SOASTA http://www.soasta.com Cloud Testing for Performance Intelligence Fri, 27 Mar 2015 23:35:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Why Application Performance Optimization is a Must for Financial Services Providers http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/why-application-performance-optimization-is-a-must-for-financial-services-providers/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/why-application-performance-optimization-is-a-must-for-financial-services-providers/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 13:29:30 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/why-application-performance-optimization-is-a-must-for-financial-services-providers/ Today's financial services industry is more fast-paced and advanced than ever before. Technology now provides the backbone for nearly every process these organizations carry out – including both business-to-business transactions as well as client-facing operations. In order to ensure that their employees have access to the tools they need and that customers have an enjoyable experience, financial services providers must be able to guarantee that their applications will work as they're supposed to at all times.

For this reason, and many others, application performance optimization is a must, and SOASTA, alongside its suite of industry-leading solutions, can help financial services providers keep their critical programs performing at their peak.

Customers interact with financial institutions through applications

"The strongest forecaster of overall client retention is the ability to provide a positive customer experience."

Guaranteeing that the applications staff members use operate efficiently isn't the only area financial services providers should be focusing on. Customers are now interacting with their banks, credit unions and other providers through mobile and online applications more now than ever before. If these programs don't provide the experience clients are seeking, they may take their business elsewhere. Recent findings from Capgemini support this, noting that currently, the strongest forecaster of overall client retention is the ability to provide a positive customer experience.

"The true way to earn a customer's loyal business is to deliver the right experiences: smart and timely cross-sell offers, convenient and responsive mobile apps, data-rich web applications, and more," SOASTA pointed out in its white paper, Why Digitally-Savvy Financial Institutions Are More Profitable.

Capgemini also discovered that financial organizations that had a robust digital presence were 26 percent more profitable, as well as 9 percent more efficient, than those that were not "digitally mature." In this way, a top performing application doesn't just help provide an enjoyable customer experience that breeds loyalty – it can also make the institution more valuable and effective.

Shorter app lifecycle increases demand for peak performance
However, as apps are rolled out faster than ever before, the testing of these applications must be carried out in a more streamlined manner as well. With customer demands continuing to rise, financial services providers are under increasing pressure to address and cater to these needs. This has translated into a shorter lifecycle for the applications being used in this space, as developers create new programs to help ensure that financial services institutions have the information and capabilities they need to provide the best experience possible for customers.

"Financial institutions are using Agile and Scrum methodologies to release more applications in less time," SOASTA noted. "And that means app testing needs to be more efficient than ever, too."

With SOASTA's application performance testing solutions, developers can ensure that their apps will offer the peak performance that today's financial services institutions need. Solutions for managed testing, automated testing and Real User Monitoring deliver a complete picture of an application's performance under real-world conditions. This helps testing teams pinpoint any and all issues that could impact performance, giving them the opportunity to address these obstacles and ensure the app will perform at its peak every time.

To find about more about SOASTA's solutions for the financial services industry, contact SOASTA today.

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Dante Benedetti Foundation Announces 10th Annual Baseball Classic http://www.soasta.com/press-releases/dante-benedetti-foundation-announces-10th-annual-baseball-classic/ http://www.soasta.com/press-releases/dante-benedetti-foundation-announces-10th-annual-baseball-classic/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 12:00:26 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/?p=471422 Read more »]]> Proceeds to Level Playing Field for Youth Sports and Provide Free AT&T Park Access to 5,000 Students

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., March 24, 2015 – The Dante Benedetti Foundation (DBF), an organization dedicated to helping San Francisco youth through the pursuit of sports, announced that the 10th Annual Dante Benedetti Baseball Classic will be held at AT&T Park on Saturday, March 28, 2015. In partnership with San Francisco RBI (SFRBI), the Foundation is bringing the joy of baseball to students in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). This partnership provides SFUSD students the opportunity to experience baseball by inviting them to be the Foundation’s guests at The Dante Benedetti Classic for free and allowing them to view the games at a big league ballpark.

The first game of the classic will feature the Bruce-Mahoney Trophy game at noon between St. Ignatius College Preparatory and Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory in the oldest high school athletic rivalry west of the Mississippi River. The University of San Francisco Dons and the St. Mary’s College Gaels are featured in the second game of the Classic doubleheader at 3 p.m.

Founded to honor the legacy of the longtime Dons’ baseball coach and San Francisco restaurateur, DBF works to provide financial support to organizations that give San Francisco youths access to baseball, in addition to funding the maintenance of fields, providing equipment and uniforms, and partnering with other Bay Area organizations to ensure all youth have a level playing field in the sport.

“Dante’s generosity to the youth of San Francisco sets a high bar, and we want to continue his legacy,” said Tom Lounibos, a board member for the Dante Benedetti Foundation who played for Benedetti at USF. “Playing under his guidance taught scores of young men not only teamwork and sportsmanship, but life lessons that have helped all of us in our careers. It’s been an honor to follow in his footsteps, and we are looking forward to record attendance at this year’s Classic.”

The Baseball Classic is the foundation’s main fund-raising event. Bay Area Little Leaguers dressed in their baseball uniform also will gain admittance to the games free of charge. For adults and others, general admission is $15. Tickets will be available at AT&T Park the day of the game and through participating schools.

