Digital assurance services focus on the interplay of devices and apps on the web or mobile platforms. Ideally it provides superior navigability and content on those channels, and ensures a seamless customer engagement before, during and after a purchase, and across multiple touch points that could start with an online visit and end at a physical store. Through that process, digital assurance is designed to provide a smooth and relevant experience while protecting their financial and other data from hackers, according to Kumudha Sridharan, vice president and global head of testing services at Wipro Technologies.
Shawndra Hill, Wharton professor of operations and information management, says retailers’ online crashes under volume loads or security breaches underline digital assurance’s increasingly critical role. “More and more software is coming online and people are sometimes using the software in ways that they weren’t intended. The risks are greater as numerous mobile and web apps are written by freelance developers who lack the foresight — or the budget resources — to test and control how their creations are used.”
Thus, digital commerce with smooth user experiences is a high priority for many businesses, along with data security. Digital assurance will become more and more important for businesses because “fundamentally, companies want to ensure that their end-customer experience is good and that their digital channels enable them to achieve a higher reach,” says Sridharan.
She offers the example of a large North American retail chain that effectively used digital assurance. The retailer wanted to increase the number of prospective customers browsing its offerings on web and mobile channels who ended up making purchases. It hired a digital assurance provider to develop new apps and improve the user experience on mobile, tablet and online channels. That helped the retailer increase the so-called “conversions” of prospective customers to actual purchasers from 8% to 11%, she says.
Sridharan cites the experience of online shopping network Shopzilla as another example of how digital assurance can enhance the customer experience. When Shopzilla invested in improving the performance of its website and related applications, it gained a five-second speed increase (from seven seconds to two seconds) as its pages loaded. That increased page views by 25% and revenues by 7%- 12%, while costs were slashed by 50% and performance improved overall.
Digital assurance services to improve user experience also brought gains to some firms polled in a recent survey by research firm Econsultancy and digital technology services provider RedEye, both of London. And the gains are not always strictly IT related. Veeam Software, a Swiss IT services firm, found that changing a single word can bring seemingly magical results. It replaced the words “Request a quote” on its website’s sales inquiry form to “Request pricing” and found the click-through rate soared 161%, according to the survey report.
Companies that do not invest in digital assurance do so at their peril, says Sridharan. For example, retailers must test their systems for potential crashes ahead of festive seasons such as Black Friday (the Friday following Thanksgiving Day) when sales volumes soar, Sridharan added. “If they crash, the retailers could lose heavily.”
Sridharan pointed also to Amazon, which found that even a one-second slowdown in webpage load time could cost it $1.6 billion in lost annual sales, according to a report in Fast Company magazine.
Investments in digital assurance could also pay back through reduced risk premiums on insurance coverage against business disruptions caused by technology glitches.