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Data alone is not enough. Businesses need to invest in strategic tools to better analyse and measure data
As 2020 draws to a close, the coronavirus pandemic that has brought unprecedented disruption to the world has forced many businesses to accelerate their digital transformation efforts.
No matter which industry you operate in, data is going to play an even bigger role in the months ahead as digital transactions continue to be favoured over those made face-to-face.
Yet one question that many businesses are asking themselves is how they can effectively harness the data they are collecting today, and translate it into meaningful and actionable insights.
Data from customers enables businesses to better understand the customer experience, identify which products are performing or underperforming, and even price products optimally.
Such insights, however, are not immediately available from raw data that’s collected from website traffic or server logs. They require deeper analysis.
At the same time, many businesses struggle to find a common way to measure the effectiveness of their website and indeed the digital customer experience because they use different tools and instrumentation to analyse the data, resulting in departmental and technological silos.
“Before you can think about the kind of insights you want, you have to have enough meaningful data from which to derive the insights, and there is a breakthrough barrier, so to speak, to achieving that data threshold,” says Mr Ben Goodman, senior vice-president of Asia at New Relic, a cloud-based observability platform that helps businesses track and optimise website and application performance.
“Anything up until that point doesn't deliver any material business value,” he adds. “And so, the question then becomes: Why do so many firms struggle to break through that barrier and uncover those valuable insights?”
A gap in the data
A core issue here is the growing gap between the people building the digital services — the developers — and those making important decisions.
Developers are being pressured by business units to innovate and make data driven-decisions, but are often not given the tools they need to use at infinitum — largely due to commercial constraints associated with the way technology investments are made.
Unfortunately, by not giving developers the tools and insights they need, the business will find it challenging to use the data from its digital services meaningfully.
“Businesses want to get a deeper understanding of their customers,” says Mr Goodman. “They want to get closer to them by understanding their behaviours and crafting products and services that both attract and retain them.
“Then on the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got your technological talent — your developers — who are capable of delivering the kinds of insights that the business is after, but are hamstrung in their ability to execute due to dated commercial models of technological investment and instrumentation,” he explains.
Businesses that empower their developers to do what they need to do with the right technology will be the ones coming out on top in a post-pandemic world, he adds.
A better way forward
What businesses need is a highly scalable, observability platform that connects all of a system’s telemetry data — metrics, events, logs, and traces — in one platform to eliminate data silos, and provide greater visibility into their tech stack.
They also need a platform that can generate data visualisations and dashboards that can be easily consumed by decision makers who appreciate the influence that the customer experience has on the company’s bottom line.
An example of a real-time executive dashboard in the retail space, highlighting the average monetary value of both successful and abandoned shopping carts (broken down by day), site visitors, and overall purchase conversion. Photo: New Relic
Key to this is having information from two sources that have been traditionally seen as separate: insights on customer behaviour and operating infrastructure.
Traditionally, developers have had to prioritise which infrastructure components they wanted to monitor. They may have tried to monitor the ones that had the best customer insight, but they simply didn’t have the data, tools, or investment to do it to the level required. It’s not a model that works sufficiently in practice or at scale, nor does it promote a positive developer experience.
Businesses need to understand how their overall business goals of improving and refining the customer experience directly correlates with the tools that they provide their developers.
The big question for the business, then, is structuring the investment smartly.
The way Amazon has transformed how IT services are delivered and consumed offers a clue. Its pay-as-you-use consumption model is now replicated in other corporate functions, like customer service management, for example.
The same can be done with telemetry, by scaling up or down as needed, especially in the coming months, advises Mr Goodman.
“You need to decouple how you pay for technology from infrastructure, and actually link it to the consumption of the technology,” he says.
“This way, you’re no longer wondering if you’ve made the right commercial investment to break through the data barrier as your developers have the ability to measure everything effectively and get on with their job without worrying about financial constraints associated with extensive instrumentation.”
Find out how investments in data measurement and instrumentation can improve your business here.
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