Gap Between IT Performance and Consumer Expectations
Nearly one-third of organizations report that one hour of IT downtime costs them $1 million or more, according to a recent study conducted by San-Francisco based PagerDuty, a provider of digital operations management platform. The report was designed based on a two-part survey of more than 300 IT professionals in development and operations as well as more than 300 consumers, to examine the gap between IT performance and consumers’ expectations of the digital experience, and the major findings are quite engrossing and a little different than the common perception in the industry.
Gap Between IT Performance and Consumer Expectations
Consumers increasingly demand that technology be easy to use and information be readily available, and today, they utilize digital services to get their daily tasks (from online banking to ordering lunch) done more than ever before. As a result, this accelerating reliance gives rise to higher expectations for application/service performance. The report cited that nearly 70% of consumer respondents said they will leave an application or digital service in under 15 minutes or less if it is unresponsive or slow. On the other hand, more than a third of IT professionals stated that it takes them an average of 30 minutes or longer to resolve these specific issues. This expectation gap means that your consumers will leave during the time it takes to get things back up and running, in other words, failing to gain revenue and retain the customer.
How to Narrow the Gap
Considering 59.8 percent of consumers use digital services at least one or more times daily to complete tasks such as banking, making dinner reservations or finding transportation, while 85.3 percent use those services at least one or more times a week, organizations can’t afford to overlook this gap anymore. To tackle this issue, first and foremost, IT teams should be armed with the right skill sets as well as contemporary development and operations maneuvers. However, the biggest roadblock to achieving this is the fact that today, digitization skills are in short supply. As I stated in one of my recent articles published here at CMS-Connected, a talent gap, particularly in emerging technical fields such as data scientists or user-experience designers, is an alarming threat for many organizations as the situation may throw a wrench in the works. With this fact in mind, organizations are in the cut-throat competition for attracting not only customers but also people with the right skills, experience, and attitude. Retaining valuable team members requires a recognition that a clear mission and vision people can be inspired by is imperative.
Secondly, while solving digital disruptions seems to be developers and IT operations teams’ responsibility, those incidents have a whopping impact on other stakeholders as well. As I stated in my opening paragraph, nearly one-third of organizations report that one hour of IT downtime costs them $1 million or more. Here’s a visual that illustrates those affected by digital downtime the most:
While IT incidents have a huge impact on both external and internal stakeholders, the study disclosed an ugly truth in that regard: “Only 16.7 percent of organizations prioritize informing business stakeholders after a disruption occurs.” In today’s marketplace where consumers are expecting their bank loans to be preapproved or approved in minutes via an app, this number is simply not acceptable. One of the fundamentals of digitalizing is involving end users in every step of business process so fruitful touchpoints can be created throughout a customer journey. We are talking about real involvement here, not least to challenge conventional wisdom, though. Another finding on the communication issue from the study is that less than half of organizations contact affected customers or users after resolving a disruption to a consumer-facing service. As Albert Einstein once said: “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” It is very common that many organizations have turned unfavorable experiences into the most pleasant moments that pay off for a lifetime, and the beautiful part of it is that this mostly happens just through an excellent communication. The bottom line is that improving lines of communication can go a long way when it comes to dealing with consumer/user-facing service disruptions.
Thirdly, the survey found that organizations’ abilities do not align with a number of consumer-facing incidents that they currently face. To be exact, 83.9 percent of respondents felt confident that their IT organizations are prepared to support digital services, but, in contrast to this high level of confidence, more than half of those also stated that they encounter consumer-impacting incidents at least one or more times a week. To narrow this gap, it is paramount to understand the factors behind operation challenges for IT organizations. In the report, top operations challenges are listed as below:
Lack of full stack visibility,
Lack of contextual data when troubleshooting,
Siloed IT functions limiting collaboration, and
Even though every business is unique and runs its business process differently, these common challenges can give a glimpse of what the rooted-problem could be that is causing the gap between your IT team’s ability and the digital disruption your organization is faced with. Once the constraints have been identified, the business process, the current skillsets, and the tools can be reintroduced and re-evaluated.
Another important tactic to close the gap between IT operations and consumer expectations is moving quickly. Gone are the days when businesses were getting a return-on-investment (ROI) months after kicking off an IT initiative. Today’s high consumer expectations have a ripple effect on businesses thus organizations expect to see a significant improvement in their digital performance when an IT initiative is undertaken. Therefore, IT organizations are under bigger pressure than ever to meet those high expectations of external and internal stakeholders. Good news, technology is also becoming incredibly advanced and customized to help organizations maintain and leverage their digital service offerings effectively. In conjunction with the right skill and tool sets, organizations need to embrace the mindset of moving along quickly in a cautious manner, if they want to position themselves to remain with or ahead of the curve over the next 5 to 10 years.
Last but not least, turning the large amounts of complex data digital analytics collects into powerful insights is no longer only marketers’ or product managers’ homework as it requires a joint effort with IT organizations. To develop a successful mobile app or maintain the app’s performance, the best practices would be first, tapping into the data collected to develop a hypothesis, and then, testing that hypothesis on internal and external sample segments of customers across different devices and environments to see whether the hypothesis works in the real world. When it comes to data gathering, there are certain aspects that business should take very seriously, and the most important of them is security as consumers want to be in complete control of any transaction. In fact, the same study revealed that the top reason why consumers stop using a digital app or service is security when they feel that personal information may be compromised or not used for offering them increased relevance. Therefore, transparency and communication are the keys to collecting granular data without tarnishing customer relationship.
Today, digital businesses’ most prominent goal is to make their consumers digital processes as easy as possible by enabling them to rapidly access the information they seek at their convenience. After all, the top reasons why they use your digital app or services are a convenience, time-saving, and cost saving. Therefore, anything that could jeopardize these outcomes is a hole in your pocket and a potential damage to the integrity of your business. Minimizing the possibilities of having a digital disruption, reducing the time it takes to resolve consumer-facing incidents, proper communication with both internal and external stakeholders while resolving the disruption, and understanding the needs and behaviors of all customers and prospects are catalysts to bridging the gap between IT performance and today’s consumer expectations.