“San Francisco RBI is proud to partner with the Dante Benedetti Foundation and donate 5,000 tickets to the Benedetti Classic to the children we serve in the San Francisco Unified School District and KIPP,” said Jim Messemer, San Francisco RBI Founder and Executive Director. “For our children to be able to attend a game at AT&T Park, some for the very first time, and cheer on the San Francisco Dons baseball team, who volunteer in our program, will be a lifelong memory.”

The Dante Benedetti 10th Annual Baseball Classic is sponsored by Airbnb, David Powell Financial Services, Inc., Don Francisco’s Coffee, San Francisco Police Officers Association (SFPOA), San Francisco RBI (SFRBI), Blueback Global, Inc., SOASTA and Wells Fargo.

About Dante Benedetti Foundation

The mission of the Dante Benedetti Foundation is to facilitate active participation in sports for underserved youth. The organization works to preserve the legacy that Dante Benedetti left the San Francisco community by supporting the development of the next generation of Dante’s boys through the game of baseball. The Dante Benedetti Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation. For more information, please visit www.dantebenedetti.org.

Contact:
Grayling for Dante Benedetti Foundation
Leslie Clavin, 415-593-1166
Leslie.clavin@grayling.com
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Blame the Farmers for the Silos. We’re Just Fixing the Problem With CI & DevOps http://www.soasta.com/soastas-technical-blog/blame-farmers-silos-just-fixing-problem-ci-devops/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-technical-blog/blame-farmers-silos-just-fixing-problem-ci-devops/#comments Sat, 21 Mar 2015 16:07:53 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/?p=471410 Read more »]]> I have always wondered how IT ended up with organizational silos. I came from an aerospace background, and believe me, everything was integrated. If you were building airplanes, you wanted all the systems to work together from day 1 so that nothing bad could happen (a failure there is loss of life, not someone getting paged while they are sleeping). Aerospace was where Integrated Product Teams (or IPTs) were born. All your domain experts on one team. For the entire lifecycle. Made sense.

So, imagine my surprise when one day while sitting in heavy traffic on my way to a client appointment that I finally saw it—right there in front of me. The origin of the IT organization. Taken right from the farm.

So now that I have someone to blame, how to we address this age-old problem while keeping the lights on? How do we get to the ideal DevOps assembly line?

DevOps Blog Image - 1

Easy. We look again to aerospace (after all, aerospace had GPS in 1981, and we just couldn’t tell anyone. “Top Secret” you know). Look at how aerospace built things.

They used IPTs. Sounds simple, right? It is, if you understand that IPTs also mean processes. Not all of them. Just the right ones.

Now back to our silos. Some processes belong in a silo. As an example, you would agree that software design, and coding, belongs in the first silo on the left, or development silo, right? And, that monitoring belongs in the last silo (when looking left to right, of course). No argument there.

Where it gets murky is in the middle silo—the traditional testing silo. And, in the processes that seem to have been lumped into that middle silo. Processes that really are “conveyor belt” support processes. I call them “The Big 3,” because they are the foundation for product development speed and continuity, and coincidentally, they also form what is arguably the baseline for DevOps. They are: Change, Release and Configuration Management.

I would argue that these three run the length of all three silos and are the foundation of the silos. I would argue this because this has already been settled. I’ll point everyone to the US Commercial Software IT Standard, ISO 12207. First published in 1995, long before the catchy DevOps phrase. This was an IT standard written by aerospace company contributors (yep, I was one of them, but somehow you figured that out, right?).

And herein lies the problem in organizations that I see: each silo owns their own piece, but no one silo owns the hand-off from the other. Make sense? It should. That’s where the barriers exist today. The hand-offs. It’s what DevOps is trying to address with technology. The focus should be on the processes. The “Big 3” processes.

Let’s pick on one, as an example. Many organizations have, or had, something called the “Change Advisory Board (CAB)” or “Configuration Advisory Board (CAB).” This group, typically found in the IT Operations silo, was tasked with the ownership of determining whether or not a change, with its associated configuration, was promoted (or released) into production (see why I call it “The Big 3?”). In this case, IT Operations owns the last piece, the promotion, but the early handoffs were not owned by IT operations. Development handed to Test, which then handed off to IT operations, and the CAB.

See the problem? Let’s just fix it with IPTs, right? Well, yes. But today we also have ways to enable those processes. We’ve also invented “cool” terms for the problem. DevOps. Continuous Delivery. Continuous Deployment. Continuous Integration.

The solution is really just enabling better hand-offs between the silos that have been in existence since the farmers went down that path years ago.

I would argue that the middle silo, the testing silo, also contains pieces that should be spread across the other 2 silos. Testing should also be considered a supporting process. Why? Testing needs to start in the development silo—in fact, in most organizations, it already does—with unit testing. It should also extend into the operations silo. Why? You should be testing in production. You want to see how your application really works, and how your users are seeing it. You can only do that in production.

If your tool prevents you from being able to do that, then get one that lets you do that. It’s that simple. The tool should not drive the process. It should be the other way around. So, if you using tools from 1989 and your process is newer than that, then it’s time to fix it.

So, maybe the testing silo really breaks out something along these lines:

DevOps Blog Image - 2

So now that we have focused on the key areas of pain across the lifecycle, what should they look like?

Well, with SOASTA, the processes to solve these issues look like the lifecycle loop below.

