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Giving data a heartbeat

Ben Rushlo explains how Session Replay from Dynatrace takes data back to its human roots and brings human data to our big data world.

I love data. I have spent virtually my entire career looking at data. Synthetic data, network data, system data, and the list goes on. In recent years, the amount of data we analyze has exploded as we look at the data collected by Real User Monitoring (RUM), meaning every session, every action, in every region and so on.

As much as I love data, data is cold, it lacks emotion. But we can aggregate data to understand the customer experience, to see the average load of a checkout page for example. And let’s say the Median is 4 seconds to visual complete. Often, 4s is too slow. But does it really matter? From this aggregate, I can drill down to a distribution of response time. And this is a bit more interesting to me. Now I can see 5% of customers are struggling with extremely long load times of 20s. And, I can go one step further, and find an individual user’s session where they tried to checkout and the page took 30s.

But if we’re honest, this still lacks emotion.

One place where data puts on skin and emotion is with Session Replay allowing us to watch a single customer struggle. Watch them move their mouse in frustration, rotate their phone when the display isn’t working, and rage click as the “next” button doesn’t work. And it’s amazing how watching a real customer struggle can change the tone and priority of any optimization discussion and bring that emotion to the table.

A recent example with a customer demonstrates this perfectly, as a valued customer of ours struggled with JavaScript errors, but it wasn’t clear if they were really impacting the end customer on our customer’s application. JavaScript errors are emotionless with simple data points of metrics. And it’s easy to ignore or argue metrics because they can’t argue back.

With Session Replay, however, it’s not so easy to ignore. Straight away after turning on Session Replay the entire conversation changed. We found a user session with the JavaScript error. We watched a customer build her dream vehicle on our customer’s auto site, spending almost 20 minutes changing options, investigating features, etc. and finally, at the end of the build process, when she was ready to send a quote to the dealer the site just spun and spun as she hit submit. She left the session and never came back. How do we know that? Session Replay tells us. I imagine she was frustrated not only with that digital experience, but maybe even the brand.

This one data point, full of emotion and life changed the priority and focus of our customer.

And the beauty of Session Replay is that they can then use this emotional data to change things in their business they may not have thought of in the past, bettering the experience. With this example, the JavaScript error was prioritized as a problem and fixed within hours, and the focus on JavaScript errors going forward was much higher. One human, emotional, experience changed all of that.

I still love data, but I am starting to love emotion-filled data. “Big” data helps us make the right decisions and focus on the right things. It helps us be precise, know where to optimize and spend our time. But it doesn’t always provide clarity or connection to our human peers and customers.

Session Replay does that. It takes data back to its human roots and brings human data to our big data world.