How to increase responsiveness and drive digital transformation

Recently, we delved into the importance of digital transformation and explored how leading organizations focus on performance to drive their digital transformation forward. Now, we’re turning to another crucial component of digital transformation: responsiveness. Below, we’ll explore why the ability to react quickly is so critical today, and how companies ranging from HotelTonight to Gannett/USA Today transformed their business through an innovative focus on responsiveness.

The ever-increasing importance of responsiveness

Businesses have always needed to react quickly to market demands, competition, and changing customer tastes. But the advent of the internet introduced all-new considerations, and ultimately, a different model for business success. As technology continues to evolve, consumer expectations and behavior so too change with it.

It’s no longer enough for business to simply put up a website. Across industries, companies need to evolve right alongside the rapid technological advances taking place. In other words, you need a highly responsive business to thrive in today’s environment.

What are some tangible examples of responsiveness? Businesses need to establish mobile parity — or, ensuring your website and mobile app look and function seamlessly, regardless of what device your user might be on. And every touchpoint needs sleek, optimized images and videos, easy navigation, and SEO-friendly content, so your pages rank highly in search and draw in new eyes.

And there are more specific use cases, too: for those in eCommerce or travel and hospitality, an accurate reflection of inventory needs to be consistently updated — and in real-time. Regardless of what industry you’re in, technology teams need the ability to iterate, test, and deploy at lightning speed. Responsiveness is crucial for digital transformation, and several Fastly customers focused their efforts in these areas to achieve real results.

Better caching, more optimized experiences

HotelTonight is a popular mobile app providing easy, on-the-go bookings for unsold hotel inventory. And while everyone wants a sleek, responsive online experience, it’s even more important for mobile apps to focus on this, as they’re customers are subject to cell network latency.

By leveraging Fastly, and caching both the static and dynamic content for hotel bookings, HotelTonight dramatically increased their cache hit ratio. This means they’re serving more content to their users from the edge — or, as close to their end users as possible. This boosts their application response times and delivers their users the optimal experience, despite those built-in fluctuations in cell network performance.

Harlow Ward, Rails Engineering Lead at HotelTonight, explained further. “From a mobile perspective, speed is king. We need the app to be totally responsive. The challenge for us is always going to be mobile network latency, [which] has been cut down significantly.”

And because HotelTonight’s serving content on Fastly edge servers, they’re saving on expenses for their origin infrastructure, as they need fewer servers to handle requests. This isn’t just good for savings: it frees up their engineers to improve their platform, explore and innovate on new technology, and be a more flexible and responsive team as a whole.

Real-time everything

Gannett is a leading news media company operating USA Today and an impressive network of local papers. For publishers, the need to quickly deliver content, update it, and troubleshoot is of paramount importance to their reputation and success — and Gannett needed to do this across an expansive breadth of web properties.

When Gannet moved to Fastly, they migrated over 100 websites in the USA Today Network. One of the key reasons they did this was to leverage real-time responsiveness — including the ability to make changes across their network, immediately. Harnessing responsiveness at this scale was crucial for events like the 2018 Olympics, where a massive spike in traffic was predictable. As every event and score changed, they needed information to be updated constantly — and the real-time capabilities they tapped into enabled this.

As Software Developer Bridget Lane puts it, “We were able to start doing things instantly, which includes instant deployments. So if we’re making a change — especially across our local news network — this is happening instantly. And we have instant metrics, so we get to have visibility into what’s going on immediately.”

This visibility includes miss rates and hit rates, which is critical feedback not only for developers, but also editorial and marketing teams who need to see what’s working, and what could be working better, at the highest levels.

Responsiveness as fuel for creativity

By accessing real-time data and deploying changes instantly, businesses can ensure their users enjoy speedier, more relevant experiences. But responsiveness has an added benefit for internal teams: it frees up precious time in the day to let employees get back to do doing what they do best, and focus on innovation and creativity. Ultimately, the ability to respond to changing, dynamic environments is not just an essential component of digital transformation, but it’s also a liberating one for businesses of all kinds.

Rachel Goldberg
Content Marketing Manager

4 min read

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Rachel Goldberg
Content Marketing Manager

Rachel Goldberg is the Content Marketing Manager at Fastly. Previously, she's overseen editorial, UX, and copywriting at Vimeo and SideTour (acquired by Groupon). In addition to crafting words for tech companies, she can be found writing fiction, supporting environmental causes, and dreaming of better guitar skills.

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