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In our current era of social distancing, everything we do is digital: We shop, pay our bills, order food, socialize, and live our entire lives through applications. These applications include the ones on your phone you’re using to order dinner, as well as the numerous unseen applications operating behind the scenes to make all these daily digital activities work. If you are an entrepreneur working through the challenges of the global health crisis in any industry, ensuring the health of the applications that keep your business running and serve as your key way of interacting with customers is a top priority.

Every time a bug, lag, or unforeseen issue disrupts a user’s experience, you risk losing the customer not only for that moment but forever. The App Attention Index found that two thirds (66 percent) of consumers claim they would avoid trying a product from a brand known for delivering a poor digital experience. For the end-user, poor app performance means increased frustration and time wasted. For a business, it means losing money, time, and, most importantly, customer trust.

So, what can company leaders do to maintain app health when it is needed most?

Start from the base of the user-first design pyramid

In a previous article, I shared my thoughts on how to build the next great app, describing the user-first design pyramid as a model for product design: performance at the base, followed by utility, functionality, and at the top, delight. Like any pyramid, without that base-level performance, the rest of the structure falls apart. You can have a beautiful app designed to meet a user’s exact needs, but if it keeps crashing or losing information, your users will abandon it.

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That’s where monitoring comes in. Regardless of the platform, making sure you have an Application Performance Monitoring (APM) solution in place providing real-time performance insights is key to catching anomalies as — and before — they happen. For example, by using an APM tool, Alaska Airlines’ mean-time-to-detection went from hours to less than 10 minutes, which is a huge time save for them while reducing the pains and frustrations customers felt when there were problems. 

Related: 3 Steps to Build the Next Great App

Map out your users’ journeys

A recent Agents of Transformation report found that tech priorities have changed for 95 percent of organizations during the global health crisis, with 88 percent of IT professionals reporting digital customer experience is now the priority for their teams.

This shift towards prioritizing the digital experience is obvious, and any tech strategy should start by putting yourself in the users’ shoes. For example, there is functionality that allows you to see the most common user journeys within your application (from the homepage to user account profile to checkout) and where performance problems are surfacing. With this technology, companies have shared that they better understand the user behavior, monitor when these conversion rates deviate and can focus on performance issues in specific parts of their applications. Knowing where your users are spending time and where issues are causing financial loss will help your team prioritize, which is crucial as budgets are squeezed. 

Related: How Businesses Can Process Payments Without Stress

Prioritize the people

To keep your app operating smoothly, you shouldn’t forget the people who have the most hands-on contact with it. Technologists are your organization’s essential front-line workers against app failures and attacks, and with the global health crisis creating more pressure for these teams than ever before, supporting these employees is crucial.

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Analyst firm Gartner recently forecasted that IT spending will decline in 2020, as enterprises entering the recovery phase of the global health crisis “will have a backlog of IT projects and less cash to use for them.” At the same time, the Agents of Transformation Report also found two-thirds of technologists are now being asked to do tasks they’ve never had to do before.

In other words, by being tasked with maintaining the user experience across increasingly complex environments, IT professionals have more on their plate with potentially fewer resources. Taking time to invest in your people and their well-being now will pay out dividends in your application health and your business’ future. For example, in a nod to the longer work hours and fewer vacations, Cisco recently gave employees several company-wide days off and expanded its leave options to help parents and caregivers. Even simple efforts like team-wide no-meeting days can help people recharge.

Related: Why Digital Transformation Is Imperative For Business Continuity

Take the first step

The perfect solution for app health will need to be tailored to your organization’s needs, but these three steps are a good starting point to set you on the right path. By prioritizing performance monitoring, mapping out your users’ journeys, and investing in the people who keep your IT running, you can get ahead of any possible problems with your applications. A healthy app ecosystem allows you to provide the best service and experience possible to customers, employees, and stakeholders during a time when they need it most.

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