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Why a Digital Operations Center (DOC) must be a central part of your digital strategy

I usually don’t mix business and politics — especially with the 2016 US presidential race heating up like beach sand on a hot, sunny July day in Florida — but I’m going to break from that rule just this once. Why, you ask? Well, in US politics, these early days consist of a stage full of podiums in order to accommodate every candidate running for the office.

Kind of reminds me of something I see almost every day in my travels around the globe.

Today’s e-business and e-commerce leaders typically have a “stage” full of podiums for each and every different type of customer experience (CX) metric that they wish to measure or monitor during their typical business day. Why? Well, just like all the different political candidates, each and every metric has a different platform. And, each and every metric has its own display mechanism, usually consisting of its own window to the world, as in the case of the fictional (?) digital operational center below.

NOC

And, frankly, if you’re serious about your digital strategy, you can’t be serious if the pulse of your business relies on a room full of people keeping their eye on a room full of individual monitors, each loudly displaying their own view of the world.

To put it frankly…

You have no control

You can’t easily change views, change roles, change outcomes.

You have no correlation

None of the data that these monitors displays has the capability to interact with another set of data being displayed on another monitor, thus allowing the different siloed organizations in your company to share data, share insights, and resolve problems (That’s why they are on different monitors, yes?)

You have no collaboration

Each team or group within your organization is responsible for a different view of your business. And none of these silos interact with other. Your marketing team watching Adobe Analytics watches one set of displays. Your IT Operations team watches another set of displays showing application performance monitoring (APM) data.

Neither team views, understands or takes action on, any data in in any view that is not their own.

Is that really a best practice going forward in your digital strategy?

There has to be a better way. And there is. It’s time for you to see the DOC. Meet SOASTA’s game changing DOC, your Digital Operations Center.

You want digital transformation? Start with measuring the entire CX process

Today’s digital world has been laser-focused on user experience (UX), and rightly so. However, user experience only looks at users. Part of any digital strategy must be an attention to detail around the most important experience of all: customer experience (CX). After all, that’s where the revenue is, right?

In both of the photos above, the silos jump right out at you. Whether it’s the presidential candidates standing at the podiums, or the 2×2 rows of displays in the operations center above, they are still silos.

In the case of the US politics and podiums, the solution is: only one survives. In the case of the operations center, there is a solution that’s far better than the survival of the fittest.

Collaborate, correlate and control: A real-world DOC use case

Let’s take a use case around the silos that I identified above: Marketing and IT Operations. And let’s make the example even more real world by sprinkling in the performance team, because, after all, they are a responsible party to this as well.

Let’s define the use case/scenario

Let’s say an e-retailer frequently runs A/B tests. They would like to keep a continuous eye on conversion rates and revenue on both sides. In addition, they would like the ability to correlate any IT-related performance issues using their APM suites. They also run SOASTA CloudTest for low-level performance testing during this period. Ditto for another solution that drives synthetic traffic randomly across the site.

They would like this information correlated and displayed on one view when certain conditions are hit (e.g. conversion rate or revenue dips due to impact from the performance issues, or response time slows which impacts conversions.) The key data metrics that they are interested in during this scenario are:

  • conversion rate, revenue (from Adobe Analytics in this use case),
  • application performance (from several network and application monitoring solutions in this case),
  • page load times, response times, and other key user/customer experience data (in this case from SOASTA’s mPulse), as well as
  • active low-level performance test metrics (in this case from SOASTA CloudTest).

As it stands now, they have about 6-12 people sit in a room watching stacks of monitors, much like the room shown above. The only way collaboration occurs is if the people doing the watching turn around and talk to one another.  The only way correlation of the displayed data occurs is if this collaboration involves discussing the data points that they may be monitoring.

What about control? Each one of them may have the ability to drill down into a deeper level within their own data set, but certainly not across the silos.

So, what would this use case look like with the DOC?

Now let’s walk through that same use case, except slide the SOASTA DOC in place of the silos and rows of eyeballs watching a 2×2 row of monitors.

DOC-LinkedIn

In our retail example, the DOC is the central point for the digital business, as this retailer has removed the 2×2 rows of monitors and replaced them with the SOASTA DOC.

In addition — as the IT Operations team resides in Florida, and the QA Performance team resides in Bangalore, and the marketing team sits in Washington, DC — the DOC actually sits in three different locations.  During normal operations, each group/silo has their own role-based, customized views. As marketing measures revenue and conversion rates (with SOASTA mPulse) and other marketing analytics (from Adobe or Google Analytics), the IT Operations has chosen to have all their traditional APM solutions fed into the DOC display as their central view. And meanwhile, in Bangalore, the QA Performance team is watching their low-level performance tests with SOASTA’s CloudTest and their synthetic monitoring data from another outside solution, such as Rigor or Gomez.

So as the dawn of a new business day starts for the marketing group in Washington, DC, so does a day of A/B testing using coupons which have been e-mailed/advertised for this week’s special sale. Of course, the retailer’s social media feeds have also posted information on the sales and are being monitored in the DOC by the marketing/social media team.

As the morning wears on, and the sun rises across the USA, the site starts to have performance issues on the “B” side.

However, instead of a slow — or no — reaction time from the eyeballs watching rows of 2×2 monitors, the DOC picks up the trends of declining conversion rate, revenue, page load time and other UX and CX data, at the same time that the DOC is also picking up an issue from the performance test metrics in form of an edge server from the CDN provider having performance issues impacting the delivery of content to the “B” side users and APM alerts from the IT Operations systems.

The DOC correlates this data, and alerts each team in more than one manner. As the DOC correlates the data and issue, the DOC changes the view for each remote DOC (e.g. Marketing, IT Operations, and the QA Performance team) to centrally highlight the issues being seen (e.g. declining revenue and conversion rate) as well as what appears to be the root cause — the edge server delivering content from the CDN provider. As these changes cascade across the DOC,  key personnel also having personal versions of the DOC, in the form of mobile tablets (iPads) and mobile phones (iPhones), are receiving the alerts and changed displays highlighting the current issue.

Now doesn’t this scenario sound a lot better than relying on a vast swath of monitors and a room full of people watching those monitors? (Assuming that they are watching the monitors and haven’t stepped out for lunch or distracted by text messages and email on their smartphones!) Of course it does.

And just imagine — this is only one use case.

The DOCtor is in!

FREE DOWNLOAD: Getting started with a digital operations center ebook

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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.

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