Survival of the Fittest: How to Help Your Apps Survive in the Wild


Survival of the Fittest: How to Help Your Apps Survive in the Wild

By Special Guest
Erwan Paccard, Director of mobile performance strategy at Dynatrace
  |  December 14, 2015

In many ways, when companies release customer-facing applications it’s like releasing a gazelle bred in captivity into the wild Serengeti. You prepare the animal as best you can and eventually take a leap of faith and let it go – and hopefully it isn’t immediately devoured by lions. However, even if it is, as long as you have the right data and insights at least you can learn valuable lessons and better prepare the next one to survive.

Shockingly many companies forget this very basic last step when releasing applications. This is even more surprising when one considers that while a naturalist can’t do much for the gazelle other than tracking it, there are steps digital business owners can take to ensure their apps thrive when they are released.

Maximizing customer experience across every digital touchpoint – mobile, web, and mobile web apps – is the key to surviving, differentiating yourself, and ultimately driving engagement and revenue. Most organizations know this, and invest heavily in design and development. Yet strangely that’s where it stops for too many.

Digital business reams need to understand their users’ actual journeys. Developing an app that should provide a fantastic customer experience is a given. However, few organizations actually track apps post-production to see if the experience they planned for is actually happening.

Most do little more than a few voice of the customer surveys, so the reality is that most organizations don’t know if their customers are following a different use pattern than they had planned for. Indeed the first indication they get that their app is failing is when they hear the lions roar. That is, when customers light up Twitter (News - Alert) with complaints, expected results don’t materialize, and competitors start rising to meet or beat them.

In the grand scheme of things the odd gazelle is going to be eaten. That’s just natural selection. But, if you invested tons of money in designing a release to be better than the rest of the herd, chances are you’re not really okay with it getting devoured. So, how do you make sure your app survives in the wild?

What you need is a digital performance monitoring solution that tracks every user experience in real time, and provides you with an indicator that grades your app’s experience from the end user perspective. With the right solution you can monitor for delivered user experiences, factoring in errors, transaction time, and adjusting for context (after all, a user accessing an app over a spotty 3G connection in the mountains of British Columbia is likely more prepared to wait than someone using a top of the line smartphone on a fast 4G connection in New York City).

Once you have the right monitoring solution, one that tracks every user action and journey rather than just providing sample, you can actually grade every customer’s entire digital experience, and gain a real understanding of your user base needs and aspirations. Don’t just monitor for mobile application crashes; if you do, you will only get technical context leading to the crash and not the user actions that lead to this situation. Instead you should track every user journey, performance, user behavior, and environment in addition to errors. Grading on this type of user experience index gives you incredibly valuable insight and the answers you need to improve your app, head off issues before they become problems, and deliver the business results your leadership team is depending on.

With a proper digital performance solution in place you can even set up proactive alarms. Some retailers I work with have alarms set up for transactions of more than $1,000 that encounter issues, thus enabling them to react and immediately reach out to save the transaction. Similarly, an insurance company I know has a notification set up for every time customers struggle with its mobile app. After all, since the majority of customers would use their app to file a claim, failure would directly minimize renewals rates.

The business world is every bit as merciless as the Serengeti. While there isn’t much you can do for a gazelle after you release it into the wild, you don’t ever have to throw your app to the lions or hyenas and hope it fares well. You can collect needed analytics to monitor and improve on your delivered customer experiences – not only will your customers be satisfied, you will be on track to become king of the jungle.

Erwan Paccard is director of mobile performance strategy at Dynatrace (

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere
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