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Prescriptive Adoption Motion - Digital Experience Monitoring


Digital experience monitoring is a customer-centric approach to observability that focuses on customer experience as the primary signal for system health rather than infrastructure or application availability. DEM emerged to help businesses identify and respond to issues that impact user engagement with their website or app. Digital experience monitoring comprises Splunk Real User Monitoring (RUM), endpoint monitoring (device-level performance), and Splunk Synthetic Monitoring.

Using the combined strengths of Splunk Real User Monitoring and Splunk Synthetic Monitoring (including endpoint monitoring), software development teams can maintain or improve uptime and performance. Doing so leads to better user-experiences, which drive better business results like user engagement, conversion, increased revenue, longer time on site, and decreased abandonment. Studies have proven that web page performance is good for business, and customers are increasingly seeing performance as a website feature.

The benefits of digital experience monitoring include:

  • Easily finding and quickly resolving errors, latency and anomalies from every page, resource, dynamic component, and third party dependency, for both traditional server-side rendered multi-page apps and modern client-side rendered single page apps.
  • Benchmarking and optimizing your customer experience with core web vitals as the standard for page load, interactivity, and visual stability.
  • Prioritizing the issues that impact your customers, webpages, and mobile apps the most. AI-driven troubleshooting uses all your data and enterprise-grade analytics to provide recommendations for which problems to fix first.
  • Easily identifying latency, errors and poor performance for each code change and deployment.
  • Measuring how content, images, and third-party dependencies impact your customers.

Aim and strategy

Increasingly, people who are highly familiar with technology are shifting their focus from merely ensuring a website or mobile application is online (uptime) to using standardized performance metrics like core web vitals for service level objectives (SLOs). They do this to bring web and engineering teams together, working towards common goals for enhancing customer experience.

Effective engineering teams set specific standards for user experience and customer satisfaction for each release. They also test user experience earlier in the development process, even integrating it into continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines. Additionally, they give priority to resolving the most noticeable performance issues.

Splunk Observability Cloud helps optimize web, mobile, and application performance with best in class digital experience monitoring solutions - Splunk Synthetic Monitoring and Splunk Real User Monitoring.

Splunk Real User Monitoring and Splunk Synthetic Monitoring are DEM solutions that deliver this use case by enabling IT operations teams, engineering teams, and service owners to troubleshoot faster, optimize performance and build better digital services, and deliver better user experiences. Splunk Real User Monitoring and Splunk Synthetic Monitoring complement each other. Splunk Synthetic Monitoring works by utilizing an agent to simulate end-user requests and measure performance, while Splunk Real User Monitoring collects information only when real users visit a site or application.

Splunk Synthetic Monitoring offers 24/7 monitoring to proactively monitor and alert across critical endpoints, APIs, and business transactions and helps proactively find and fix issues of poor functionality or performance before engineering teams push new code. Teams can embed web performance into CI/CD processes with automatic pass/fails of new code based on performance budgets and standards. Splunk Synthetic Monitoring is often used to improve W3C metrics and the Lighthouse Performance Score on which Google bases its search rankings. It offers fast time to value as no deployment is required.

Splunk Real User Monitoring offers visibility of the experience of their end-users across device types, web browsers, and geographies, helping identify slowness (latency) across transactions and the entire architecture to eliminate and prevent slowness that impacts end-users. Since Splunk Real User Monitoring connects transactions from the web browser through backend services, it helps on-call engineers spot slowness or errors, regardless of where a problem originates across a distributed system.

User roles

Role Responsibilities

Splunk Observability Cloud Admin

Configure Splunk Real User Monitoring and Splunk Synthetic Monitoring solutions in Splunk Observability Cloud.

Process Owner

Make decisions concerning global process definition and solution requirements definition and approval.

Engineering Team

Provide self-service tooling for developers to improve productivity and create consistency across teams.

Site Reliability Engineer (SRE)

Deploy and manage apps and cloud infrastructure, and ensure reliability.

Business Analyst

Work with the business and end users to understand and document business requirements.

Quality Assurance (QA)

Responsible for functionality testing.


1. Prerequisites

If the site or application you are monitoring uses allow lists or block lists for visitors or an analytics tool to measure traffic, test that it is configured to accommodate traffic from Splunk Synthetic Monitoring. See Configure your site to accommodate synthetic tests for instructions.

