Peter Levine from Andreesen Horowitz wrote an article on The Renaissance of Enterprise Computing yesterday that finally sprouted the seed of an idea that has been dormant at the back of my brain for a few months. While the ideas of enterprise computing and web/mobile performance seem disconnected, they’re not.
When companies begin to rely on outside services (Levine mentions Box, Google Docs, and others in his article) they have given part of their infrastructure over to an outside organization. And, when you do that, this means that any performance hiccups that affect us as consumers can have a very major effect on us as employees.
Even if your company decides to purchase and deploy an enterprise application within your own infrastructure or datacenters, the performance and experience that your employees experience when using it on their desktops or on their mobile devices can affect productivity and effectiveness in the workplace. An unmanaged (read unmonitored) solution can have shut down groups in the company for minutes or hours.
Think of the call-center. No matter the industry you’re in, what increase customer calls: slow performance or a poor experience with the web/mobile application. Now, if your employees rely on a variant of the same web application to answer questions in the call-center, have you actually improved the customer experience and increased employee productivity?
Some considerations when managing, designing, or buying an enterprise application in the coming year:
- What do your peers tell you about their experience implementing the solution or using an outside service – has it made employees more effective and efficient?
- Are employees already using a “workaround” that makes them more effective and efficient? Why aren’t they using the internal or mandated solution?
- Is performance and experience a driving factor in the lack of adoption of the mandated solution?
- Do you have clear and insightful performance information that shows when employees are experiencing issues performing critical tasks? Can you clearly understand what the root cause is?
- Are employees experiencing issues using the application in certain browsers or on certain mobile devices? How quickly can your design or your outside service respond to these issues?
- Are you reviewing the chosen solution regularly to understand how usage is changing and how this could affect the performance of the application in the future?
Performance issues are not simply affecting the customers you serve. Your own employees use many of the same systems and applications in their day-to-day tasks, so a primary goal of managing these application should be to ensure that the applications deliver performance and experience that encourages employees to use them, no matter whether they are developed in-house or purchased as software or SaaS.