To follow the process around the clock:

A requirement change (can be a feature request, a bug fix, etc.) leads to a code change, which leads to a “check-in” using a CI solution, in this case the open source product Jenkins (which, as an aside, is integrated with SOASTA). This then kicks off a test suite, usually, but not always, from the cloud, where the tests are “run” iteratively (hence the runners), while ensuring that platform/device coverage is automated, results are provided (“the truth”), issues resolved, a baseline established, and feedback from real users in the production environment, then we start the process all over again with a new stream (if Agile), or release cycle.

DevOps Blog Image - 3

 

So now the three farm silos running these process scenarios with SOASTA and Jenkins look like a team all working together.

DevOps Blog Image - 4

 

Sounds like a well-oiled machine to me.

It is. This is how SOASTA’s engineering organization builds our software. With several thousand tests per day and hundreds of release cycles and feature streams, this automation cycle is the best practice that keeps the conveyor belt moving along (and, yes, we use our SOASTA software to test. The tools do support the process).

The “Big 3” with performance engineering built into these key conveyor belt processes. Makes perfect sense.

Your take-away: focus and fix the process first. If the tools you are using can’t support this process: get new ones. I’ll say it again: the tools should support the process, not the other way around.

SOASTA’s best practices have helped hundreds of our clients implement this process cycle into their organizations with the goal to improve bottom line performance with speed to market, quality improvement and a laser focus on performance engineering across the lifecycle—all while keeping a laser focus on performance.

Interested in DevOps and the best practices that SOASTA uses to build world class software and how your organization can implement these same best practices in your organization to ensure performance?

Let SOASTA show you how it’s done.

After all, at SOASTA, performance is everything.

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Ensure Your Company is Hitting the Mark: Today’s Top E-Commerce Benchmarks http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/ensure-your-company-is-hitting-the-mark-todays-top-e-commerce-benchmarks/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/ensure-your-company-is-hitting-the-mark-todays-top-e-commerce-benchmarks/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 10:49:22 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/ensure-your-company-is-hitting-the-mark-todays-top-e-commerce-benchmarks/ We've all heard the saying, "The customer is always right." It conveys an important concept that is not only applicable to brick-and-mortar organizations but to e-commerce companies as well, now more so than ever before. 

But how can you be sure that your e-commerce business is doing just that? There are several benchmarks that can help businesses gauge how well they are serving their client base. We identify these benchmarks and discuss some potential strategies that can assist your organization in not only meeting these goals, but also exceeding customers' expectations.

"An important concept that is not only applicable to brick-and-mortar organizations but to e-commerce as well, now more than ever."

Let's dive right in and examine the questions company leaders can ask themselves in relation to today's top e-commerce benchmarks:

Does our company have self-service options available?
Although some customers like to be helped during every step of their buying journey, other clients may be more independent, and prefer to help themselves whenever possible. Company leaders must ensure that their online portals support these needs through self-service options that can help shoppers find what they are looking for and complete their purchase.

But self-service does not begin and end with product searches. According to E-Tailing Group's 17th Annual Mystery Shopping Study, today's customers are seeking other self-service information as well. For instance, researchers found that of the 100 businesses surveyed, 83 percent had a FAQs page available, although only 26 percent allowed this document to be searchable. In addition, while 83 percent of businesses listed their customer service hours on their sites in 2013, only 77 percent did so last year.

Customers should be able to easily find the information they are looking for via the FAQs page, and if the details they are seeking are not available here, they should be able to discern how and when they can reach out to the brand for additional assistance.

How can our company define top customers?
According to Bigcommerce contributor Janessa Lantz, there are several benchmarks that can help an organization better identify its top customers. RJMetrics researchers found that last year, top customers:

  • Spent five times more per order. The top 1 percent had an average order value of $267 or more. However, the majority of a business's customer base – 90 percent – will have average order values around $54.
  • Made four times more purchases. In fact, a company will generate 43 percent of its total revenue from repeat customers like these.
  • Spent 30 times more, according to their Customer Lifetime Value. Lantz noted that CLV is an incredibly important metric, and if your organization is not calculating it currently, it should learn to do so immediately.

"If you're still tracking marketing ROI using metrics like cost of customer acquisition or first purchase, this data should make it overwhelmingly obvious that its time to stop," Lantz wrote. "Your customers are not all the same, and you shouldn't be treating them as if they are. Spending $15 on a customer whose lifetime value is $35 probably isn't a great move, spending $15 on a customer whose lifetime value is $1,050 is a no-brainer."

Learn how to calculate CLV here.

"82 percent of businesses offer a universal shopping cart that can be leveraged on any device."

Is our shopping cart easy to use?
Company leaders should also examine their shopping cart capabilities to ensure that this point of the transaction process is easy for customers to utilize. Currently, 82 percent of the businesses that took part in the E-Tailing Group survey offer a universal shopping cart that can be leveraged on any device. This is a 9 percent increase from the number of retailers offering this capability in 2013.

In addition, 65 percent of companies now enable customers to migrate items from their "wish" or "buy later" lists, a considerable boost from the 54 percent that supported this activity in 2013.

Is our website's performance effective?
Today's benchmarks do not end with the shopping cart. Decision-makers and IT leaders should also take a look at the overall performance of the website to ensure that it is responsive, supports the full range of customer activities and can operate effectively even during peak traffic levels. This is especially critical during a sale or other events when the platform might be flooded with considerably higher traffic than a normal day.

With SOASTA's performance and load testing solutions, your e-commerce company can get an in-depth look at your website's performance, including how the platform reacts under stressful conditions. The metrics and insight provided here are invaluable, and can even offer the opportunity for the business to improve its website to ensure the best customer experience possible.

To find out more about these solutions, contact SOASTA today.

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SOASTA mPulse Delivers Real User Monitoring for $99 a Month http://www.soasta.com/press-releases/soasta-mpulse-delivers-real-user-monitoring-99-month/ http://www.soasta.com/press-releases/soasta-mpulse-delivers-real-user-monitoring-99-month/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 12:00:25 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/?p=471357 Read more »]]>  Industry-leading Performance Analytics now available through self-service option

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., March 17, 2015 – SOASTA, the leader in performance analytics, today announced the release of mPulse Pro, a new addition to the company’s mPulse product line that provides self-service access to enterprise-level Real User Monitoring (RUM) capabilities for as low as $99 per month. The new solution joins the free forever mPulse Lite and the unlimited mPulse Enterprise, providing multiple choices for organizations to start, and expand use of, the most powerful solution for real-time insights into user experience and digital business performance.

NEW in mPulse

  • Family of Products – Choose your entry point and expand use as needed.

 

mPulse99 Release Image
  • Self-service – Tour the live product and sign up online in minutes. The new mPulse Pro service starts at $99 per month, making it the perfect choice for small and mid-sized companies. Simply register online, insert a SOASTA tag into your application, and begin monitoring user experiences in minutes.
  • Predictive Analytics – Quickly analyze which business processes to optimize based on “What If?” ROI calculations derived from real business data. Understand potential gains or negative impact of performance changes. For example: if response time decreases by 100 milliseconds, predict the impact on revenue for a set of mobile users by geography or operating system to prioritize optimization efforts.
  • Integrated Data Science Workbench- mPulse Enterprise now includes the powerful Data Science Workbench. Use this analytics platform to mine real user and 3rd party data sources for answers and insights never available before. For example: understand your most profitable click paths, the peak second of usage, and the cost of a second – or millisecond – of downtime.
  • Ease of Use – SOASTA continues a relentless focus on UI improvements and stunning visualizations to improve productivity of Dev and Ops teams.  Added in this release, a new flipbook mode enables teams to compare dashboards side by side, as well as instantly view status on mobile devices.

“Performance Analytics based on real user behavior is changing how SOASTA customers make business decisions,” said Tom Lounibos, CEO of SOASTA. “By expanding the RUM options for our customers of any size and any industry, we are opening up the leading performance analytics platform to ensure the best possible online experience for digital business owners and their end users.”

Availability
 mPulse Pro is available immediately. Sign up and get a quick demo HERE.

About SOASTA:

SOASTA is the leader in performance analytics. The SOASTA platform enables digital business owners to gain unprecedented and continuous performance insights into their real user experience on mobile and Web devices – in real time, and at scale. With more than 10 million tests performed and more than 100 billion user experiences measured, SOASTA is the digital performance expert trusted by industry-leading companies including Experian, Hallmark, Intuit and Microsoft. SOASTA is privately held and headquartered in Mountain View, Calif. For more information about SOASTA, please visit http://www.soasta.com.

SOASTA is a registered trademark of SOASTA, Inc. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners. Other product or company names mentioned may be trademarks or trade names of their respective companies.

CONTACT:    

Sara Black, Grayling

Sara.black@grayling.com

213.618.1501

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Got a Minute? How to Speed up Page Load Times http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/got-a-minute-how-to-speed-up-page-load-times/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/got-a-minute-how-to-speed-up-page-load-times/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 12:03:47 +0000 https://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/got-a-minute-how-to-speed-up-page-load-times/ In today’s environment, consumers simply aren’t willing to wait for more than a few seconds for a page to load before moving onto something else. With a multitude of other options at their fingertips, chances are high that they will be able to find what they’re looking for elsewhere – and that this content will load more quickly.

According to KISSmetrics, page load times can have an enormous impact on e-commerce brands, especially when it comes to its bottom line. Researchers found that 47 percent of shoppers expect pages to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40 percent will abandon a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Slow pages can easily lead to a considerable amount of lost customer connections, along with revenue.

“47% of shoppers expect pages to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% will abandon a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.”

So what can businesses do to speed up their page load times? Let’s take a look at some of today’s top strategies:

HTTP/2: The new standard in Web browsing
The industry as a whole has been working to improve the speed of the web, and at the beginning of 2015 researchers took a huge step toward faster browsing speeds with the finalization of HTTP/2.

HTTP/2 is the next installment of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, and it represents the largest change made on this front in more than a decade when HTTP 1.1 was first rolled out. The Next Web contributor Owen Williams noted that HTTP/2 allows for numerous Web requests to be delivered simultaneously, so page load times won’t be as hampered by a flood of Web traffic.

“The new standard brings a number of benefits to one of the Web’s core technologies, such as faster page loads, longer-lived connections, more items arriving sooner and server push,” Williams wrote. “HTTP/2 also uses significantly fewer connections, hopefully resulting in lower load for servers and networks.”

Currently, HTTP/2 is in the testing phase, during which developers can perform trials with the protocol before it is rolled out across the Web. Williams is hopeful that it won’t be long until HTTP/2 is published and available in its final form.

