Lesson From Rio: Your Global Customers Won't Wait on Your Website's Delays

This year's Summer Olympics provide a modern case study on the importance on internet performance. Here are 3 takeaways.
Lesson From Rio: Your Global Customers Won't Wait on Your Website's Delays
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More than a half-million million tourists flocked to Brazil for the Rio Olympics -- bringing with them smartphones, tablets and other connected devices. All expected a great digital experience as they watched events live, used social media and live-chatted via video services with friends and relatives back home.

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Now that the medal competition is done, it's worth a look at some of the performance trends that impacted visitors. Did they all get the internet experience they expected? And what can companies with global expansion aspirations learn from the large-scale event?

Just before opening ceremonies, Dyn conducted an audit of internet performance conditions at the Games. The goal? To test differences in how spectators around the world might experience the Olympics digitally, based on their particular home country. Those attending the games in Brazil actually accessed the internet via the same infrastructure -- a mix of roaming and wifi connections.

But end-users at home in various countries would be connecting to services via a broad range of services. 

The results were telling: While distance played a role in internet performance, it wasn't the only contributing factor. Connection speeds in New York were almost twice as fast as those in Sydney. But the performance rate, comparing San Francisco's to Rio's, was only 13 milliseconds faster than that from London.

What did these numbers mean for visitors in Rio? A request to access a web page hosted in New York can be granted in a minimum of 216 milliseconds (slightly less than one-quarter of a second). That web page might have multiple requests -- say, 10 distinct requests -- from ads and other connected applications.

As those requests added up, the web page-load reached two seconds or more, depending on the site and the cloud providers involved, or the content delivery networks (CDNs) used.

Variable other factors impact the sites themselves. You probably already know that low web services can lead to customer dissatisfaction, page abandonments and, ultimately, less revenue. As more businesses rely on cloud and CDN resources, they'll need to base their content as closely as possible to their major user groups. This will help minimize latencies (slowdowns) in service. Resource placement and cloud or CDN choice can cause significant differences for customer-access speeds and overall experience.

Every business going global should consider these takeaways from the Rio Games.

1. Visibility into and control of the internet are crucial.

Our review of worldwide internet requests for Brazil-based information highlighted a well-known tech principle: Get your content as close as possible to your users. Granted, the Olympics happen only every four years, and Brazil isn't likely to be a strategically important market for every business.

But locating assets near your users translates across all industries. This important concept starts with visibility. Examine the paths your data must travel on the global network to reach your end-users. Which routes perform the best, and how do your cloud or CDN options stack up? It's likely you'll see differences in expansion plans by region, performance and price.

Research now points to satisfy increasingly impatient consumers. Sites that take more than five seconds to load often are abandoned. This means that your business no longer has the luxury of taking internet performance for granted. In addition to visibility and knowledge about regional and global internet-performance conditions, your business also needs to be agile. To ensure the best possible digital experience, you must control your routes to the customer.

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2. Multiple clouds or CDNs are a must.

Any entrepreneur knows that a single backup plan isn't nearly enough to handle misfires. Similarly, you never should rely on just one cloud or CDN service. If the cloud under-performs or goes down, your revenue and reputation go with it. Multiple options -- even secondary routing choices -- ensure your odds of optimizing performance for customers, wherever they are. 

This lesson came into sharp focus during the Rio Games' opening ceremonies. Google’s Cloud Compute Engine experienced an outage for more than an hour. Fortunately for the American market, this occurred at 4 a.m. EST. The outage could have had massive implications for apps running on the cloud during peak hours.

We ran a full analysis, offering insights into how the outage could have been mitigated for companies using the service. The caveat: You can't control and prevent issues with internet assets that you can't see.

3. Customer experience depends on the best internet performance.

Customers continue to raise the bar on expectations for a fast, seamless digital experience. This puts even more pressure on companies to invest the resources and develop infrastructure to support the demand. The best internet performance simply isn’t possible without insight and control into internet-based assets.

Many IT execs now embrace an internet-performance management approach that underpins the digital supply chain, ensuring online infrastructure is working properly, regardless of demand, geography or time. The internet is growing more complex, with a greater number of tech advancements tied to consistent, reliable and latency-free internet performance. Companies will have very little room for error as they deliver on the brand promise users expect -- for users ranging from internet natives to retail, finance, app or gaming companies and beyond.

Related: Switching Over to Content Delivery Networks Retains Customers

Internet-performance management must be a priority for your business if you hope to keep customers loyal and engaged wherever they are and however they access content. Your future depends on it.