Slow mobile apps can be costly to businesses: Compuware

When mobile apps don't work properly, it can result in customer frustration and dissatisfaction, which will eventually translate to loss of revenue, according to Compuware's application performance management director for Asia-Pacific Rafi Katanasho.
Written by Spandas Lui, Contributor

Businesses that release mobile applications that are deemed too slow by users are damaging their bottom line, according to Compuware application performance management director for Asia-Pacific Rafi Katanasho.

According to the technology performance company, most users now expect their mobile apps to be responsive in under 3 seconds.

The company did a study of real users to compare their expectations and behaviours when using an online service offered through a web browser and a mobile app. While mobile users are tolerant of delays within the first few seconds, that quickly deteriorates.

For businesses that are marketing their wares through mobile apps, the delay in performance could result in less sales conversion rates and customer dissatisfaction, according to Katanasho, who was speaking at IDC's Enterprise Mobility Conference 2013 in Sydney on Wednesday. He said that customers are likely to abandon the use of the failing mobile app, and are likely to flock to competitors that provide a better mobile experience.

Katanasho highlighted a study by software company Borland, which found that a 1-second delay on Amazon's online website would result in a US$1.6 billion loss in annual revenue.

Similarly, he pointed to the recent failure of the Click Frenzy sales event, with the online site crashing as soon as it was launched and the negative media coverage that ensued, as an example of how such technology failings can have tangible impacts on businesses.

"I think the [Click Frenzy] brand in people's minds is very weak now as a result of that exercise," Katanasho said.

Be it a consumer app or an enterprise app, companies have to expect mass adoption and make appropriate preparations in the back end to ensure that these mobile apps don't crash and burn on the get go, according to Katanasho.

"You have to be prepared for success, whether you are launching a new banking app for the iPad or are an enterprise launching a new CRM-type app," he said. "You have to be prepared that it will be adopted and make sure you actually deliver that performance to end users.

"To be able to do that, it's important to look at the different component — to look at every single transaction, follow it through the mobile environment, and understand at what point in the system it is going to break."

Drilling down and understanding the end users, finding out at what point during their mobile app interaction they are getting frustrated, is another important step that businesses should take, he said.

Ensuring the mobile app is available and accessible around the clock is also a crucial part of having a successful mobility strategy, Katanasho said. The expectation from users that online services are available all the time is not going to change anytime soon, he said.

"Finally, use benchmarks and understand where you are right now in terms of app response times compared with company and industry leaders," Katanasho said. "Your users are not judging you based on who your competitors are, but on the best-of-breed guys like Google and Facebook."

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