How KPIs affect your mobile app optimization

By Jonathan Crowl

Smartphone data — the information that fuels almost every activity on your phone — is actually delivered over a network and service infrastructure designed for something else. Originally, the towers built by telecommunications companies were designed to service voice traffic. Today, of course, consumer behaviors have changed. As such, these same infrastructures have been outfitted to handle the rich reams of data that pour in and out of smartphones every second.

Mobile app developers have no choice but to operate within the confines of this setup, and that makes mobile app optimization more of a challenge. The focus, as always, is on delivering a strong user experience. But doing so requires juggling a number of moving parts and addressing several points of need. As a result, it’s crucial for developers to pay close attention to both network KPIs and service KPIs. The good news is that both sides correlate to a stronger overall product. When both networks and services are adequately addressed, the end result is likely a much stronger user experience.

The point of correlation: User experience

KPIs can vary widely based on the organization’s desired goals. But in the case of mobile app optimization, developers have a tight focus for setting their KPIs, as everything should be geared toward understanding the user experience. These performance indicators should examine both the network and service aspects of an experience delivery, and they should be designed to identify sub-par performance on the app.

Through examining network KPIs, app creators can get a better sense of how an app performs given various network conditions. Service-wise, developers can study the app’s accessibility and integrity and the delivery experience. Both network and service KPIs are set according to specific conditions that affect your app’s experience. As such, the user experience is at its best when both are in proper working order.

Securing app quality through verification

Verification steps can be used to examine these KPIs before and after an app’s activation. This provides both the developers and vendors the resources they need to test app performance before the product goes to market. In an effort to make sure that the app is firing on all cylinders once it gets in the hands of its users, developers can use this testing to fine-tune service and double check network compliance.

Identifying improvement actions

The actual process of implementing improvement actions is where you will see the most direct correlation between network and service KPIs. At this stage of optimization, a study of the user experience can yield a list of objectives that should be fulfilled to improve the overall product. Some of these improvement actions will implicate both network and service KPIs, while developers may uncover some aspects of the experience where service and network KPIs are bumping up against one another. As such, it will require innovation to work around these problems and continue to optimize the application.

Optimizing upgrade planning

Even when a mobile experience appears to be optimized at the present moment, the value of network and service KPIs remains critical. Eventually, your brand will want to upgrade the app and its user experience, and this will start the process over again. There are also infrastructure challenges that you will need to tackle. Although, as TechMoran points out, data surpassed voice traffic on a global level in 2009, the fast evolution of mobile apps has network providers hard at work trying to keep up. Continuous adjustments are being made on the network side, and that means that mobile app developers will have to keep monitoring their KPIs. And, in some cases, they will have to change the measures they use to track performance.

Unfortunately for mobile app creators, the metrics for measuring quality of experience (QoE) are more limited and less reliable than those addressing network and service performance. That means that network and service KPIs must be relied upon to help interpret that user experience. This may change as technology and the understanding of data advances, but for the moment, developers should continue to lean hard on network and service KPIs as twin gateways to greater mobile success.