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Clicks and Keys: The New Unit of Labor in IT

How much does a mouse click or keystroke cost your business?

It's likely that everyone at your company, or at least your IT team, spends most of the day clicking and typing in the course of their regular duties. The hours they work are tracked, but nobody's counting the clicks. Why would you?

What if you're in the middle of a service outage, and your whole IT team is in a war room, clicking and typing away trying to find the problem and fix it? Gartner estimates the average application outage costs businesses $5,600 per minute. That's about $93 per second. Even a unit of work as atomic as a click or a keystroke starts to have measurable value when the stakes hit that level. Even if your outages are much less costly, when customers are suffering, every second matters.

For businesses whose revenue is closely tied to speed and reliability, a focus on efficiency in these atomic units of work has historically yielded massive gains, allowing them to blow past their competitors. These practices have been codified and named; Lean, Agile, TPS, Kaizen,... but they all boil down to the same principle of constantly examining and improving your processes, removing unnecessary actions to achieve tiny gains that, over time, add up to an insurmountable competitive advantage.

Let's look at some historical examples:

In 1965, the Wood brothers cut the average 50-second Indy car pit stop down to 20 seconds, giving their driver a 30 second advantage over the other teams and forever upping the ante in a highly competitive sport where every second counts. Their improvements led to a race where their team's car led 190 laps out of 200, with many attributing the win to the efficiency of the pit crew.

So how did they achieve such dramatic results? With two simple tweaks which allowed smoother operations and took better advantage of gravity within the the fueling process:

  • They filed and polished fuel hoses so they would connect and disconnect easily.
  • They kept the hoses level so they didn't sag, keeping the fuel flowing faster.

By tweaking the most time-consuming parts of the pit stop, they were able to increase their efficiency by 60%; a race-winning improvement.

Leonard Wood said it best:

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What you do is look at what's slowing you down and what areas you can speed up in.

Another great example: UPS drivers are trained to keep track of their keys a very specific way. Any time they exit the driver's seat, they hang their vehicle's keys from their pinky finger. This reduces the amount of time that drivers spend fumbling and patting their pockets because they forgot where their keys were.

This might only save a few seconds per driver per day, but that adds up. In 2014, saving one minute per driver per day added up to $14.5 million in reduced costs for UPS.

It's really that simple - examine what's slowing you down, and speed it up!

So, back to my question - how much are mouse clicks and keystrokes costing you? On any given day, the cost is almost too small to measure, but over weeks, months, and years, it all adds up, and the cost multiplies when you're dealing with very similar issues day after day. If your IT team spends time and clicks re-solving the same problems, they're losing opportunities to contribute to actual growth and the bottom line.

With that in mind, at ExtraHop we've been obsessed with helping customers drive new levels of efficiency into their business within their daily workflow. We do this by providing real-time access to the most complete source of data, the network, and putting this data into context as quickly as possible by providing a workflow which takes you from high level metrics down to users, devices, or even packets within a few clicks.

Just like the Wood brothers revolutionized the pitstop in racing, ExtraHop is revolutionizing how IT professionals gain access to the insights they need to deliver the best outcomes for their customers and users.

To learn more about how the ExtraHop workflow helps you find anything you need in your system in five clicks or less, watch this short video:

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Investigate a live attack in the full product demo of ExtraHop Reveal(x), network detection and response, to see how it accelerates workflows.

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