Databases and content delivery
There are also approaches that businesses can take with their individual websites to help reduce page load times. Search Engine Land contributor Daniel Cristo noted that administrators can take another look at their databases and content delivery networks to speed up load times.

Optimizing databases through the use of an index can help information be found quicker, thereby shortening the time users have to wait for pages to load. Think of it like a table of contents in a book that makes details easier to locate based on their subject matter.

“Instead of having to scan millions of records, your database can rely on an index to narrow down the data to a few hundred,” Cristo wrote. “This helps the data get returned to the page much faster.”

Cristo also pointed out that using content delivery networks, which have servers all over the world, can help reduce wait times for users no matter their location. Without such a network of data centers in place, content is delivered from wherever the brand’s main servers are located. So, for example, if the company’s servers are situated in a facility in Texas, users in that area will see faster load times than those in other locations that are farther away. With multiple data center locations at its disposal through the CDN, the brand’s content can be delivered from the server closest to the user, cutting down on the time it takes for information to travel across the web.

“One of the best ways to improve page loading times is by identifying the areas of the website that might be causing delays with performance and load tests. “

Performance testing in the cloud
One of the best ways to improve page loading times is by identifying the areas of the website that might be causing delays with performance and load tests. With performance and load testing solutions from SOASTA, organizations are able to pinpoint any issues that might be causing their websites to load slowly, allowing for the opportunity to address these problems and increase their speed.

Best of all, SOASTA’s testing solutions leverage the cloud, which ComputerWorldUK noted, is one of the most ideal ways to test a website’s performance.

“By allowing test teams to instantly deploy existing performance test scripts to cloud-based load generators, the load is created on pre-configured systems provisioned in the cloud,” ComputerWorldUK stated. “This eliminates the effort and cost related to extending the on-premise test infrastructure which only the highest load scenarios would need. In addition, these cloud-based services also provide a diagnosis of any performance problems which are encountered, giving teams the detailed diagnostics they need to identify the nature and location of the potential problems.”

To find out more about how performance and load testing can help reduce page load times, contact SOASTA today.

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There’s Nothing Cloudy About Testing in Production http://www.soasta.com/soastas-technical-blog/theres-nothing-cloudy-testing-production/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-technical-blog/theres-nothing-cloudy-testing-production/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 19:08:01 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/?p=471327 Read more »]]> I recently read a blog post on @CiscoCloud written by Nick Earle (@nearle), titled: “Why Hybrid Cloud Delivers better Business Agility.”

There were some great points in the post, and there is one that sticks out like a Cumulonimbus thunderhead on a hot, sticky South Florida summer afternoon that I’d like to explore further.

Hybrid Cloud Blog Post Image

That point is the one around using the cloud in the Dev/Test scenario (and whether it’s public, private, or hybrid for the purposes of my discussion is a moot point).

Certainly using the cloud to drive load into a test environment isn’t new anymore. Using this same cloud to drive load into production has been something that SOASTA, with it’s CloudTest product, has been doing successfully since 2008 to the tune of over 10 Million tests executed to date. And counting…

I wholeheartedly buy-in to the basic philosophy of the blog, “own the base, rent the spike.” That “spike” is load being generated from the cloud to simulate user traffic.

In the Dev/Test scenario, the real “spike” is the load, is it not?

The only time it doesn’t make sense to test in production is if your testing configuration (e.g. environment, tools, etc.) has the ability to bring down production, right? And the only way that you can bring down production is by not having real-time visibility into what impact your test is having on the environment—during the test—from the analytics provided by the performance testing environment and the technology that you are using to drive the test.

My take away here is that if you have the innovation and thought leadership in your organization to understand that the cloud is your friend, then continue along that path with your performance testing solutions. Find the one that gives you real-time analytics during your test, and get rid of the technology that is forcing you to own and to rent your own base—the data center. That in my mind delivers business agility.

We speak from the experience of having conducted 10 Million tests (and still counting).

Here’s a sneak peek:

You Can't Get There From Here Blog Pic 2

Performance IS Everything. SOASTA.

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What Today’s Customers Want From e-Commerce Retailers http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/what-do-todays-customers-want-from-e-commerce-retailers/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/what-do-todays-customers-want-from-e-commerce-retailers/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2015 16:11:48 +0000 https://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/what-do-todays-customers-want-from-e-commerce-retailers/ Today’s e-commerce retailers spend a considerable amount of time and resources just to gain insights into one very important factor: What is it that customers want?

Customer demands have considerably shifted in recent years. Now, consumers want more than just the ability to purchase items and sign up for services through online portals. They are also looking for increased personalization as well as an end-user experience that is efficient, enjoyable and successful.

In order to figure out the answer to this critical question, we examined several recent studies that shed light on what consumers are looking for from their favorite e-commerce brands.

“Studies show online shoppers are driven to connect with retailers on the mobile platform due to ease of use and additional discounts.”

Mobile capabilities
Mobile capabilities have become an integral part of e-commerce, enabling consumers to research, shop and make purchases from their handheld hardware from nearly anywhere – including within retailer’s brick-and-mortar locations. According to a recent study from PricewaterhouseCoopers, online shoppers are driven to connect with retailers on the mobile platform due to ease of use and additional discounts. However, many users feel uncomfortable with the way brands leverage consumer mobile devices for location targeting.

