For the last 18 months, people all over the world have relied on digital services to navigate the pandemic. With normal routines and behaviours suddenly put on hold during lockdown, people turned to applications for virtually everything. From buying groceries, and ordering food, to working and learning remotely, and accessing critical healthcare and public services.
Beyond these ‘essentials’, applications have also supported people’s emotional and physical wellbeing by connecting them with loved ones (through videoconferencing platforms and messaging tools), helping them keep up with fitness programs (with virtual exercise classes), and enjoy social interactions (through online quizzes, virtual happy hours and much more).
In a new AppDynamics report, 'The App Attention Index 2021: Who takes the rap for the app?', 95% of respondents from Singapore stated that digital services have positively impacted their lives during the pandemic, enabling them to get through this challenging period, to cope with the uncertainty, and function normally in most areas of their lives.
Consumers get a taste for the ‘total application experience’
Throughout the pandemic, people in Singapore have used more applications, to do more things. Overall usage is up a massive 30% compared with 2019. According to social media consultancy We Are Social’s 'Digital 2021' report, people in Singapore downloaded 240 million apps in 2020—mind boggling when you consider that the population is under 6 million.
This means consumers have increasingly interacted with the very best applications and enjoyed the most intuitive and personalised experiences. They’ve seen what leading brands have done to support customers during the pandemic and, unsurprisingly, they now expect this level of quality and service from all applications.
The App Attention Index 2021 reveals that consumers are now seeking the ‘total application experience’—a high-performing, reliable, digital service, which is simple, secure, helpful, and fun to use. And they want these applications to be personalised with their preferences and add real value to their lives.
Expectations soar and tolerance dissolves
With people now hugely reliant on applications and many having enjoyed incredible digital experiences over the past 18 months, expectations have risen dramatically.
Consumers now demand more from their applications across a wide range of performance and functionality areas, including reliability and security, and the personalisation of digital services.
Tellingly, when their experiences fall short of these heightened expectations, people are reacting more strongly than before. So much so that 67% of consumers in Singapore reported that their expectation of digital services has changed forever, and they won’t tolerate poor performance anymore.
For many people, it’s become personal. They feel disrespected by brands that don’t provide them with the level of digital experience they believe they should be receiving, and they’re unforgiving when it happens.
The research shows that people are far more likely to take decisive action when they encounter a sub-optimal digital experience than they were two years ago, immediately deleting the application or switching to a competitor without hesitation.
Brands get the blame, whatever the issue
Alarmingly for brands, consumers immediately blame the application when they encounter a problem, regardless of the cause.
Application owners have always been responsible for performance issues directly related to the application—whether that’s pages loading slowly, poor response times, downtime, or security failures. But now they’re also blamed for external factors outside the application—such as bad internet connectivity, 4G/5G mobile network issues, slow payment gateways or technical issues with third party plug-ins.
Consumers are making no exceptions—78% of people in Singapore believe the buck stops with the brand to ensure that the digital service or application works perfectly.
What’s more, there are no second chances for brands when it comes to delivering world-class digital experiences. The majority of people will give an application only one opportunity to impress them and if it doesn’t, then they’ll go elsewhere.
Full-stack observability with business context is essential to meet heightened expectations
For brands and application owners, the need to deliver faultless and frictionless digital experiences at all times, has reached new heights. They’re operating in an environment where even the most minor performance issue could mean they lose previously loyal customers forever.
As if this monumental level of pressure wasn’t enough, application owners—and in particular the technologists responsible for managing application performance—also have to deal with crippling complexity in the IT department, across an ever more sprawling IT estate. It’s a huge challenge but one that technologists must overcome so their organisations can succeed in a digital-first economy.
In order to do so, technologists urgently need real-time visibility into IT performance up and down the IT stack, from customer-facing applications right through to core infrastructure. This level of genuine, full-stack observability is vital for technologists to quickly identify and fix issues.
But even with full-stack observability in place, technologists still need a way to cut through the deluge of IT performance data coming at them from across their IT infrastructure to understand which issues matter most.
This is why it’s so important to have a business lens on IT performance, to pinpoint the issues that have the biggest impact on customers and the business, so that technologists can direct their time and skills in the right places. 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 the heightened expectations of today’s discerning consumers.
Gregg Ostrowski is regional CTO of AppDynamics