Understanding performance and usage patterns and establishing a “normal” behavior pattern or profile is essential in detecting subtle anomalies in ecommerce websites when it comes to performance management. David Flower, Vice President EMEA, Compuware Gomez, takes a look at the growing importance of predictive analytics.
Web users, especially the Millenium generation, have increasingly high expectations for their Web experience – they want it content and feature-rich, and they want it now.
As a result the ability to ensure that online business services meet customer needs has never been more critical or more challenging. In 2011 managing business services and their infrastructure is more difficult than ever. This is because the IT that supports critical business services has grown tremendously in complexity as new technology is adopted to meet changing business needs. In the digital world, outsourced components and services such as adverts and other promotional content are continually changed as part of the normal course of a day. If these fail, they can cause catastrophe for customers, the brand, marketers, IT and web services technicians.
As a marketer, award-winning campaigns that drive traffic to your website count for nothing if the customer experience delivered when they get there doesn’t live up to your promise. If digital marketers are to meet customers’ expectations, a new approach is required to ensure that IT can meet constantly changing business needs.
Focus on what matters
A company’s web performance data is a priceless strategic asset because it represents the total experience of an organization, the very history of its interactions with customers. Each customer response, purchase decision, non-purchase decision etc provides the company data – or experience – from which to learn.
However, most IT environments have more monitoring data than they know what to do with, but few – if any – of these metrics can report on what really matters: how the core business services are being supported.
From a digital marketing perspective this might mean the difference between an online product launch or marketing campaign succeeding or failing. Think of all those late evenings and weekends perfecting the product mix, the business model, the look and the feel of your e-commerce web site. PR and marketing campaigns drive customers to your site. You sit back and relax.
Unfortunately, the work isn’t finished. One more factor can make or break you: web site performance – the end point at which your customers interact with you. If customers can’t buy your super-innovative new product because the checkout button on your website does not work, or a piece of third party content is hampering the on-screen visibility of the latest breaking news, the experience you’ve delivered will be a disappointment.
Using data to predict the (IT) future
This is where predictive analytics comes into play. Predictive analytics is the element of data mining concerned with the prediction of future probabilities and trends. The central element of predictive analytics is the predictor, a variable that can be measured for an individual or other entity to predict future behaviour.
Predictive analytics can optimise marketing campaigns and website behaviour to increase customer responses, conversions and clicks, and decrease churn. Each customer’s predictive score advises actions to be taken with that customer – and business intelligence just doesn’t get more actionable than that!
Put simply, the key to avoiding harmful IT failures is to identify irregular patterns and abnormal behavior of the overall business service or its underlying components. These patterns will vary from business to business, but in our world of e-marketing this could be something like unusually high web traffic from a particular geography or over a specific time period.
Predictive analytics provides insight into which conditions in a highly complex IT environment should be considered normal and acceptable and, in contrast, which events and conditions may impact your customers’ experience.
If digital marketers and publishers truly want to support key business processes with IT services, they need to first understand how these systems support business needs and then optimize the entire service delivery chain to support these business outcomes. It is also no longer good enough to be fast at fixing problems – it is now vital to be able to prevent them as well.
By David Flower
Vice President EMEA