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App Services at the Heart of the Experience Economy

We hear a lot about the digital economy and the API economy, but the experience economy is what both are powering.

The term Experience Economy, according to Wikipedia, has been floating around since it was first used “in a 1998 article by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore describing the experience economy as the next economy following the agrarian economy, the industrial economy, and the most recent service economy.” The authors “argue that businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers, and that memory itself becomes the product — the 'experience.'"

starbucksThe most often-cited example of this is Starbucks. Coffee beans, as a commodity, cost relatively little. Coffee, served at a restaurant brewed and ready, costs somewhat more. A coffee from Starbucks is an experience supported by its baristas and a language of its own, which of course is going to cost you even more. Today, technology is adding to that experience by eliminating the wait in those long lines with a rewarding mobile app through which you can pre-order and pick up without delay. Because it’s about the experience at Starbucks, not the coffee itself.

While there are valid arguments against this notion as a workable economic theory, there is truth in the premise that the experiences become bound to products and, by extension, to the brand. With so much emphasis on digital transformation and the requirement to engage digitally with customers and employees alike, that experience becomes a representation of the company just as much as a customer-facing employee represents the brand. A poor experience can have a devastating impact, not only on the receiver but on those with whom the receiver interacts. Thanks to the digital nature of communications today, that can mean millions of impressions made based on a single experience.

Consider a recent discussion on online gaming. If you haven’t noticed, there’s an entire economy around online gaming, just as those that crop up around any competitive sports endeavor such as football. The problem, it turns out, is that for some locations – notably Hawaii – the experience is so poor that it excludes gamers from participating. The problem is latency, which makes the gamer phrase “lag kills” not only true in-game, but out as well, as poorly performing networks kill the opportunities for gamers to participate. Their experience matters and has a negative impact on the gaming economy as entire groups drop out and take their (digital) cash with them.

As businesses rely more and more on automated systems to orchestrate business processes, technology’s role in experiences necessarily grows. A great deal of the experience economy relies on the application itself, particularly in the area of user interaction. There’s a reason it’s called user experience (UX) and not user interface (UI) these days, and that’ s because presentation is as much a factor in user satisfaction as is the actual functionality. Responsiveness, too, of people but more often today, technology, plays a significant role in the experience economy.

Lag – which results in less than responsive applications and people - kills experiences whether they’re navigating customer service or hunting down orcs in an online game. Lag is introduced anytime a system responds slowly to a request, and can introduce delays into everything from the network to the applications that must communicate to execute their assigned tasks. “I’m sorry, my computer is slow today” is a phrase we’ve all heard and I’m not alone when I saw I loathe the excuse. It’s not the computer, which has more computing power than all the systems that sent men to the moon, it’s the network or the back-end application introducing lag into the experience. what orgs use pref apr 2017

It’s no surprise then that organizations employ a wide variety of app services to address latency at all layers of the stack. Nearly 3/4 of all respondents in our 2017 State of Application Delivery report (71%) deploy at least one performance-related service. Digging into real usage and deployments representing 3.5M different endpoints (virtual servers), they’re employing a wide variety of app services to improve performance including caching, compression, and protocol-related techniques.

All these app services contribute to the experience economy by improving performance and eliminating lag in processes that involve people. Single-sign on, for example, isn’t about reducing latency in the network, but latency in a process that many folks have to navigate multiple times a day. App security can detect and prevent bots and malicious actors from consuming resources that ultimately impact performance by bogging down apps and services with meaningless requests.

In the quest to serve up the a memorable experience, responsiveness of both technology and the people who rely on technology to provide that experience is critical. App services help business assure that the experiences of customers and employees with the business’ growing digital persona aren’t remembered with the fondness of a root canal.