The survey found that over half – 52 percent – of survey participants opted to utilize online channels because they saw more discounts and specials, lowering the ultimate price of their purchases. Another 47 percent chose to shop online because e-commerce allows for round-the-clock transactions, whereas brick-and-mortar locations have specific service hours during which purchases can be made.

The study also discovered that online shopping allowed consumers to do their research before finalizing their transaction with a specific brand. For instance, when looking for a certain product, shoppers can check competitor prices through online channels. This is a capability that 45 percent of survey participants enjoy.

At the same time, however, the study also discovered that only about one-third of those surveyed saw the benefits of mobile phone location targeting. Although this enables retailers to offer specific coupons and deals when users were near a store site, many customers found it invasive.

Cross-channel offerings 
In addition, PwC researchers found that online channels weren’t only used for making purchases. In fact, more than half of survey participants – 65 percent – noted that they only research and browse for items online. After examining the products through e-commerce channels, these consumers head to brick-and-mortar locations to carry out their transactions to avoid shipping costs.

This illustrates how online channels – including a company’s website and mobile app – can be utilized to connect with different types of customers,  including those that prefer purchasing products in-store. In order to ensure that all customers have an enjoyable experience, however, retailers must guarantee the robust performance of their available channels. One of the most beneficial ways to do this is through performance and load testing, which can allow brands to gain insights about their online presence and bolster the performance of their websites and mobile apps.

“Customers will spend more with a brand when their shopping experience isn’t just the run-of-the-mill.”

A personalized shopping experience 
In addition to prioritizing online and mobile channels, recent research shows that personalization is now a main goal for many brands. In fact, a study from MyBuys showed that customers spend more when their shopping experience isn’t run-of-the-mill.

In particular, the survey found that more than half – 53 percent – of consumers will make higher value transactions with retailers that utilize past browsing or purchasing behaviors to recommend products.

“Consumers want consistent personalization everywhere they shop and on every device they use,” noted Rita Brogley, MyBuys president and CEO. “By incorporating more tailored content and offers into their marketing strategies, retailers can improve brand loyalty, boost conversion and increase sales. Consumers engage and shop more when they receive a truly personalized shopping experience across all channels.”

This trend also shines a spotlight on the importance of providing an enjoyable user experience across all Web and mobile platforms. In order to successfully offer a custom shopping experience, retailers must ensure that the performance and page load times of their websites and apps are up to par. By testing these platforms with the industry-leading solutions from SOASTA, companies can see exactly where performance problems are occurring, and can work to mitigate these issues. With a robustly performing website and app available, businesses are in a better position to provide the personalization that today’s customers are seeking.

To find out more about website and application performance testing, contact SOASTA today.

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Big Data & Performance Analytics Tools Help Online Businesses Master User Experience http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/big-data-performance-analytics-tools-help-online-businesses-master-user-experience/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/big-data-performance-analytics-tools-help-online-businesses-master-user-experience/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 19:47:49 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/?p=471265 Read more »]]> There’s no mystery about how to achieve market leadership in any industry. The top businesses simply become better than their competitors at shaping the customer experience. A Gartner analyst projects that companies will compete primarily on customer experience by the end of next year. Their research revealed that the top demand on CMOs, far outpacing any other demand, is to lead their enterprises in developing excellence in customer interactions from end to end.

Online businesses in particular must master online user experience because they don’t have any other customer touch points. These businesses must leverage all the latest technologies, like the cloud, bid data and performance analytics, to gain firm control over their business results.

Customer experience is what differentiates businesses in today’s more competitive global marketplace. They can no longer rely on excellence in product quality or unique innovations. The competition is able to leapfrog value propositions with better features and more diverse functions with shorter development cycles. Competing on price is a one-way path to zero margins.

The bright spot in this gloomy market assessment is the unlimited upside in customer experience. Harris Interactive determined that 86 percent of consumers would be happy to pay a premium of at least 25 percent to have a better customer experience.

The primary challenge businesses face is how to determine what customers define as excellence in customer experience. It is easier to discover what they consider a bad experience because customers tend to be very vocal on every social network when something goes wrong. That’s why paying attention to the right testing and performance metrics has become more important than ever.

The performance metrics that matter most in determining positive business outcomes from the customer experience are how well customers are engaged, how many visitors convert to customers and the relationship between specific customer segments and associated revenues. Businesses need to understand results of load testing and performance testing from the customer’s point of view. To be valuable, reporting must be easily reconfigurable, customized to individual business goals and able to deliver results in real time.

Fortunately, businesses now have new tools for taking charge of a brand’s value and online reputation with the assistance of advanced technology. SOASTA mPulse represents one of the best ways to gain insight into user behavior on mobile and web apps. This advanced real-user monitoring (RUM) analytical tool offers 100 percent visibility into users’ interactions in real-time, which puts the business back in control of customer experience and business results.

Customer experience is now mission critical for businesses of all sizes. Actionable intelligence is the backbone of that elemental shift in what it takes to succeed in this new mobile world.

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Spring break boosts online traffic: Be prepared for vacationers http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/spring-break-boosts-online-traffic-be-prepared-for-vacationers-2/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/spring-break-boosts-online-traffic-be-prepared-for-vacationers-2/#comments Sat, 07 Mar 2015 21:40:24 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/spring-break-boosts-online-traffic-be-prepared-for-vacationers-2/ Spring break is right around the corner. For many students – and those that just need a break from the cold and snow – this is a time to get away from it all and travel somewhere warm and sunny for a vacation.

