The Digital Fragility: How Website Outages are Transforming Competition
By Aaron Rudger | January 29, 2015
Facebook, the world’s largest social network and its Instagram photo-sharing site were blocked around the world for up to an hour on Monday, January 26. We saw that Facebook experienced an outage and was down from around 10:12PM PST to 11:05PM PST with lingering availability issues until 5:45AM PST. Keynote Monitoring saw that Facebook.com experienced TCP connection errors and HTTP 503 “Service Unavailable” errors from around the world. In this age of digital, an outage is more than just frustrating. It’s lost revenue, and as companies continue to interconnect and automate technology to fine tune the customer experience, they are in fact, introducing more fragility to their business.Performance trend graph around the outage. Click to enlarge.
For Facebook, which generates about $3.85 billion in revenue mostly through advertising, the average revenue per user (ARPU) is equivalent to about $45. So when their site is unavailable, the third party content such as ads can’t reach their intended users, it has the potential to lower their ARPU, making the site less attractive to advertise with.
Monitoring the performance and quality of the sites is one way to address the unpredictable events and changes. In technology, change is what drives value—new features, new content, new capabilities. Facebook’s agile delivery enables fast change, which introduces the risk of disruptions like this recent one. It’s a calculated trade-off mitigated by agile approaches to testing and monitoring. And it’s paid off pretty well for Facebook.
For every company seeking greater agility, the question to be asked is where are your potential points of failure? Are your approaches to ensuring quality and performance as agile as your digital delivery across the channels your business uses to interact with customers? The more channels businesses use to interact with their customers, the more points of failure to win or lose customers increases, making quality and performance increasingly important.
For most businesses like Facebook, surviving the digital transformation is a process that plays out over time, and third party content hosted on the site is just the latest trend to affect the performance of sites.
As Facebook prepares to launch their Super Bowl hub this weekend, a feature that will automatically trigger videos to play on users’ newsfeeds based on keywords – this is another example of extending the digital experience for consumers while at the same time opening the opportunity to be more fragile.