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Wednesday, 16 June 2010 17:01

Westpac web wings way to the top


Westpac CEO Gail Kelly strode down Sydney's George St today in a watermelon coloured suit. She had every reason to be in the pink; her bank's website was today rated the nation's fastest - 12 times the speed of NAB's and more than 100 times faster than RaboPlus'.

Gomez, which supplies tools to produce web performance benchmarks, today unveiled its first Australian bank website benchmark which Westpac clearly dominated. Its average website response time was 0.16 seconds, compared to NAB's 2.04 seconds and RaboPlus on 16.54 seconds.

The other three major banks ranked fourth (ANZ), seventh (Commonwealth) and ninth (NAB). Westpac subsidiary St George ranked third on 1.34 seconds. The overall average response time was 3.11 seconds - but that was pulled down by a couple of very poor performers.

Compuware, which last year paid $US295 million for Gomez, is now looking to drum up local business for the benchmarking tool. Of Gomez' 3,000 international companies just 11 are Australian. Clearly the banks are in its sights.

While this first benchmarking study focussed on the banks, Rafi Katanasho, Compuware director ANZ and Japan, said that it was no longer sufficient for organisations to benchmark their web site performance only against organisations in the same sector. He said consumer expectations had been raised by web sites provided by companies such as Google and Amazon, and companies in other sectors were increasingly under pressure to match those response levels.

Compuware backed its argument by citing statistics from other companies showing the impact of slow web performance. Bing for example had found that a two second slowdown translated into a 4.3 per cent reduction in revenue per user.

It also cited research from the Aberdeen Group which found that the a one second delay in response time for web users led to a 16 per cent drop in customer satisfaction.

What this benchmarking survey failed to measure was the actual time take to conduct an online banking transaction - it only tracked the raw time taken to access the banks' websites. It plans to benchmark transaction times in the future.

Compuware plans to repeat the banking benchmark study each month and will shortly also release a retailers' benchmarking study.

The company believes that the Gomez system, combined with its Vantage tool which can monitor systems performance behind the firewall, can be used together to provide organisations with a much clearer picture of systems performance, as perceived from the customer viewpoint.

The company is also using the Gomez benchmarking tool to monitor cloud computing suppliers.  A beta version of its CloudSleuth service, which provides a visual tool to monitor cloud systems, was released last month.

Cloud providers with international data centres may be interested in finer analysis of the Australian banking benchmark which seems to suggest that those banks with overseas data centres performed worst in terms of average web response times.

While cloud computing vendors often shrug off concerns about applications latency, the Gomez banking benchmark suggests that cloud applications supplied from overseas data centres may run significantly slower than they would if the data was stored locally. Overseas based banks RaboPlus, HSBC and CitiBank all had average response times higher than the average - in some cases significantly so.

'Some of the international banks do perform less well,' said Steve Jobson, Compuware's vice president for ANZ and Japan. 'There is going to be some latency,' when data centres are offshore he said.


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