Active Web Monitoring

Businesses use the Web, a central component of sales, marketing, communications, and product support strategies to reinforce their brand, attract clients, communicate with customers and partners, provide assistance, and bring in revenue.

What constitutes a transaction varies widely according to a company’s market and industry. For an online bookstore, a transaction might be defined as a customer buying a book. But transactions do not need to involve the exchange of goods or money. Transactions can also be defined as the process of searching for flight or hotel information, checking a bank account balance, or selecting a healthcare provider from an insurer’s Web site.

The number of online transactions has multiplied significantly over the past decade with the increasing use of dynamic pages, secure Web sites, integrated search capabilities, and multimedia content.

The increasing use of online transactions can deliver important benefits to both users and businesses if those transactions perform as they should. But in the real world, problems arise. Those problems are easily compounded by the growing complexity of transactions.

No transaction is flawless

For a business to be successful, online transactions must go smoothly for the end user. No matter where and when users perform online transactions, they should have a consistent experience. Consistency is at the heart of loyalty and branding for many businesses. Transactions should have the same look and feel and functionality from any browser on any platform, and the time it takes to go from one step to another should not vary from user to user.

Unfortunately, no transaction is flawless. Transactions can break down at multiple points throughout the process. Search engines can fail to find what the user is looking for, items can be out of stock, credit card numbers can fail to be validated, and account pages can fail to load. Transactions can also break down in less obvious ways. The costs of failed transactions are great-competitors are only a click away. Users are quick to turn to other sites when transactions fail them in any way.

Successful transactions depend on active monitoring

The only thing worse than a failed transaction is the failure of the business to recognize the problem. Because companies rely more heavily on the Web than ever before and customer expectations have risen with respect to online performance, every minute of downtime is more painful than it was even a few years ago. Waiting for an internet service provider-or worse yet, a customer-to notify you of a problem can be deadly for your company.

What are the risks? At the very least, loss of customer confidence and the degradation of your brand. As customers and clients gain Internet savvy, they will have less and less patience for problems on your site, and they will be less likely to do business with you.

As a result, transaction problems can lead to lost revenue. Your customers will notice the time it

takes to load a page or process an order, and they will not hesitate to try your competitor’s site if yours is down for even a moment.

Organizations must take an active role in monitoring the performance of all sorts of online transactions- from making purchases to downloading forms. Yet the task of pinpointing problems has become more challenging as transactions have increased in complexity. The performance of Web sites and the success of online transactions depend on a wide range of interconnected technologies. Monitoring the performance of all of those technologies can be overwhelming for many organizations. For many organizations, the best monitoring solution is one that can capture the complexity of online transactions while making it easy to identify problems.

The essential components of successful monitoring

A well-designed online transaction monitoring solution should be based on four principles:

1. Adopt the user’s perspective

Monitoring the performance of your Web site solely from within your enterprise will never provide a true picture of how your users experience the site. A user’s experience depends on a complex system of interconnecting Internet communications providers, third-party advertising and content providers, content distribution networks, and much more-and all of those elements lie beyond your company’s firewall. To monitor a user’s experience, you must include all of those elements-they all affect the user’s experience.

For a truly accurate picture of how a user experiences your site, you need to monitor performance wherever users are across the globe. Differences in access speeds and networking technologies can result in significant differences in user experiences. The only way to capture how users experience a transaction is to monitor transaction performance from where they live. To capture the widest range of user experiences, you need a broad-based measurement service with a comprehensive selection of well-chosen, representative, and stable locations across the globe.

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