Using AppDynamics Business iQ to Uncover Airline Competitive Seat-Blocking

November 13 2018

Here’s how an investigation into an abrupt plunge in an airline’s conversion rate could reveal a competitor’s damaging attack.

At AppDynamics, we frequently talk about how insights derived from application performance metrics can help achieve favorable business outcomes. It’s easy to imagine how this would be the case with a slow e-commerce application or full-blown outage, but there are many other use cases that don’t readily come to mind.

Here’s a hypothetical use case that illustrates the diversity of insights that AppDynamics Business iQ can provide. Imagine an airline has built a Business iQ dashboard showing the health of its reservation system. The normal look-to-book ratio—a travel industry metric showing the percentage of people who visit a travel site versus those who actually make a purchase—is about 15% in our hypothetical example.

A typical look-to-buy ratio.

The conversion funnel is part of several AppDynamics dashboards displayed in the airline’s global customer support center. In our use case, the “Get Availability” requests suddenly spike 50% to 125,093, while the conversion ratio drops by almost 400%—from 15% to 4%.

Flight risk: 4% is an abnormally low look-to-buy rate.

This low conversion ratio creates a business problem for the airline, which must hold back seats that other customers might want to purchase. At the same time, the high number of reserved seats triggers higher prices on the remaining unreserved seats—and in all likelihood causes customers to look elsewhere for cheaper tickets from other airlines.

By clicking “Get Availability” on the conversion funnel screen (above), we see a lot of mobile requests are coming from IP addresses that belong to public cloud data centers. These are illegitimate mobile users, as legitimate users would come from an IP address owned by mobile operators, not from public clouds. (To find out who owns a particular IP address, you can use a domain lookup website like ICANN’s WHOIS). Requests coming from IP addresses of public cloud data centers should be blocked from these APIs.

In our example, the airline then exports its table of mobile users to its IT security team, which implements proper filtering to block the rogue accounts (see “Export table as CSV” below). As a result, the mobile user requests quickly return to normal volume.

This near real-time business performance measurement greatly benefits the airline’s bottom line, enabling it to preserve millions of dollars in annual revenue. In addition, the sudden drop in the conversion ratio prompts the airline’s global IT operations center to probe into the company’s business transactions, a process vastly simplified—without any log-digging—by AppDynamics’ user-friendly UI. Business iQ enables the airline to solve the mystery of why some flights, which normally would be packed with passengers, are nearly empty.

The Benefits of Business iQ

This hypothetical case study shows how useful information is tucked away in enterprise systems, waiting to be discovered by an APM solution like AppDynamics. Of course, the problem of bogus tickets and low look-to-buy conversion rates existed long before before the deployment of APM. But in this case, the airline was unaware of the resulting revenue loss until it surfaced in the Business iQ dashboard, spurring its staff into action.

In a world of complex distributed systems and ruthless competitors, companies owe it to themselves to deploy a solution like AppDynamics Business iQ, which can identify potential problems like a sharp drop in conversion rates, as well as highlight the effect on the business and quickly diagnose root cause. The health of your business depends on it!

Felix Lam
Felix Lam is a Sales Engineering Manager at AppDynamics. He has extensive insights into customer experience, application and business performance management of FSIs and airlines. He is also passionate in growing the business with AppDynamics and Cisco partners. Prior to AppDynamics, Felix held presales leadership roles at Riverbed Technologies and Bell Canada.

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