Features, Opinion, Retail, Technology

Opinion: Brands must respond to meet heightened customer expectations

James Harvey, CTO Advisor EMEA at Cisco Observability, discusses how brands need to understand that consumers’ expectations of the total application experience have increased over the past two years.

Consumers now use applications and digital services across almost every part of their lives. Whether shopping, connecting with friends or enjoying entertainment, people’s first port of call is generally an application. The ease, speed and convenience of digital services mean they have found a permanent and cherished place in the lives of billions of people worldwide.

However, in the two years since the pandemic sparked a dramatic spike in the adoption of applications and digital services, there has been a significant swing in people’s attitudes. Focus has shifted from quantity to quality when it comes to application use. As consumers across the Emirates, and the globe for that matter, have increasingly been exposed to the exceptional digital experiences being provided by the world’s most innovative companies, their expectations have soared. They’ve become far more sophisticated in their use of applications and incredibly discerning about the digital services they use.

Latest research from Cisco, The App Attention Index 2023: Beware the Application Generation, 71% of UAE consumers state their expectations for digital experiences are far higher now than they were two years ago. And 74% claim they now only want to use the very best applications and digital services, and expect an exceptional digital experience as standard.

The evolution of the “total application experience”

Regional consumer demand for a total application experience is not a new phenomenon. The App Attention Index 2021 found consumers were ultimately looking for digital services that were reliable, simple, secure, and convenient. But two years on, consumer opinions on what makes the total application experience have moved on. People are searching for a broader range of qualities and features that combine to create a seamless digital experience that stands out from the competition.

Of course, people still want the ‘basics’ to be done well. Reliability, security, speed and ease of use are viewed as the foundations. But global consumers are now looking for much more — they want digital experiences to be intuitive (42%), meaningful (37%) and personalized to their needs and preferences (34%).

Failing to meet consumers’ expectations can have severe consequences

This shift in consumer attitudes has profound implications for organizations in all industries. People are rejecting brands whose digital services fall below the grade. They’re actively looking to limit the number of digital services they are using, and 79% of consumers claim they’re now giving more thought to the applications they install on their devices.

Overall, a staggering 80% of consumers in the UAE have stopped using or deleted applications from their devices as a result of performance issues over the last 12 months and, on average, people have deleted more than five applications. Reactions to bad digital experiences are strengthening and consumers are making it their mission to punish brands who fail to deliver the total application experience they demand.

Application observability is the foundation for brands to deliver the total application experience

Alarmingly, given their complete lack of tolerance for bad digital experiences, almost all (97%) of UAE consumers report they have experienced performance issues when using applications over the past 12 months. At the very moment consumer expectations for applications are soaring, so too are instances of poor digital experiences. Application owners must tackle this challenge head on, or it could soon be their digital services and applications that are being jettisoned.

Of course, managing application availability, performance and security is becoming more difficult. Rapid adoption of cloud native technologies has left organizations with an increasingly complex and fragmented application landscape. IT teams often don’t have visibility into cloud native technologies and no clear line of sight for applications whose components are running across hybrid environments. Due to this, it is incredibly difficult for them to identify and resolve issues before end user experience is negatively affected.

Application observability is essential because it generates full and unified visibility across both cloud native and on-premises environments. This enables IT teams to rapidly detect issues and understand their root causes. What’s more, application data can be correlated with business metrics, allowing IT teams to identify and prioritize those issues which pose the biggest threat to digital experience.

Brands need to understand that consumers’ expectations of the total application experience have increased over the past two years, and more than ever they are putting a premium on quality over quantity. The bar for digital experience has been raised and application owners must urgently respond.

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