2. Recommended training

3. Resources

  • On-Demand Services - Splunk Synthetic Monitoring - Splunk ODS can assist with the following activities:
    • Implement
      • Account setup
      • Integration configuration
      • Scripting configuration
      • Advanced scripting configuration
      • Alerting configuration
      • Reporting and dashboard configuration
    • Use/Adopt
      • Reporting and dashboard review
      • Optimization performance test configuration
    • Optimize/Scale
      • KPI workshop
      • Performance workshop
      • Web optimization review

4. Considerations

Splunk Synthetic Monitoring and Splunk Real User Monitoring are part of Splunk Observability Cloud. To get started with Splunk Observability Cloud, follow the instructions in the Splunk Docs topic, Set up and administer Splunk Observability Cloud. New users might also be interested in an overview of important terms and concepts.

Some of the main considerations for setting up an effective digital experience monitoring program include:

  • Identify which services and user journeys are most critical for business, and prioritize those monitoring tests, for example:
    • Inventory and location selection
    • Search filters, browsing, product options, cart checkout
    • Joining and signing in
  • Think about how the tests could support any business initiatives, such as better mobile experience, new app releases, site redesign, new marketing campaigns, vendor evaluation, and platform migration.
  • Think about any relevant projects, such as new vendors, site redesign, marketing campaigns, and major releases. If nothing stands out, how do you compare to competitors?
  • Use defect policies in optimization to align best practices with your business needs.
  • Leverage reports and dashboards to prove value over time.
  • Determine which type of tests to create:
    • API tests and uptime tests for availability of critical services/ports
    • Real browser tests for frontend user experience monitoring

Availability is a fundamental aspect of monitoring digital experiences. It involves ensuring the web application is accessible and operational for its intended users. It is similar to having your favorite physical store open for business, so you can make purchases. If the application is unavailable, all other aspects of its functioning become irrelevant.

After availability monitoring is implemented using APIs and uptime tests, it is essential to assess performance. Real browser tests can help with this evaluation. Analogous to measuring the time it takes for a shopper to complete their purchase at a physical store, performance measures for applications include determining the time it takes for a user to receive a checkout complete message after clicking the pay now button. These performance measures are all related to cycle time, which refers to the time taken to finish a task.

Splunk Real User Monitoring has system limits that help ensure good performance, stability, and reliability. These limits also protect the RUM multi-tenant environment. Exceeding these limits might degrade your RUM experience. Review the RUM system limits prior to deployment.

Implementation guide

Implementing digital experience monitoring involves two Splunk solutions: Splunk Synthetic Monitoring and Splunk Real User Monitoring. The following provides high-level steps to get started with implementing each solution.

Splunk Synthetic Monitoring

  1. Set up a few basic tests for your most critical services, such as browser, uptime, and API tests.
  2. Assess what you know and where you are today. What's the data, and why is it important to you? What do you need help understanding or analyzing?
  3. Identify key business initiatives, KPIs, people, and projects.
  4. Create advanced tests that align to your priorities. Use threshold monitors, integrations, and tests in pre-prod.
  5. Gather data and fine-tune tests and reports. Set yourself up for success in scaling up through efficient use of tags, naming conventions, and global variables.
  6. Identify your next steps, i.e. what is needed to maintain and scale. Do you need more internal or external resources? What kind of reports and dashboards are the most helpful?

Here are some best practice articles to assist with implementing the above steps:

  • Introduction and getting started. Create detailed tests to monitor the speed and reliability of websites, web apps, and resources over time, at any stage in the development cycle
  • Setting up Splunk Synthetic Monitoring. Get started by creating your first test directly in the Splunk Synthetic Monitoring user interface. There are three types of tests you can run: browser, uptime, and API.
  • Creating alerts and detectors. Setting up detectors is a crucially important step. Without alerts, monitoring cannot help your business.
  • Creating dashboards and visualizations. Charts enable you to visualize any metrics you send into Observability Cloud, while dashboards are essentially collections of multiple charts. They can be as simple or as complex as necessary, and provide useful and actionable insight into your system at a glance.

Splunk Real User Monitoring

Generate your Splunk Real User Monitoring access token

A Splunk Real User Monitoring token is a public key used only during ingestion. To create the RUM token, you need to be an administrator in Splunk Observability Cloud. For more information, see Create and manage organization access tokens using Splunk Observability Cloud.

Here are some best practice articles to assist with implementing the above steps:

Success measurement

When implementing the guidance in this adoption guide, you should see improvements in the following:

  • Web application uptime and performance
  • UX and conversion rates
  • Page load times
  • Service Level Agreements (SLA) and Service Level Objectives (SLO)
  • User journeys
  • Resource response time
  • Service performance
  • Visually complete time
  • Javascript errors
  • RED metrics - Request rate, Error rate, Duration