Ensuring a revolutionary fan experience in the world of pro cyclingBlog
By Tim Wade: Senior Director of Technology and Architecture Consulting and by Mark Burton: Senior Technical Alliance Manager, Riverbed
How can end user experience monitoring help change the way people view a sporting event?
When you need to deliver data in real time to an audience across the world, understanding what the users are actually experiencing is essential. For Dimension Data’s Race Center, an excellent user experience is an essential to providing a new way of experiencing professional cycling.
Race Center pulls data from a number of sources, allowing fans to watch the race unfold in real time. Every year since its launch four years ago, the team behind it has added new functionality, pulling in additional data to supplement the core data. This core data is the speed and location of the 176 cyclists competing in the race. The system incorporates additional information, such as weather conditions and the gradient of the road, and generates a visualisation of the race that can be viewed online and shared across social media.
In the first year of the service we shared the data generated by a crash on social media, which created an immediate spike in the number of people using the service. This number has only increased year-on-year to a point where we’re seeing in excess of 100,000 concurrent users use Race Center to follow the race.
Because of this following, it’s essential that we focused on delivering a user experience that keeps people coming back. Monitoring the user experience is always tricky, because while there are ways to monitor overall load on the system, including the number of users and server performance they don’t show the complete picture. These indicators can show when the system is under pressure and allow the team to tweak the performance or increase the capacity on the cloud-based system. Race Center uses Riverbed SteelCentral AppInternals to monitor these elements, but what it doesn’t do is show exactly what the user is experiencing. This is because there are a number of other factors that could impact the user experience. These include the device that the person is using, the speed of their connection, or the load on their network.
By using Riverbed SteelCentral Aternity solution, we’re able to directly view how the users are experiencing the application. This allows the Race Center team to accurately see how long it takes for a user to access the information they’re looking for and if there are any complaints, and what specific issues may be contributing to the poor user experience.
As this is a public-facing application the system only monitors a pool of users who have consented to having their experience monitored. This pool provides enough data on the performance of the system to enable the team to effectively monitor the application, while still complying with global privacy regulations.
This allows them to tune the system in real time and resolve issues quickly and free up the team to focus on improving the service, rather than trying to troubleshoot issues that may be out of their control.
For the Race Center team this information is invaluable, but in an organisation it can be even more useful, allowing the IT team to understand exactly the experience of every user and quickly resolve their issues, including how the deployment of new applications and features are experienced from the user’s perspective, allowing them to accelerate or slow down deployments depending on the intelligence they receive from the system.
Join the webinar for more on delivering superior experiences at the world’s biggest cycle races.