Why CIOs Need To Worry About Page Loading Speeds Print E-mail 

Based on studies conducted by Dynatrace, 47% of online consumers expect a web page to load within 2 seconds. On the other hand, 40% say that they will likely abandon a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, while 52% state that quick page loading is important for their site loyalty. More importantly, in the same study nearly 80% of the online shoppers surveyed say that they are less likely to buy from the same site again if they are not satisfied with the performance of the website.

Affecting the Bottom Line

Companies that do business online should understand the importance of optimizing their websites or web pages. Loading time affects the bottom line. It has effects that go beyond plain consumer dissatisfaction or frustration over a site. As the research has showed, there are many things affected by web page loading time.

Page abandonment is one of the major adverse results of a slow loading website. The longer a page takes to load, the higher the page abandonment rate becomes. This is just what many would expect. Nobody would want to spend more time on one online store when there are hundreds or thousands of others that could offer a better experience.

Consumer engagement also suffers when a website takes time to load or when it is not as responsive as how consumers desire it to be. Consumer engagement, by the way, can be defined as the way a consumer interacts with the store and demonstrates interest in the products being offered. If the product galleries of an online store, for instance, require several seconds to show photos and product specs, consumers will likely leave. 

Conversion and customer retention, moreover, are direly affected by slow page loading. As the Aberdeen Group, Google, and Microsoft reported, a mere 1-second delay already translates to 11% fewer page views, 16% customer satisfaction reduction, and a 7% loss in conversions. Also, a website performance issue will make 37% to 49% of site visitors switch to a competing website. It’s also important to remember that most consumers are likely to rant about or share their bad experience with others. This is the opposite of word of mouth, which results in lost customers even before they become potential customers.

Catering to Shorter Attention Spans

Online consumers’ attention spans are way shorter than those of their offline counterparts. This is the case with Internet users in general. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (of the US National Library of Medicine), the average human attention span has been reduced from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8 seconds in 2013. The main culprit for this is technological advancement that has been creating a wide variety of external stimuli, especially on the Internet where various types of media are displayed. This shortening human attention span is nothing new. Even in the early 2000’s, there were already reports about attention span issues brought about by the increasing presence of digital technology. 

Businesses don’t have the luxury of time and “concern” to try to address this shortening human attention span problem. Instead, it’s more practical to turn to interfaces that are more suitable to the shorter attention spans of online shoppers. Aside from making web pages or online store displays appealing but concise, it’s essential to shorten page loading time to optimal levels. It’s already difficult trying to catch an online shopper’s attention with content, so just imagine how worse things could get when you have nothing to show yet because it’s taking a lot of time to load. 

Addressing Slow Loading Times

Slow page loading times are certainly avoidable. There are ways to avoid making pages that take longer than two seconds to load.

One of the most important things to do to shorten loading time is to optimize web pages. Optimization can be through a number of ways, which may include some or all of the following: optimizing image file sizes (through the “save for web” option in image editors), the efficient use of image formats, GZIP compression, loading scripts and CSS externally, good site coding, web page caching (example: through plugins like WP Super Cache), and using 301 redirects prudently. Google has a great online page speed test and optimization that can gauge a site’s speed and offer suggestions to help improve page speed. Consider using it.

For websites that enjoy high amounts of traffic, there are considerable benefits in using content delivery networks (CDNs) and load balancing. CDNs help optimize load speeds by reducing server lag. This is done by delivering cached static content from a distributed array of servers around the globe, thereby reducing latency and processing load on servers. CDN services work well in conjunction with load balancing, and some services will actually bundle in these two services together.

Load balancing refers to the distribution of traffic and processing load across multiple servers to reduce response time, maximize throughput, optimize resource use, and prevent instances of overloading. This can be done through various means, such as DNS-based balancing, through a physical appliance or with a cloud-based platform-as-a-service load balancing solution. The basic premise is to ensure servers are running at optimal levels, and are not overloaded even with traffic spikes and heavy load.

Geographical targeting or geotargeting may also be used to serve content deemed most suitable for the site visitor. Geotargeting identifies a site visitor’s location (usually the country, region, state, or IP address) to limit the amount of content presented according to perceived relevance. | Photo by renjith krishnan


The advantages of faster page loading are compellingly demonstrated by many of the Internet’s leading companies. Amazon, for one, reports having a 1% gain in revenue for every 0.1 second of page loading improvement. Shopzilla gained 12% revenue and 25% page view increases after cutting page loading time by 4.8 seconds. Yahoo, likewise, reported increased traffic (at 9%) for every 0.4 seconds of page loading time improvement. There’s just no reason why you shouldn't try to improve your page loading time.

