Slow Applications Plague Businesses Worldwide – a ControlUp Research

Computers are meant to be faster than humans, which is probably the main reason we use computers at the workplace. Companies in every industry invest funds in IT systems that are supposed to make business happen more quickly and efficiently. However, waiting for a computer system to finish a task is still a familiar experience for most users.

At ControlUp, we have a privilege of being able to gather and analyze vast quantities of user experience data from a variety of organizations worldwide. This enables us to publish real-world anonymized statistics on topics such as logon duration, provisioning of computing resources to virtual machines, and more. This time, we are presenting a huge global dataset of application load time, which is the period of time that begins with a user clicking an icon and ends with the moment when the requested application is ready for work.

Why should you care about application load time? In brief, the main reason is the frustration and waste of time associated with using slow computer systems. Applications are meant to streamline business processes, and any unnecessary delay is leading to the opposite result. The damage caused by slow applications is especially tangible in service-oriented organizations, in which the slowness causes frustration on both sides of the counter (e.g. doctor and patient).

The current study is intended for IT professionals, decision makers and experts interested in researching and improving user experience for computer users at the workplace. Among the questions addressed by the study are:

  • Why is application load time important?
  • What are some adverse effects of long or unexpected application load time for your business?
  • How long a delay can be considered normal?
  • How do common workplace applications differ in their load time?
  • How to go about measuring application load time?
  • Which measures can be taken to reduce application load time and enhance user experience?

The chart below illustrates the results:

This dataset includes 116 million application launches in 280 organizations worldwide, focusing on common Microsoft Office apps (Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint) as well as Internet Explorer and Google Chrome. The measured variables include:

  • Average load time – the average delay associated with opening an application in each organization. For example, in some organizations Outlook may take 10 or more seconds to load.
  • Load time standard deviation – represents the variability of delays associated with opening an application in each organization, which presents a measure of user experience consistency.

For each application, the study outlines the global load time statistics. Subsequently, several approaches to reducing the load time are suggested for each application. Finally, common factors affecting load time for all applications are surveyed, along with a brief beginner’s guide on monitoring application load time.

We at ControlUp hope that this study will further expand our contribution to the growing body of global knowledge on user experience and IT best practices, and that it will encourage IT decision makers to improve the quality of service delivered to end users.

To download the full research, click here.