Automatic Visibility/Observability

 View Only

Bridging Business and Technical Insights with Instana: A Practical

By Dania Grave de Peralta Reyes posted Tue May 21, 2024 06:53 AM


Two weeks ago, a customer asked me to demonstrate how Instana can provide end-to-end visibility using a real-world example. His team was responsible for a mobile application that generates significant revenue for their company, making it crucial for them to consider various business aspects. For instance, they wanted to be alerted about drastic revenue losses before the business team raised concerns, allowing them to determine if a technical failure was impacting revenue. If the issue was indeed technical, they needed to understand how Instana could help identify the root cause and assist in resolving it.

The preparation

  1. Instrumented the Robot-warehouse Android application with Instana SDK: This automatically collects session starts, view transitions, HTTP requests, and crashes, enabling the detection of many technical issues. Since the Robot-warehouse backend is also monitored by Instana, the HTTP requests generated in the mobile app are automatically correlated with the full backend process. This provides true end-to-end visibility.
  2. Included a custom event with a custom metric: I set the metric value to the total amount of money in the cart every time the pay confirmation was received.
  3. Created additional custom events: I set up custom events for important actions in the application, such as search, filter, and payment confirmation, to understand how users interact with the app.
  4. Developed custom dashboards: I created dashboards to present the collected information in a way that is easy for my customer to consume and understand.

The demo

My demo starts off by showing a custom dashboard.

Revenue and customer journey - General

As you can see, the dashboard displays the total revenue generated within the selected timeframe and how it is distributed across different geographic areas. This data is compared with the previous timeframe, making it easy to identify any revenue decline.

How to do it?

Create a big number widget that sums all the custom metrics in the Order created custom events from mobile application robot-wharehouse.How to create the revenue widget

The dashboard also displays the number of view transitions for each critical step in the purchase process. This allows for easy identification of any significant drop-offs between steps, highlighting potential issues in the user journey.

How to do it?

Create a big number widget that sums all the view transitions to the view you are interested into validate.

How to create the view transition widget

The custom dashboard also includes links to similar custom dashboards that shows the same information by splits the data by geographic region.

How to do it?

Create a markdown widget including all links.

How to create markdown with link to custom dashboards

In this example there is not a big issue with general revenue, but in the Middle East Africa region the revenue is impacted of 60%. By following the Middle East/Africa region link you can navigate to the second dashboard, it is like the previous one, but specific to the Middle East/Africa region.

Revenue and customer journey - Middle East/Africa

In the dashboard you can notice there is abnormally low conversion in the first step of the conversion funnel (from Products to Cart). It indicates that there is a problem (technical or not) that needs to be addressed in Products view. From this point the investigation can continue to determine if the problem is a technical one that the mobile team can solve.

By following the Products link, it is possible to navigate to the standard Mobile app summary dashboard and analyze the information collected there. As you can see in the image below the link in the custom dashboard applied some filters: view=Product and region=middle east/Africa, so you can directly get the relevant information).

Products view - Middle East/Africa

As you can notice here, 83% of sessions transitioning to products view are affected by a crash. That’s definitively a technical issue that affects revenue generation.

To understand how many crashes are happening and why you can look at the Top Crash groups click the link and get all details.

Crash details


From the stacktrace information Instana is collecting and de-obfuscating it is possible to understand that there is an unhandled exception in ProductFilterActivity file, convertTodecimal function when parsing an Arabic character to a double value. With this info is enough to start solving the issue, but if you want to also understand how the users were interacting to the application in order to follow the same steps to reproduce the issue in your local environment, you can click the analyze crashes button and navigate to the sessions where the crash happened select one of them and see all details.


Here are the two key takeaways my customer gained from the demo:

  1. End-user monitoring custom events can include custom metrics, which can be utilized in dashboards and analytics screens.
  2. Instana provides crash analysis functionality for both iOS and Android native apps.

Are you discovering these capabilities for the first time? If you'd like to learn more, you can find detailed information on generating custom events with custom metrics for Android, iOS, and web applications. Additionally, more information about crash analysis can be found here.