The effects of page loading speed to businesses engaged in online activities are undeniable. Even one second or a split-second difference can translate to considerable increases or reductions in sales, customer engagement, conversions, and customer satisfaction. Thanks (or no thanks?) to the shrinking attention spans of most Internet users, businesses need to understand and work around the importance of speed in presenting content online. 

How To Pick The Right Technology Infrastructure For Web Meetings Print E-mail

Of late, a lot of energy and time has been spent by CIOs on ensuring security and data privacy. But with growing reliance on technology, tasks such as client meetings which used to be handled by HR now comes under the purview of the CIO. An increasing number of businesses today require the CIO to make decisions on the kind of collaboration infrastructure for web meetings, conferences and webinars.


Given the sheer number of options available, it might seem like a simple plug and play. But there are potential downsides and consequences to the platforms that you choose. Skype, the most popular choice for video meetings has little to no features available for sophisticated business meetings. WebEx, one of the popular choice among enterprise customers is too overwhelmed by technology and often requires the assistance of an expert technical team to handle the connections and interactions. In addition to this, it is also extremely expensive for regular sized businesses.


As a CIO, you may pick one of these popular choices that have already made a name for themselves in the market. However, you would either be compromising on the features or the budget. It is hence important to do a cost benefit analysis of the features you need, the quality of service offered and the end cost to arrive at the right tool for your business. Here are some features you must look for in your conference tool.


Audio/Video Conferencing: This is the lifeline of any sales interaction. The ideal tool should let you connect over a phone line or a browser and should provide both audio and video interaction.


Is Not A Software : The trouble with tools like Skype is that it is a software. This means that all the attendees need to have it installed for the meeting to take place. Ensure that the service you pick can be accessed over a browser and the attendees need not anything apart from clicking on a link to be able to access the meeting.


Desktop Sharing : Sales interactions over the web inevitably require the sales manager to take their customers or prospects through the product and its features. This is not possible without desktop sharing (where it is made possible for the attendees to view the presenter's desktop screen). This also makes it easy to take attendees through presentations, word documents, multiple software without the need for attendees to open multiple documents.


Record Meetings : A web conferencing tool need not be just that. Content marketing is proving to be an immensely valuable strategy for gaining new clients. An increasing number of marketers have now been demanding video tutorials from the technical team that can be put up on YouTube for inbound lead generation. According to Jarek Wasielewski of ClickMeeting, such content marketed over blogs and social websites also help with SEO and can generate viral buzz. So if your business has plans for content marketing, make sure that your web conferencing tool also provides the ability to record meetings. This way, the content can be reused as a marketing tool for building new leads.


Mobile Apps : A number of popular web conferencing and webinar tools are still strictly desktop-based. Depending on who your prospects are, it is difficult to get them all to access your meeting via a computer at the same time. With mobile apps, it is easy to connect different attendees even when they are on the move.


Besides the above features, you may also have other needs like custom branding tools, API access, etc. Also, you may not need all of the above features for your company's specific needs. It is hence recommended that you invest in a service that offers exactly what you need and no fluff. Fluff costs money. Also, considering that the quality you showcase through such meetings have a bearing on your sales and revenues, ensure that the product you choose is quality in order to prevent slow connectivity and network disruptions.


What other considerations did you take into account while picking a conferencing tool for your company? Share them with us in the comments.  

CIOs Choose Their Top 5 Strategic Priorities in 2015 Print E-mail

 According to a recent gathering and discussion of strategic priorities among CIOs at a CIO Journal event, CIOs reached a consensus on a prioritized set of recommendations to drive business and policy for their organizations in the coming year.

After a full range of discussion topics consensus seemed to form around two major themes: cybersecurity, and delivering change through effective communication with the rest of the business.

According to the Journal here are the top five:

"1. Make security everyone’s business. Ensure everyone in the business community, including vendors and other third parties, know what the boundaries are, what needs to be protected and where there’s room for flexibility. When it comes to security, everyone connected to the business is a cop on the beat. That said, everyone is also a target. CIOs can help build comprehensive education systems across layers of their companies that include governance at every step. In today’s connected age, CIOs mused on the idea that “everyone is a sensor,” and therefore susceptible to the opportunities and challenges in today’s threat landscape.

2. Cyber risk = business risk. A primary responsibility for a CIO or CISO when talking to the CEO or board of directors is to articulate how cybersecurity translates into dollars and cents. Putting monetary value on security events, and tying security to real-life business cases, can show senior executives the potential impact of a cyber event in terms that make sense to them.

