SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Patrick Lightbody, a product manager with software performance management company New Relic, ditched his favorite food truck because of his new Apple Watch. More than just an amusing story though, it served to highlight the changes coming in mobility and user interfaces as well as the ever-growing appeal of real-time response.
Lightbody loved the burritos at the local food truck near his office in San Francisco. But when he saw that his new Apple Watch had a ‘Burrito button’ app, courtesy of Chipotle, “it blew my mind.” Now that he can simply press “Burrito” on his watch screen to order one from the local Chipotle that will be ready for pickup when he gets there, he had to say good-bye to the food truck.
He also used the anecdote to highlight the fact that “every business is becoming a software business” to more effectively reach and serve customers. And while speed is important, he emphasized that making sure the Website or app is a “delightful experience” will determine whether customers will come back.
Noting we now have massive amounts of data on how customers use apps across a range of devices, he encouraged developers to “participate with the analytics” if they want to be successful.
Lightbody was one of the speakers at O’Reilly Media’s Velocity conference here May 29 that focused on Web operation performance and building resilient IT systems.
Shane Evans, Hewlett-Packard product manager had a different take, addressing how best to appeal to enterprise users. He urged developers to keep the needs of legacy system users in mind because getting them to switch to the latest sexy-looking Web or mobile app could be a fool’s errand. He noted, for example, that the SWIFT messaging system used by banks has been around since the 1970s and efforts to replace it have failed.
In just a few years, Evans said the Internet of things (IoT) is expected to add trillions of dollars to the U.S Gross Domestic Product. But for IoT to be effectively deployed in the enterprise, developers have a lot of work to do in terms of integration with current systems.
“We need to [have] better development tools across legacy systems,” he said, adding that virtualization will be a key part of developing, testing and deploying these new devices on legacy systems.
Reaching the Next 2 Billion-Plus Mobile Users
Bruce Lawson, open standards evangelist with mobile Web browser specialist Opera Software, addressed the challenge of getting billions of more users connected to the Internet in developing countries where underpowered mobile phones are generally the only computer they have.
Velocity Conference Boosting Online Performance Takes More Than Speed
Opera has 50 million users in India and more than 20 million in Indonesia among other countries where browsers are used predominantly on mobile phones. But despite the limited screens and cultural difference, Lawson said Opera’s own big data analysis of its users shows pretty much the same breakdown compared with the United States when it comes to what they use the Web for the most—social media, search, YouTube, “uncensored information” and sports.
He says Opera has had great success with its “installable Web apps” because any changes to the apps are done at the server level so users always see the latest version, unlike native apps which have to be updated on the device. Opera is working on ways to improve the performance of its data compression technology (already considered to be among the best in the world) by 30 to 40 percent, Lawson said, while emphasizing that it’s years away from being implemented.
He also gave a breakdown on where Opera’s servers are located—which, with the exception of China, are typically not in the countries they serve. For example, Opera’s servers for Africa are on the East Coast of the United States.
Opera has plenty of experience managing Internet traffic since it has processed more than 23 petabytes of data in just the past month. “It seems counterintuitive to have the servers far away because the conventional wisdom is that they need to be nearby,” said Lawson. “But we don’t find this to be true.”
The reason is simple. Emerging economies have “grossly overloaded networks,” and connections are very intermittent, he explained. Opera can actually provide faster, more reliable service from the other side of the globe in some cases.
Buddy Brewer, vice president of business development at performance analytics firm Soasta, said it’s a mistake to think performance simply means speed, when in fact, performance means different things throughout an organization. “If you ask the finance department or engineering or sales, I bet you get a lot of different answers because they use different metrics to measure performance,” he said.
“But if you look at how a user sees performance, the definition is very simple; they want to be able to go to a Website and get what they want.”
He urged those in the audience to look at these different pieces of the performance puzzle to optimize performance because it’s not just about speed when it comes to Websites. Other factors like bounce rate and conversions are also important.