Most of us are now highly reliant on the Internet for a significant number of key purchases we make. Personally I have just booked a holiday, bought some shirts and ordered some CDs and books—and that is just in the last week. One of the things that buying online makes you aware of is that it tends to be a very variable experience; some sites are well designed, others are confused to say the least, but even some of the best designed sites can often operate in ways that are frustrating.
Being a Mac user I suffer probably more than most. For instance my daughters went to buy some goods from a well known High Street vendor's web site during a recent sale, using Safari as the web browser, and they got as far as the check-out only to find that with Safari there was no button to actually buy. By the time they had come out and gone back in with Firefox several items had sold out. They did not blame Apple, they blamed the vendor for not testing their site with a tool which is fairly common if not as ubiquitous as Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Even if you use Internet Explorer, unless you are keen on technology, how many users keep bang up to date with the latest versions and how many use whatever came installed on their machine at the time of purchase. Unfortunately for all retailers the Internet is a very complex and heterogeneous amalgam of technologies, and over time fewer and fewer of them lie within the control of retailer. But unless the retailer, selling whatever it may be, from baked beans to jumpers, to car insurance, can have a view of what is going on across the whole end to end process, across the whole of the geography that is internet enabled, across all of the various technical combinations that can be deployed it is very difficult to build and protect your brand.
So this is not a technical issue of interest only to those clever guys who look after the web site, this is of major concern to all who are interested in the current and future profitability of any business that trades on the net. Of course there are a mass of vendors out there selling Web analytics packages that will tell you that they are there to solve these issues, but I would say they look at only part of the problem, and from only a limited perspective. They monitor what is happening on the web site from the perspective of those who manage the web site.
This is where Gomez offers a solution set that offers a far more powerful and insightful set of tools. Gomez can look not only at what is going on back at base, inside the firewall, but it also offers insight into what is happening as seen by the customer.
I have written before about how important it is that any analysis tool provides insight that is actionable. One of the things about the Gomez solution is that it is targeted not just at telling you that you have a problem, it actually provides the drill down capabilities to enable the precise element of the system that is the cause of the issue to be isolated. So you can see not that you have an issue with a group of people who almost got to the end of a transaction and then abandoned, you can actually see that the problem came about because they were using a given browser being served by a given service provider, using a given point of presence, and get the heart of what needs to be done to ensure that the customer experience is not impaired.
One of the other features of the Gomez solution that I believe is of particular note is that because of the way that Internet solutions are made up from these various elements, it is all but impossible for most developers to actually perform any kind of end to end test to simulate the real world until right before it goes live. This means that testing at the level of real world integration is barely adequate at best and skimped over by the vast majority. The Gomez solution enables developers to actually simulate the real world throughout the development cycle, ensuring that they are aware of more of the surprises that the many combinations of technology can throw up, and enabling them to be tackled before it is the end user who finds it.
The Gomez solution set is already a powerful suite of tools, but the good news is that they are not resting on their laurels but are expanding the scope of the coverage of their solutions to enable the whole ecosystem to be managed with actionable insight. The solution is offered as an on-demand service so it is readily deployable, and does not require heavy handed IT intrusion into the existing systems to achieve its goals. When in action you can decide how you want to use it, and that can range from having daily reports sent to you covering all critical elements of the system to letting the system work away in the background, using thresholds which will only alert you when service is going to degrade the customer experience, and then you can delve into the system to find the element which requires correction.
I think that Gomez have a very powerful solution which is of vital importance to all who trade on the Internet. Even if you already have web analytics in place, the Gomez solution offers further insight and the value of that insight on protecting that most valuable of all your corporate assets your brand name from the perspective of the customer makes this a compelling solution.