3. Be the change agent. CIOs can no longer afford to sit around simply absorbing the change that filters through their organizations. Instead, CIOs themselves should work to drive change at all levels of the business. How to do it? Understand the steps needed to create change in the first place; factor corporate culture into your plans; pace yourself; and fight to deliver tangible business outcomes.

4. Have a business-centric vision. As CIOs look to create change within their organizations, strategic vision and execution will be essential. CIOs highlighted the importance of speaking the language of business, tailoring the message to stakeholders and using terms they’re comfortable with. Once CIOs have communicated and executed on their visions, it’s crucial to measure success. After that, rinse and repeat.

5. Anticipate a “cyber 9/11” event. Cybersecurity incidents aren’t going away, and there’s a good chance they’ll get worse. To handle potential catastrophic events, cybersecurity issues should be elevated to an international level. That means companies and governments across industries and regions must organize themselves and prepare for what could come. CIOs likened the process to securing a common cyber-border, sharing information across a number of partners to ensure each stakeholder is optimally protected."


Big Data Initiatives Yield Nascent Results at Many Organizations Print E-mail

Many CIOs recognize Big Data analytics is a technology-enabled strategy for helping their organizatins gain richer, deeper, and more accurate insights into customers, partners, and business operations. The growing arsenal of tools, techniques, and technologies should ultimately provide a competitive advantage and increased agility by deriving insight from complex, large data sets. By processing a steady stream of real-time or static data, CIOs provide their organizations capabilities to make time-sensitive decisions faster, monitor emerging trends, course-correct rapidly, and jump on new business opportunities.

How is this playing out in 2015?

A recent Capgemini survey of 225 companies demonstrates lacking results for many corporate big data initiatives thus far.

On the positive side of the research there continues to be significant movement of applications to the cloud.

The survey report states that approximately 36 percent of global organizations use cloud-based big data and analytics platforms. The 36 percent figure represents a realistic adoption rate for cloud-based data analytics, considering the fact that most analytics vendors have only recently started the migration of their clients from in house to the cloud-based deployments.

Interestingly, nearly 60 percent of survey respondents believe that big data will disrupt their industry within the next three years but the survey also shows that only 13 percent have achieved full-scale production for their big data implementations including predictive insights fully integrated into their business operations.

But How Successful are Big Data Deployments?

In the survey, only 27 percent of respondents described their big data initiatives as "successful," and only eight percent described them as "very successful." Organizations were found to be struggling even with their proof-of-concept projects, with an average success rate of only 38 percent.

The survey finds the main obstacle to big data success is scattered silos of data. Approximately 79 percent of organizations have not fully integrated their data sources across the organization. This means decision-makers lack a unified view of data, which prevents them from taking accurate and timely decisions.

What are the main impediments to successful deployments? Many experts cite their legacy systems to not easily feed data to the newly deployed Big Data application as many of them are constructed on new architectures with incompatible data stores and access protocols. These translation tools will continue to evolve.



Six “Romantic” Qualities of Tomorrow's CIO (And, In Fact, Any Leader) Print E-mail

Aspiring to lead their company’s digital transformation, CIOs often get bogged down by the demands of day-to-day business. If they want to strengthen IT as a strategic function that has a seat at the table, then they must lead and not just serve. They must move from information to imagination. But how?


Being a business-savvy technology strategist in addition to being a technology expert is a good start, but there’s another, often underrated dimension: I call it the “romantic” side of business. Business and romance? You may shudder at first at the sheer thought of such an unholy marriage. And the last department you can ever imagine “romanticizing” is IT, right? But wait, not so fast. Certain“romantic qualities” may indeed be beneficial for tomorrow’s CIOs and their organizations—and in fact every technology-savvy leader. Here are six of them:


1.    Feel more and show it: Romantics believe emotion eats reason for breakfast. Similarly, smart CIOs know their success not only hinges on connectivity, but connection. They must not only be communication enablers, but also excellent, empathetic communicators. They can’t solely rely on being reliable, but also on establishing meaningful relationships with their colleagues. This will help them overcome the perception that IT is just a “service” that checks off helpdesk tickets when things are broken. It’s the check-ins when things are working, the casual chat in the cafeteria, the occasional “phone-call-without-agenda,” that build good will and foster the impression that there are real, caring human beings between all the machines in the neon-lit server room. And when there’s a real crisis and the system is down, express how bad you feel instead of just the usual “we will fix it asap” boilerplate response. Show passion, not just professionalism. You’d be surprised how much people care—if you do.


