This blog post is the first in our “Real-Time Metrics” series, which presents the emerging state of the real-time IT metrics market. The focus is on practical advice: how to understand, plan, and deploy real-time metrics technologies that bring value to your business operations.
Gone are the days when real-time operational metrics were of interest strictly to the IT department and data scientists. While business executives used to have the luxury of ignoring CPU usage or network capacity, they have always cared about how many customers use their service, how many signed up to pay for it, or whether the business has enough resources to launch a new product next week.
In today’s digital economy, operational metrics and business data are inextricably linked.
To understand how operational metrics directly influence the bottom line, take the simple example of the speed of a web page download. Experiments at Google showed that a 500-ms increase in the display time of search results reduced revenue by a whopping 20 percent, while Akamai reports that 40 percent of consumers will abandon a retail or travel site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Real-time metrics are particularly compelling for companies and industries that are invested in the concept of the Internet of Things. Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 4.9 billion connected devices (e.g., heart-rate monitors for patients and physicians, robots for manufacturing) will be in use in 2015 - up 30 percent from 2014 - while the estimated number will reach 25 billion by 2020.
Building a scalable metrics infrastructure to address such big data is a critical business component. Real-time metrics systems must have access to data points from many different platforms and/or applications in order to continuously monitor services and data. This is what real-time metrics collecting and visualizing might look like schematically:
Here is a real-life example of a business in need of operational metrics that successfully outsourced this piece of infrastructure to save money and improve customer experience.
CrowdFlower is a crowdsourcing service specializing in microtasking: distributing customers’ small, discrete assignments to many online contributors. CrowdFlower’s lack of visibility into their running IT processes was costing them money.
Rather than building a metrics platform from scratch - a prohibitively expensive endeavor - CrowdFlower turned to a third-party real-time metrics provider. By integrating Librato’s tracking and alerting system directly into their business process, CrowdFlower gained the operational visibility they needed, while minimizing capital expenditures and losses due to inefficiency.
In CrowdFlower’s own words: “integrating with [Librato’s] automated monitoring for CrowdFlower job metrics has allowed our platform to deliver even better results for data enrichment jobs, while ensuring the stability of both cost and quality for our customers”
Properly utilized - in a scalable, collaborative setting - real-time operational metrics can go a step beyond fixing issues: they can provide for immediate insight that drives business innovation, provides competitive advantage, and transform data analytics into incremental revenue opportunities.
In our next real-time metrics blog post, we’ll discuss key concepts that define the value of real-time metrics in a business framework.
To learn more, download GigaOm’s exclusive report on “Real-Time Metrics for Improved Business Operations and Agility”