website or mobile application where the data size of images can be adjusted based on the user’s network, browser and device capabilities. All Nippon Airways (ANA) is a great customer example, in which they implemented a web image content optimization solution across a number of sites it operates, with increasingly high-quality graphics. The automatic high-speed distribution solution enabled shorter load times by 15 to 25 percent on ANA sites, accelerating responsiveness according to end-users’ demands, while minimizing downtime to deliver a seamless user experience across multiple device types.
The Internet puts the world at your fingertips. Scalability refers to the web application’s ability to adapt to growing demands or global expansion without incurring major design changes. For instance, online retailers need to deploy solutions that are able to tune to critical spike during sales event such as Singles’ Day. What’s more, eCommerce in the Philippines is expected to outsize Singapore and Malaysia by 2025.
Scalability and performance are often associated because performance issues are the root cause of scalability issues. Airbnb, an online community marketplace for accommodation, uses Akamai’s web/mobile performance solutions to scale according to where their customers are located across the 192 different countries that they are present to deliver fast web and mobile experiences.
The combination of mobile computing, cloud adoption and the expansion of digital enterprise ecosystems is changing the platform by which mission critical applications are hosted, the people who needs to access them, and with what devices. As a result, cyber risk surface area will only continue to grow and change. An example would be when IT’s framework is too rigid, LoB leaders are more likely to take matters into their own hands and introduce unauthorized tools and technologies into the workplace – resulting in ‘Shadow IT’.
This brings a whole new layer of complexity, complications and security concerns. Yet, it is not an option to disallow employees and third parties access to corporate assets as this can translate into business downtime.
Hence, LoB leaders and IT need to strategically align their priorities to deploy the right solutions and provide simple, seamless and secure access to users while protecting the organization, employees and third parties from cyber risks.
A company that has been doing this successfully is Norwegian Cruise Line, whose nature of operations is vastly dispersed. They employ Akamai Enterprise Threat Protector to add a powerful layer of intelligent security across all the cruise travel company’s shore side office locations and cruise ships. This safeguards the company, employees and guests from complex, targeted attacks at a global scale by layering critical intelligence onto the company’s recursive Domain Name System requests. It also prevents users from accessing malicious domains and lowering risk while ensuring business continuity by empowering their workforce to maximize their potential.
Mastering The Science To Performance Optimization
The customers and employees of today have far more influence and power than ever before. By leveraging advances in IT to enable innovative business strategies and optimize execution, businesses will be able to effectively exceed consumer expectations and drive customer acquisition and retention. However, there is often misalignment between LoB and IT leaders in the areas and priorities of the use of limited technical resources, thus accumulating ‘technical debt’ over time.
Closer alignment between LoB and IT leaders can be achieved by leveraging data analytics that provide important insights into how IT goals correlate with business goals. For instance, how fast should your eCommerce, Internet banking website or mobile app need to be in order to have the highest business metrics such as conversion rate, transaction rate and session time. Moreover, data science can tell you which part of your website or mobile app (e.g. homepage, login page, product category, product, payment etc.) would have more impact on the business metrics. Such insights allow both LoB and IT leaders to make a joint decision on where to prioritize the use of limited resources, whether to add new product features or enhance website and application performance.
IT is no longer just a back-office support or a gatekeeper of rules to protect corporate assets from unauthorized access. It is an integral part of a business to enable innovations and enhance the end-to-end customer journey. This can be achieved if IT and LoB leaders identify a common language to align the key factors mentioned above and ultimately, drive customer acquisition and retention, and in turn, generate revenue.