2.    Give more than you take: If romantics believe something is the right thing to do, they are happy to transcend the principles of tit-for-tat in favor of pure giving. A CIO of an airline once told me, “First we need to cover the basics, then we can innovate and do all the fun stuff.” But this is a false dichotomy. Effective CIOs do both and find ways to make one work for the other. At Frog Design, CIO Christian Schluender managed all systems and built an entire asset management system inhouse, but also produced a series of internal videos that poked fun at the IT team and quickly went viral among employees. Produced on a shoestring, the videos were effective in showcasing IT’s creative prowess—which was paramount to being accepted as equals in a design firm. This may serve as an important reminder for IT teams across industries: excellence does not only come from over-delivery, but often just from generosity—from those casual gifts, those irreverent “hacks,” that make our lives at work more delightful. There is no reason why we shouldn’t expect them from IT.


3.    Create beauty: Romantics appreciate the beauty inherent in the most mundane objects and experiences. And seriously, why must the ever-so-functional business be immune to aesthetical pleasures? CIOs can bring together the corporation (arguably the most powerful organization of our time) and technology (arguably the most powerful tool of our time) to not only create solutions to problems that meet our need for convenience and comfort, but also conjure up elegance and yes, even magic. IT is a product-builder, after all, and the principles of state-of-the-art user experiences apply to every database, mobile app, and microsite that it builds and distributes. CIOs should make top-notch UI designers an integral part of their team. Steve Jobs famously insisted on beautiful (invisible) interiors in every device Apple shipped. Likewise, CIOs can create beauty from the inside and use the backbones of their organization to shape its soul.


4.    Build things that don’t last: Romance lies in the elusive, fleeting moments that disrupt our daily lives with unexpected delight. In other words: Romantic is what doesn’t last. Just a few years ago, ephemerality would have been anathema to CIOs. Not anymore. Formerly rewarded for building things that last, IT now needs to become an expert in building things that don’t. As innovation and go-to-market cycles accelerate, a companies’ systems and infrastructure must become more nimble and allow for on-the-fly adjustments and ad-hoc reconfigurations. “Super-flexibility” is the buzzword of the day, describing a culture that is designed to facilitate the rapid flow of information within highly adaptive, fluid organizations that instantly adjust to ever-evolving external and internal circumstances. Quick fixes are the new permanent. Like romantics, CIOs are “shapeshifters” who sacrifice consistency for agility, and are quick to give up policies should they stifle entrepreneurship and creativity.


5.    Lose control: The trend toward software-as-a-service and open-source may uncalcify legacy IT infrastructure, but it also means giving up control. With the consumerization of IT and social technologies spawning transparency and democratization, IT departments are no longer the gatekeepers. Instead of upholding rigid standards, CIOs must now act as concierges, curators, or even tastemakers, tasked with providing their colleagues the best access to the best technology available— inside and outside of their organization. While serving as the CTO of the World Economic Forum, Brian Behlendorf led the venerable institution to embracing an open data strategy, and the CIO of the city of Palo Alto, Jonathan Reichental, is widely acclaimed for its use of “civic hackathons” and crowdsourcing in his mission to “build a new operating system for government in the 21st century.” In best romantic tradition, these CIOs know that losing control can present new, richer opportunities. It is where the exciting stuff happens.


6.    Transcend the here and now: In the cracks of the empirical, information-based reality, romantics find the seeds of tomorrow. They can see the world not as it is, but as it could be. CIOs, too, have the opportunity to not just be safeguards of the doable, but apostles of the possible. Only if CIOs risk being fools will they be taken seriously. With their head in the cloud and their feet on the ground, they must use technology not just as reality check, but as crystal ball. At its heart, the quest for a better future—in other words, “innovation”— is a romantic pursuit. Stuart Evans, a Carnegie Mellon University professor who helped conduct a recent survey among Fortune 500 CIOs, believes that “CIOs are leading the transformation toward a digital enterprise. This effort requires the CIO to bring together cross-functional business units by providing a ‘romantic’ vision for re-invention.” Patrick Naef, award-winning CIO of Emirates Airlines, is using IT to reinvent travel, including an Innovation Lab in Dubai and a whole host of initiatives that are designed to restore the romance of air travel through highly data-driven personalized customer experiences.


Stuart Evans told me that “In the future, many of the CIO’s skills and capabilities will be needed in CEO’s and Board directors.” Besides the grasp of technology, perhaps the CIO can indeed pave the way for more business leaders to become “Business Romantics” and usher in a new generation of companies that don’t make us check our hearts and our dreams when we log on.


More than ever, amid hyper-connectivity, big data, and the quantification of everything, we crave experiences that honor our unpredictable, inconsistent, and wondrous selves: IT is uniquely positioned to deliver them.


To learn more, please see my new book THE BUSINESS ROMANTIC (HarperCollins).




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