Is Digital Experience Driving Your Business Strategies?
When’s the last time you were truly amazed by a digital service? For me, it was just last month. While traveling for business, I received an email from my credit card company asking me to confirm a recent purchase. Turns out, it was a rather large fraudulent charge. The proactive email was nice, but it was the digital experience of taking care of the issue that really impressed me.
Since I was traveling and needed to use my now deactivated credit card, the customer service rep told me to download their mobile app. With the app, I could reactivate the card to make purchases and then immediately deactivate it again when the transaction was processed. In addition, I could see the credentials for my new card. This allowed me to promptly update my credit card information for all recurring payments tied to my account. Bottom line, I was able to address all my needs in minutes and because my entire digital experience was simple and convenient, I am one happy and loyal customer.
Credit card companies, like more than two-thirds of enterprises today, are creating new and innovative digital services to acquire and retain customers. And they are deploying Digital Experience Management (DEM) solutions to transform how their business operates; bridge the divide between IT departments and lines of business; and improve overall performance.
Digital Experience Management: more than performance monitoring
You’ve all heard of Application Performance Management (APM) and End User Experience Monitoring (EUEM). These practices involve monitoring metrics like availability and response time to manage digital service quality.
Standalone APM and EUEM are becoming increasingly limiting, especially for companies that are placing bets on digital initiatives to drive their business forward. Why? Because in order to fully understand the performance and ROI of digital services, it’s crucial that the entirety of an application’s journey, from development to delivery to consumption, be proactively and holistically managed. This means:
- Developers design applications with performance in mind,
- Unified visibility within the application and across device types, networks and infrastructure, on and off the cloud,
- Immediate problem resolution and continuous optimization of end-user experience.
Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), an IT and data management research, analysis, and consulting firm, sums it up well. They define Digital Experience Management as: The analysis and optimization of application service delivery to end users and consumers in support of business outcomes, service performance, and application design.
The multi-dimensional nature of Digital Experience Management
DEM can be challenging to implement for a number of reasons. But, the primary reason is because it is multi-dimensional, both technologically and organizationally.
Take that awesome credit card mobile app I described. What if it didn’t perform well? What if I couldn’t download it? What if it took forever for pages to load? What if links were broken?
Technologically, components of that app traversed multiple environments, called on multiple databases and third-party services, and probably linked to several legacy systems. Think about all the potential points of failure behind delivering just one app to one end user. Then, multiple that by hundreds, maybe thousands of digital services that my credit card company uses to serve their customers, employees, partners, and suppliers every second of every day.
Organizationally, DEM is difficult because of the siloed nature of most IT departments and the lack of alignment between IT and lines of business. If you look at most IT org charts, teams are organized by technology domains. There’s a team responsible for the network, another team responsible for applications, one for infrastructure, another for end user services, so on and so forth. Each team operates their own set of solutions to help them manage just their domain.
The problem with this model is that it’s highly fragmented. There’s no one view of the entire digital experience. The solutions don’t work together, data is incongruent, and teams struggle to use performance insights to fix problems or to determine areas for improvement.
And while 59% of companies believe Digital Experience Management is a shared concern between IT and the business, teams within these groups often have divergent missions. Business units and application developers need to release new digital services, features and functions quickly and continuously, to meet end user and business demands. On the other hand, network, infrastructure, and end user support teams strive for operational stability. Introducing change could disrupt service availability or quality and they are often the first to feel the pain when things go wrong.
Effective DEM tackles the many dimensions of digital experience and unifies organizations around what should be the ultimate goal: faster innovation with fewer issues and consistently high levels of end-user satisfaction.
The three cornerstones of Digital Experience Management
If you agree with EMA’s definition, DEM should enable analysis and optimization of digital service delivery in support of application design, service performance, and business outcomes. I would add that ideally these areas should be addressed in a proactive and holistic manner.
Digitally-focused companies are constantly under pressure to launch new applications and digital services. As a result, many organizations are adopting DevOps practices to speed up time-to-market. While this sounds great for the business, accelerated releases actually compounds performance issues. Consider that 45% of organizations report that service levels have DEGRADED as rates of change increase.
At a minimum, DEM solutions should provide predictive analytics and diagnostics to help DevOps teams identify and troubleshoot bugs early in the development cycle. As figures show that fixing bugs during design is 15x cheaper than fixing them in testing and 100x cheaper than addressing them in production, this capability is not only critical for ensuring better performance upon release, it is also a tremendous cost-saver for the company.
More proactive DEM solutions also provide insights on user satisfaction and adoption so DevOps teams can better prioritize their development roadmap and improvement efforts, as well as measure the business impact of their applications.
Performance starts and ends with visibility. You simply can’t measure, manage, or improve what you can’t see or understand. And with the growing adoption of third-party cloud services and more applications moving to, through, or born in the cloud, there’s no question that visibility has become even more challenging.
Any successful DEM strategy must include an integrated solution for monitoring and managing the cloud. It must also provide the most critical view for effective digital experience management: correlated performance data across apps, networks and infrastructure (on and off the cloud), and end-user devices. IT teams work off the same high-definition data, resulting in faster troubleshooting and problem resolution.
More holistic DEM strategies include technologies like SD-WAN and WAN Optimization to virtualize or software-define network management functions and improve service performance. These technologies enable application acceleration, intelligent network routing, and centralized enforcement of business rules, security policies, and performance SLAs.
For most businesses, digital value creation takes the form of new market opportunities, loyal customers, streamlined business operations, and increased employee productivity. Digital Experience Management, as a practice or as a set of technology solutions, does not create this business value. Rather, it enables, measures, improves, and protects it.
In a 2017 EMA survey, the top two most active uses cases for DEM included business impact (71%) and performance (76%), followed by change management, application design, end-user productivity, and service usage. Effective DEM should ideally address all these uses cases, providing both technical and business metrics to help organizations understand the financial impact of their digital investments.
Digital performance effects business health, influencing everything from brand reputation to stock performance to customer loyalty. Consider that Amazon calculated that a one second page load slowdown could cost the company $1.6 billion per year in sales and a typical broker loses $4M in revenues per millisecond when their trading platform is 5 milliseconds behind their competitor.
The CEO of my credit card company has stated “Digital is who we are and how we do business.” Their digital journey began with the recognition that digital banking was going to be important for the future, and it requires a different technology organization, a different delivery platform, a different way of doing business to succeed. Since then, they have adopted Agile methodologies, moved infrastructure to the public cloud, and conducted more than 80,000 big data experiments every year—all in an effort to stand apart from and ahead of their competitors.
Don’t leave the success of your digital journey to serendipity. Fully embrace Digital Experience Management to understand and optimize application planning, design, delivery and consumption. The future of your company depends on it.
 Gartner’s 2016 CIO survey
 EMA: User, Customer, and Digital Experience: Where Service and Business Performance Come Together, Dennis Drogseth, Julie Craig, Feb 2017
 EMA, “APM in the Digital Economy,” June 2016
 IBM System Science Institute, “Relative Costs to Fix Software Defects”
 EMA, Best Practices for Successful Digital Experience Management, July 2017