How did your web site stand up on Black-Friday and Cyber-Monday (Nov 28th and Dec 1st 2014)? These were expected to be the most frenetic online shopping days of the year. Whether you are an online retailer or processing the payments generated, if you were able to maintain a good customer experience and complete transactions on these busiest of days, hopefully the rest of the year was a cake walk!
Meeting the challenge requires a mature approach to managing your online presence as recent Quocirca research shows. The new report (see link at the end of this post) shows consumer-facing organisations to be more advanced in this regard than organisations that deal only with other businesses. They have to be; on average, consumer-facing organisations deal with three times as many registered users online as their non-consumer-facing counterparts. They also know that consumers are more impatient and capricious.
The report identifies seven things that consumer-facing organisations are more likely to be doing to rise to the online maturity challenge. Any organisation that underperformed on Black-Friday, Cyber-Monday or at any other time should follow their lead.
1: Monitor performance
Most organisations have some sort of capability to monitor the performance of their web sites and online applications. However, consumer-facing organisations are much more likely to be focussed on metrics to do with the user experience whilst their non-consumer-facing counter parts fret about bandwidth and system information. Consumer-facing organisations are able to do this because the platform basics are often outsourced.
2: Outsource infrastructure
Consumer-facing organisations free themselves to focus on delivering the applications and websites that are core to their business and avoid getting bogged down with infrastructure issues that are not. This includes the infrastructure on which their online resources are deployed as well as supporting services such as DNS management, content distribution and security. Indeed, a key finding of the new survey is that better security is now seen as one of the top benefits of cloud-based services.
3: Outsource security
Nearly all aspects of security were more likely to be outsourced by consumer-facing organisations. This includes emergency DDoS protection, malware detection and blocking, advanced threat detection, security information and event management (SIEM) and fraud detection. The motivators for this are that applications and users are in the cloud, so the security needs to be too and, as with the base infrastructure, leaving security to experts further frees staff to focus directly on the user experience.
4: Deploy advanced security
It is not just that consumer-facing organisations are using cloud-based security, the protection they have in place is also more advanced. Non-consumer-facing organisations are more likely to rely on older technologies such as host-based malware protection and intrusion detection systems (IDS). Consumer-facing organisations have these capabilities too, but are much more likely to supplement them with state of the art advance security systems, be they outsourced or deployed in-house.
5: Take a granular approach
No two consumers are exactly the same; they will be using different devices, different browsers and have varying access speeds based on their network connection and geographic location. Consumer-facing organisations are more likely to monitor such things and adjust the way they respond to individual users accordingly.
6: Link the user experience metrics with business success
Having all sorts of capabilities to monitor the user experience is all well and good, but it is even more useful if it can be shown how variable delivery affects the business. Consumer-facing organisations are more likely to have a strong capability to do this, linking metrics to revenue and customer loyalty.
7: Find the budget to do all this
Of course putting all these capabilities in place has a cost. However, that is no barrier for the most forward thinking consumer-facing organisations; they are almost twice as likely to be increasing the budget for supporting online resources as their non-consumer-facing counterparts. Just throwing money at a problem is never an answer in its own right, but if the spending is well-focussed it can make real difference as those that coped best over the last few days will surely know.
Organisations that only deal with other businesses may say; ‘what has all this got to do with us?‘ Well, as more and more digital natives enter the work place they will bring their consumer expectations and habits with them. All businesses need a razor-sharp focus on the online experience. For those that fail to do so, it will not just be Black-Friday and Cyber-Monday that they lose business; it will be every day of the year.
*The report was sponsored by Neustar (a supplier of online security and monitoring services) and is free to download at this this link: