Modern Software Podcast logoIt’s perhaps the most critical issue facing companies of all kinds in 2017, but not everyone is clear about how to think about it, what goes into it, or how to measure it. That’s a problem, because Digital Customer Experience (which we abbreviate to DCX) is far too important to be left to chance, or to let fall through the corporate cracks.

So, in the latest episode of the New Relic Modern Software Podcast, we welcome RedMonk Principal Analyst Stephen O’Grady, New Relic’s own Senior Director of Strategic Marketing Abner Germanow, and Senior Product Marketing Manager James Nguyen to discuss what goes into delivering a great customer experience, including the importance of performance [time code: 14:18].

Stephen, who is also a co-founder of the developer-focused industry analyst firm, dialed in all the way from Maine, while James and Abner (coincidentally, a “recovering” IDC analyst who was my guest on the premiere episode of the Modern Software Podcast), joined me in our downtown San Francisco recording studio.

The discussion kicks off by examining all the things that make up a digital customer experience. We look at the simple things a customer sees, and delve into the complex processes happening behind the scenes to make those seemingly magical things happen quickly and seamlessly—even at the busiest moments.

Stephen notes how most customer interactions are now “primarily, if not solely, a digital experience,” from pressing a button on the screen all the way through to customer fulfillment on the backend (he compares it to the incredible popularity of “unboxing videos”). Put it all together, he says, and the infrastructure required to pull this off is “phenomenally more complicated than it was even just a couple years ago.”

redmonk podcast guests

[from left to right] Stephen O’Grady of RedMonk; Abner Germanow and James Nguyen of New Relic

However, customers don’t know or care about that complexity. They demand a fast, seamless, end-to-end experience, and they hold you responsible no matter where a problem might originate. And, as Abner notes, that great digital customer experience has “got to be there on your biggest day,” whether that’s Black Friday or during the big game.

Those expectations put digital brands on the spot for the complete DCX they deliver, which requires companies to monitor just about everything, Stephen says, starting with performance, and “typically measured in response time.”

“Practically speaking,” Stephen advises, “if you can measure it, you should be,” and that includes historical data so “you can see what’s happening now and go back and see what’s happening over time.” Put simply, Stephen concluded, “light everything up!”

(Abner also notes that slow performance can sometimes be more annoying than a complete outage, and here’s a link to the Oatmeal comic he cites to prove his point.)

The Modern Software Podcast crew tackles the cloud and security

Before the interview portion of the show, the New Relic Modern Software Podcast crew opens the episode with a lively discussion touching on the big-picture topics and trends affecting the software and analytics industries. In this episode, I’m joined by New Relic Developer Evangelists Tori Wieldt and Clay Smith as well as VP of Customer Analytics Todd Etchieson.

First, we share our cloud reliability concerns, considerations, and takeaways in the wake of recent high-profile cloud outages. Key things to remember? Despite perceptions to the contrary, the cloud is still far more reliable that most on-premise solutions. If anything, it seems clearer than ever just how critical software and the cloud are to modern business.

As Tori points out, “Your software isn’t helping you do business, your software is your business.” Todd adds that means “when you move your software to the cloud you are not moving your responsibility for reliability to your vendor. You are still responsible for the reliability of your service, your site, your software … the ultimate responsibility for the reliability of your product is on you.” [1:38]

(For more on this topic, don’t miss Lee Atchison’s post on The New Stack: Don’t Write Off the AWS S3 Outage as a Fat-Finger Folly. Oh, and here’s a link to the Werner Vogels tweet that Clay mentions: Everything Fails, All the Time.)

Next, we look into what’s coming next in cloud technology, from Google’s push up-market into the enterprise and how it’s working to bring AI to the cloud by lowering barriers to entry for developers—see Google’s recent acquisition of Kaggle [7:26].

(Here’s the link to the YouTube video Tori mentions: Fireside Chat with Vint Cerf & Marc Andreessen at Google Cloud Next ’17.)

To wrap up the panel-discussion portion of the episode, we poke our noses into the messy, expensive, but seemingly unavoidable effects of the security and privacy concerns dominating the tech industry headlines. Is this becoming a central issue for the story of software in our time, or is it just an annoying, unfortunate distraction that we somehow have to look beyond? We actually find some positive signs for the future [11:04].

We hope you enjoy these 40 minutes of audio insights into the world of modern software. Thanks for joining us!

New Relic was the host of the attached forum presented in the embedded podcast. However, the content and views expressed are those of the participants and do not necessarily reflect the views of New Relic. By hosting the podcast, New Relic does not necessarily adopt, guarantee, approve or endorse the information, views or products referenced therein.

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Note: The intro music for the Modern Software Podcast is courtesy of Audionautix'

Fredric Paul (aka The Freditor) is Editor in Chief for New Relic. He's an award-winning writer, editor, and content strategist who has held senior editorial positions at ReadWrite,, InformationWeek, CNET, Electronic Entertainment, PC World, and PC|Computing. His writing has appeared in MIT Technology Review, Omni, Conde Nast Traveler, and Newsweek, among other places. View posts by .

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