Keynote Awards Web’s Fastest E-Commerce Performers

Keynote Systems today announced the winners of the 2005 Keynote Performance Awards.

Keynote said the annual awards program has two purposes. The first goal is to recognize and honor Web sites across a range of vertical industries. The second goal is to foster an environment of healthy competition among leading sites in a particular vertical and support the overall goal of Web site performance excellence.

“Each winner has every reason to feel proud of providing such consistently outstanding online customer experience,” said Vik Chaudhary, vice president of marketing and corporate development at Keynote.

“All the companies included in Keynote’s transaction indices and competitive intelligence studies are premier companies who pay strict attention to transactions, service levels and customer experience. To wind up at the top of any of these categories is a great achievement.”

Best Transaction Web Performance

Keynote’s Web Transaction Performance Awards are based on a set of industry-leading indices that measure the speed and availability for clicking through a multi-step business transaction on each of the Web sites that comprise a particular industry index.

This year Keynote honored the fastest and most available Web sites in nine online categories: brokerage, credit card, government, e-commerce, airline, hotel, travel agency, economy hotel and government.

Winners in the “Best Performance” category are E-Trade, Food and Drug Administration, Internal Revenue Service, JetBlue, Northwest, Marriot, Holiday Inn, PricelineBank of America, Office Depot, Eddie Bauer, Red Roof Inns, and Motel 6.

Best Service Levels

Keynote said its competitive intelligence service level studies probe much deeper into the reliability and responsiveness of leading Web sites in a particular industry than do the Web transaction performance indices. However, the service level studies are time-limited, whereas the transaction indices run all year round.

The service level studies are based on a comparison of key performance factors that describe the technical quality and health of a site. Keynote Performance Awards were presented for “Best Service Levels” in 10 categories: auto insurance, banking (customers), banking (prospects), brokerage (customers), brokerage (prospects), computer hardware, credit card (customers), retail, VoIP, wireless (prospects).

Winners in the “Best Service Level” category are Geico, Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo, E-Trade, Ameritrade, Apple Computer, Bank of America, Williams Sonoma, Vonage, and Virgin Mobile.

Best Customer Experience

Finally, Keynote’s competitive intelligence customer experience studies of leading industries rely on actual user behavior and feedback to benchmark the customer experience and its impact on brand and conversion.

Study results are based on the evaluation of more than 250 metrics from thousands of participants as they interact with the sites included in a particular study. Keynote Performance Awards were presented for “Customer Experience” in 16 industry categories: airline (customers), auto insurance (prospects), banking (customers), banking (prospects), brokerage (prospects), computer hardware, credit card (prospects), cruise, dating (customers/prospects), lodging, rental cars, retail, search, third partyauto, UK retail, wireless provider.

The winners of Keynote’s “Best Customer Experience” awards are Expedia, The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, Bank of America, Wachovia, E-Trade, Amazon, Discover, Yahoo! Personals, Orbitz, Google, Kelley Blue Book and Wirefly.

What Does It All Mean?

Beyond the free publicity, what does all of this really mean?

Peter Christy, analyst with the Internet Research Group, told the E-Commerce Times it reminds him of when IBM used to research the impact of performance on the use of computer systems. As a result, he said, developers designed applications to meet a performance rule that stated a simple request should be answered in half a second.

“When the Internet came around, even if it took 20 seconds to paint the page, who was to say that that was too slow?” Christy asked. “Even today, if you ask someone to prove the business value of increased application performance with dollar evidence it’s a really hard problem.”

Hard problem or not, Christy is convinced that companies will begin to understand that making network-based applications as responsive as PC-based applications is justifiable. While Keynote undoubtedly creates publicity for its measurement services with its awards, Christy said the topic is still under appreciated and he predicted it will grow in importance.

“In the end performance is coming back. It’s not coming back as a faddish topic — mine is faster than yours. It’s coming back because of the growing understanding that performance and availability are the same thing,” Christy said. “As you build business applications that companies depend on, all of the sudden if the performance is down the business is performing poorly.”

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