For airlines, car rental businesses, retailers and others in the travel, hospitality and e-commerce industries, this means one thing: Customers will be in a rush to book travel arrangements and purchase items for their trips. And with the convenience and ease available through Internet-based portals, many consumers will look to online channels for their spring break needs.

"Businesses in the travel and retail sectors must be ready for customers in order to offer them the best experience possible."

However, businesses in the travel and retail sectors must be ready for these customers in order to offer them the best experience possible. Traffic spikes can directly impact the performance of a website or application, so preparing ahead of time with performance and load tests is key.

Where are spring breakers going?
Although spring break often conjures images of college students drinking cocktails on the beach, these aren't the only people that look to get away this time of year. Other adults take vacations as well, whether it's to escape work or just take a break from the harsh winter.

According to a Yahoo Travel survey of 2,000 participants, 27 percent of those polled are planning to travel during the spring of 2015. Yahoo also asked about these individuals' destination plans, and found that most survey participants – 35 percent – plan to hit the beach for their spring break vacations. Another 17 percent said they have a cruise in mind, and 12 percent are planning a trip to an amusement park.

This survey offers a number of insights for retailers and companies in the travel and hospitality industries. First, hotels near these locations should prepare for an influx of guests. Airlines that offer flights to the coasts or other warm locations should get ready for increased demands. And retailers that sell items associated with these kinds of trips – bathing suits, beach towels, etc. – should ensure their inventory is stocked.

This also means that more consumers will be visiting the online portals that offer these types of services. Hotels and airlines, for example, will likely see increased traffic in the weeks leading up to spring break as customers make their travel arrangements. E-commerce companies will also see traffic spikes as vacationers shop for the perfect pair of flip flops and matching sun hat. In addition, these companies should be ready for the rush of last minute travelers that may seek out their services in March and April. 

"An influx of online traffic, while good for the business, can also cause website performance to suffer if brands aren't prepared."

All this traffic, while good for the business, can also cause website performance to suffer if brands aren't prepared. Companies in these industries can't afford to lose sales and revenue because of a website crash. For this reason, it is imperative that these organizations prep their online portals with performance and load testing that can help ensure that, even during traffic spikes and rising demand, their websites will be able to support users' needs and can deliver the services their customers are looking for.

Mobile preparedness: Top spring break apps
However, a company's website isn't the only aspect of the enterprise that should be ready for an influx of spring break-related needs. Trip Smarter found that travelers will also look to use an array of mobile apps, including those that offer weather predictions, on-demand taxi service, streaming music and other entertainment programs. These are among the top apps that users will likely leverage during their spring break travels, and the brands behind these programs must be ready as well.

Mobile app testing can offer invaluable insights in these regards. Testing in real time can show just how many users the app can support, and where improvements will need to be made to ensure availability.

Whether preparing your mobile app, website or both, there is only one place your business needs to turn for its performance testing needs. SOASTA's industry leading testing solutions – including those for both the online and mobile platforms – can help your company ensure it is ready to cater to spring break travelers and reap the benefits of the increased demands that surge at this time of year. 

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Spring break boosts online traffic: Be prepared for vacationers http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/spring-break-boosts-online-traffic-be-prepared-for-vacationers/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/spring-break-boosts-online-traffic-be-prepared-for-vacationers/#comments Sat, 07 Mar 2015 21:40:24 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/spring-break-boosts-online-traffic-be-prepared-for-vacationers/ Spring break is right around the corner. For many students – and those that just need a break from the cold and snow – this is a time to get away from it all and travel somewhere warm and sunny for a vacation.

For airlines, car rental businesses, retailers and others in the travel, hospitality and e-commerce industries, this means one thing: Customers will be in a rush to book travel arrangements and purchase items for their trips. And with the convenience and ease available through Internet-based portals, many consumers will look to online channels for their spring break needs.

"Businesses in the travel and retail sectors must be ready for customers in order to offer them the best experience possible."

However, businesses in the travel and retail sectors must be ready for these customers in order to offer them the best experience possible. Traffic spikes can directly impact the performance of a website or application, so preparing ahead of time with performance and load tests is key.

Where are spring breakers going?
Although spring break often conjures images of college students drinking cocktails on the beach, these aren't the only people that look to get away this time of year. Other adults take vacations as well, whether it's to escape work or just take a break from the harsh winter.

According to a Yahoo Travel survey of 2,000 participants, 27 percent of those polled are planning to travel during the spring of 2015. Yahoo also asked about these individuals' destination plans, and found that most survey participants – 35 percent – plan to hit the beach for their spring break vacations. Another 17 percent said they have a cruise in mind, and 12 percent are planning a trip to an amusement park.

This survey offers a number of insights for retailers and companies in the travel and hospitality industries. First, hotels near these locations should prepare for an influx of guests. Airlines that offer flights to the coasts or other warm locations should get ready for increased demands. And retailers that sell items associated with these kinds of trips – bathing suits, beach towels, etc. – should ensure their inventory is stocked.

This also means that more consumers will be visiting the online portals that offer these types of services. Hotels and airlines, for example, will likely see increased traffic in the weeks leading up to spring break as customers make their travel arrangements. E-commerce companies will also see traffic spikes as vacationers shop for the perfect pair of flip flops and matching sun hat. In addition, these companies should be ready for the rush of last minute travelers that may seek out their services in March and April. 

