The Return of APM

Is mobile apps become the way your audience prefers to access information and content, emerging as an effective way to encourage engagement and build lasting loyalty, it has never been more important for content providers to monitor just how well (or not) their apps are performing. Indeed, the advance of apps-for smartphones, tablets, and even TVs-is redrawing the boundaries of what people can do on the device of their choice. While you need to focus your resources on developing a mobile app experience that delights your customers, you are also under increased pressure to meet (and exceed) customers' expectations that the mobile experience will beat the one delivered by their desktops.

Studies show that half of mobile users abandon a page if it doesn't load in 10 seconds, and three out of five won't return. Even a giant such as Amazon can't buck the trend. It recently calculated that a page load slowdown of just 1 second could cost the company $1.6 billion in sales each year.

The impact of poor application performance on both user productivity and customer experience is indisputable. Read between the lines, and 2014 is a comeback year for application performance management (APM). The first time around, APM was pretty much centered on tools to monitor application performance at the client-server level.

With mobile apps becoming increasingly vital to a company's overall strategy to deliver content and experiences, APM is back. Only this time, it's not enough to measure app performance. Content providers have to manage and improve it. In other words, mobile APM is all about the tools and solutions to detect, prioritize, isolate, diagnose, repair, and prevent problems before they happen.

It's not easy. At the device level, the issues are centered around fragmentation. There are many devices, many operating systems, and many releases of each individual operating system. At the network level, connections are not always reliable, and issues such as latency and limited bandwidth availability can cause an app to crash. Finally, third parties can also break down and take your app with them. Put another way, integration with third parties such as Twitter and Google may bring value to your app, but be aware that it can also boost the complexity you need to understand and manage your app in real time.

Mobile apps have a lot of moving parts-and partners-and a lot can go wrong. Up until now, most companies have relied on two information sources to find out if their app was performing well: user ratings on app stores and social trend analysis. Of course, just watching to see if people have issues with your app-which they will no doubt amplify through social media-is risky business.

If your app is on the fritz, you need to know ASAP-and so do your users. Accept that you're going to need a mobile APM solution, and try to choose one that can deliver real-time alarms, notifying your developers so they can proactively manage issues that are delivering a poor user experience. Don't just duck and cover. React fast by knowing when and where errors occur. Once you're alerted, you can implement the right fix.  

But be frugal. On the face of it, it may seem that the only way to ensure a great and consistent mobile app experience is to monitor everything, all the time. In reality, that's the best way to squander money, time, and resources you can't afford. Instead, be smart about what you monitor and choose a mobile APM solution that delivers real and positive results by zeroing in on what really matters in real time. A mobile APM solution that delivers loads of data after the crash is similar to medicine after the funeral.

Picking a solid mobile APM solution in 2014 will go a long way toward providing you the information and insights to make your app a success. It's not about knowing when an app crashes. It's about having a solution that allows you to prioritize problems and make tough, but necessary, choices. That way you don't waste money addressing all crashes and issues that arise, and you can focus on delivering an excellent mobile app experience that keeps your customers coming back for more