Time Is Money, and the Competition Is Only a Click Away

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Never has the adage time is money been more true than in the age of e-commerce. Online customers have come to demand a level of service that keeps pace with their daily lives. With the competition just a click away, e-commerce companies need to ensure a positive customer experience or risk losing business. Optimizing Web-site performance, in particular page load times, is a good place to start. The length of time it takes a company's Web page to load is directly related to customer satisfaction, which in turn is related to online sales. For example, if a customer visited a site to buy a new book and the site was too slow, that customer may just go to another site to make the purchase. In the world of on-line brokerage, for example, the value of each a transaction may represent thousands of dollars per stock trade and the revenue at risk can amount to millions of dollars per hour. Regardless of the business application, if customers are involved there is a critical need to measure, monitor, and manage the quality of these application service levels. There are two schools of thought concerning the measurement of application availability and response time: synthetic and real-user measurement. Synthetic measurement entails the use of software agents, which "simulate" the behavior of an actual online customer. This type of measurement is a valid approach to testing the performance of business apps in a preproduction environment before real users are available. Synthetic testing is also useful for providing a public benchmark for the comparison of Web-site performance with a common, albeit artificial, performance yardstick. However, online applications implemented on a global scale require a no-compromise approach to operational management by the corporate IT department. That's where real user measurement, the real-time collection of availability and response time data for every user of every application, becomes essential. Rapid problem detection and resolution must, by necessity, be based on real service-level information gathered from real users with actionable diagnostic data. Synthetic transactions for a small sample of users and locations for a partial sample of a 24-hour operation is a bit like playing Russian roulette with your business results. By using real measurement tools companies gain a critical edge in ensuring the best possible customer experience. Real measurement allows e-commerce companies to accurately gauge, in real time, which customers are having difficulties and why. More important, real measurement allows companies to work toward an immediate solution to a customer's problems. This ability to respond quickly and accurately is the cornerstone of good CRM. About the Author Dave Zwicker, vice president of marketing at Adlex, manages global marketing, including branding strategy, product marketing, and marketing communications programs. Prior to joining Adlex, Dave was at 3Com Corporation, Enterasys Networks, and Indus River Networks. Zwicker has 24 years of industry experience in software and system level solutions for enterprise and service provider markets. www.adlex.com
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