For the past 18 months, we’ve relied on applications and digital services in almost every aspect of our lives – to stay connected with loved ones, access critical services, keep entertained and, of course, to work remotely. Applications have become a lifeline to normality for people all over the world during the pandemic. It’s almost impossible to imagine how we would have navigated it without them.
A recent AppDynamics report, The App Attention Index 2021: Who Takes the Rap for the App? revealed that the number of applications people are using has soared by 30 per cent when compared with two years ago.
Lockdowns have forced many people to explore applications and digital alternatives they might not have considered otherwise. In fact, 84 per cent of people report that digital services have had a positive impact on their lives during the pandemic, enabling them to get through this challenging period and to cope and function in most areas of their lives – both inside and outside of work.
A new landscape of digital alternatives
Even once the pandemic has finally passed, consumers won’t simply switch back to the habits they had in 2019 – in fact, 88 per cent of people expect their reliance on digital services to stay the same or increase over the next 12 months.
This is primarily because the pandemic has proved to people that in almost every part of their lives, there is now a convenient and effective digital alternative to the old ways of doing things. They had no choice but to rely on applications during the pandemic but, in doing so, people have actually come to recognise the benefits digital services can offer in their busy lives, whether that’s doing exercise classes at home, ordering the grocery shopping or accessing healthcare services through an online GP.
Consumers will continue to have this option of using applications. From now on, there will always be a genuine choice to make in how we do things, between the online and offline worlds. For many people, this will mean reconfiguring working habits, changing travel and commuting patterns, and rethinking how they communicate with colleagues, friends and family.
Our attitudes and behaviours towards digital services have changed forever, and these shifts will have significant consequences for the brands we interact with every day.
Opportunity and risk for application owners and brands
In this new environment of “digital alternatives”, brands have a massive opportunity to drive customer loyalty by providing consumers with the faultless and engaging digital experiences they have come to expect and rely on over the past 18 months.
Already, we’re seeing consumers looking favourably on brands that have innovated at speed to deliver applications that supported them through the pandemic and enabled them to access the services they love and rely on. More than two-thirds of consumers (67 per cent) say that some brands have gone above and beyond with the quality of their digital service during the pandemic, and it has positively impacted their loyalty to that company.
On the other hand, application owners need to consider the implications of delivering anything other than a seamless digital experience.
As consumers have become more sophisticated in their use of applications, and been exposed to the very best digital experiences, they’ve come to understand what digital services can and should be like in 2021. Expectations have risen dramatically and, at the same time, tolerance for poor digital experiences has diminished. Sixty-one per cent of people say their expectation of digital services has changed forever during the pandemic and that they won’t tolerate poor performance anymore.
One-shot for brands to deliver incredible digital experiences
When consumers encounter problems with an application – and it really doesn’t matter to them what the cause of the issue is – they now take it almost as a personal affront. Many feel that it is disrespectful for brands to be delivering poor digital experiences in the current environment.
People are no longer willing to make allowances or to give second chances. In fact, 57 per cent of people state that brands have only one shot to impress them and that if a digital service does not perform, they won’t use it again.
That’s the situation that application owners now face. Even the smallest slip-up in performance can lead to more than half of their customers walking away, quite possibly never returning.
Responding to soaring consumer expectations
As the pressure grows on application owners to deliver flawless digital experiences at all times, it’s essential that they have real-time visibility into IT performance. Technologists have recognised the need to monitor the full IT estate, from traditional legacy IT systems to newer hybrid cloud environments. This concept is known as full-stack observability – the ability to monitor the entire IT stack, from customer-facing applications down to core network and infrastructure, and it’s vital for technologists wanting to identify and fix performance issues before they adversely affect customers and the business.
But on its own, full-stack observability isn’t enough to tackle the layers of complexity now engulfing IT departments. Across an increasingly sprawling IT estate, with IT departments being overwhelmed by a constant deluge of data, technologists need a business lens on IT performance data to cut through the noise and pinpoint the data that really matters most.
They need to understand which issues could have the biggest impact on customers and the business so that they can best prioritise their actions. Full-stack observability with business context is critical to meet soaring consumer expectations. By connecting full-stack observability with real-time business metrics, technologists can optimise application performance at all times and ensure they’re able to meet heightened consumer expectations.
By doing this, application owners can set themselves up to exploit new opportunities in a world of digital alternatives and deliver incredible application experiences to customers.
By James Harvey, EMEAR CTO, Cisco AppDynamics