"An influx of online traffic, while good for the business, can also cause website performance to suffer if brands aren't prepared."

All this traffic, while good for the business, can also cause website performance to suffer if brands aren't prepared. Companies in these industries can't afford to lose sales and revenue because of a website crash. For this reason, it is imperative that these organizations prep their online portals with performance and load testing that can help ensure that, even during traffic spikes and rising demand, their websites will be able to support users' needs and can deliver the services their customers are looking for.

Mobile preparedness: Top spring break apps
However, a company's website isn't the only aspect of the enterprise that should be ready for an influx of spring break-related needs. Trip Smarter found that travelers will also look to use an array of mobile apps, including those that offer weather predictions, on-demand taxi service, streaming music and other entertainment programs. These are among the top apps that users will likely leverage during their spring break travels, and the brands behind these programs must be ready as well.

Mobile app testing can offer invaluable insights in these regards. Testing in real time can show just how many users the app can support, and where improvements will need to be made to ensure availability.

Whether preparing your mobile app, website or both, there is only one place your business needs to turn for its performance testing needs. SOASTA's industry leading testing solutions – including those for both the online and mobile platforms – can help your company ensure it is ready to cater to spring break travelers and reap the benefits of the increased demands that surge at this time of year. 

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E-commerce KPI: Study reveals industry benchmarks http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/e-commerce-kpi-study-reveals-industry-benchmarks/ http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/e-commerce-kpi-study-reveals-industry-benchmarks/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 16:35:43 +0000 http://www.soasta.com/soastas-trends-blog/e-commerce-kpi-study-reveals-industry-benchmarks/ In the current digital marketplace, data analysis is everything. This information allows companies to see which areas of their website are performing well and which are in need of improvement and can help prove the value of various investments. However, with all the data floating around, it can sometimes be difficult to know what to focus on.

When it comes to website performance, there are a number of different benchmarks to take into account. Load times, bounce rates, time spent on certain pages … the list goes on and on. But which of these figures are critical and which should receive a lower priority? And how do the metrics of your website compare with those of the industry overall? Let's examine the top benchmarks being leveraged today and what they can mean for your company.

Today's top KPIs

"Key performance indicators can tell quite the story about your website."

Key performance indicators can tell quite the story about your website, as eCommerce Insiders contributor Pawel Grabowski noted that these numbers can also help identify potential website issues while reducing the risk of customer loss. But which statistics qualify as "key"?

There are several measurements company leaders should pay attention to, particularly when it comes to their website's traffic, advertising and social media:

  • Traffic: When looking at KPIs related to website traffic, stakeholders should examine the number of page views, the overall bounce rate and the types of traffic coming to the page. These metrics will show how many visitors use each page, how long they stay on the website and what channels they use to get there.
  • Advertising: Grabowski recommended paying special attention to the pay-per-click cost per acquisition as well as the pay-per-click total conversions. This information can help measure the success of specific marketing campaigns and assist administrators in judging if their spend in these areas is in the best interest of the company.
  • Social Media: Social networking metrics have become increasingly important and should be included in the company's statistical analysis. During this examination, business leaders should take a look at Facebook's number of likes for each post, as well as how their organization ranks on the "talking about this" graph. In addition, administrators can also investigate the amount of retweets the company sees on Twitter and how many new followers it gets on each respective platform.

While by no means an extensive list, these KPIs are key and can help the company craft strategies for driving more traffic to the website and retaining visitors for longer.

"By tracking various KPIs, you are able to spot and react to changes … really quickly, ultimately reducing the losses in your online business," Grabowski wrote.

Industry comparison: Industry averages

"Although performance metrics can be helpful, they must be examined within the right context."

Although metrics like these can be helpful, they must be examined within the right context. For example, companies shouldn't limit their scope to current figures, but should compare this information with historical data as well for a more complete picture. It can also be advantageous to see how a business's performance compares with others in its given industry.

A recent Moz study did just this, and offers insight into the average KPI metrics for the e-commerce industry. Researchers included 30 websites in the study, which gleaned a combined 56 million visits between Aug. 1, 2013 and July 30, 2014. Key findings included:

  • The average bounce rate experienced was 35 percent.
  • The typical user stayed on a website for just under 4 minutes.
  • The average conversion rate was 1.4 percent.
  • Almost half of all website traffic – 43 percent – came from mobile devices.
  • Mobile users generated 26 percent of total revenue.
  • Desktop users accounted for the most sessions overall with 57 percent.
  • Desktop users also generated the highest conversion rate, at 1.8 percent. Tablets and smartphones saw 1.37 percent and 0.61 percent conversion rates respectively.

While the majority of these figures can be used as concrete comparisons, Moz did clarify its conversion measurements.

"Well, remember the conversion measured here is a sale," Moz contributor Alan Coleman explained. "If your conversion rate is lower than the study average don't fire your CMO straight away; check if your average transaction value is higher. If they balance each other out you are all good – if they don't it's time to start digging deeper."

No matter what specific KPI is being examined, it's important to have the most reliable and up-to-date information possible. This is where SOASTA's e-commerce solutions can be so valuable. By measuring and testing performance metrics including page load times and response times of individual features, businesses can gain a more in-depth view of its overall standing.

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