Globally and locally, consumers are becoming more knowledgeable and sophisticated in their use of applications and digital services. Across almost every aspect of their lives a number of applications are used, whether for work, connecting with friends and family, buying groceries, managing finances and accessing entertainment. In doing so, they’re being exposed to the very best, most intuitive and personalised digital experiences offered by some of the world’s most innovative brands.

Yet, recent research from Cisco, The App Attention Index 2023: Beware the Application Generation, shows the extent to which consumers have experienced performance issues and dissatisfaction with the quality of their application experience. What this research particularly highlights is that Australians are wanting more our of their digital services, including reliability, security and user experience, in the past year.

According to the study, which heard from over one thousands Australians, is that Aussie consumers are no longer willing to put up with substandard digital experiences, turning their back on brands whose applications are inadequate. The message for all application owners, even those who have dramatically improved their digital offerings, is clear: there is no room for complacency when it comes to digital experience; a single slip-up in application performance can have serious consequences.

Improvements in digital experience aren’t keeping pace with rising expectations

Just having an application is no longer good enough and greater access to applications means that consumers are asking more of them. Given that more than half of Australian consumers (58%) claim their expectations for digital experiences are far higher now than a year ago, brands need to do more to ensure they are providing the best experience possible. As we continue to use applications, we also see that consumers are less forgiving of poor digital services, with 63% stating they are less forgiving now than in years previous.

It is critical that brands get their applications to the standard expected by consumers or they will look elsewhere. Digital experiences that were previously considered to be “good enough” are now falling way below the desired grade, with 63% of Australian consumers reporting they only want to use the best applications and that these good experiences are parameters for what they expect from other applications.

Performance issues are leading to application user losses

If you have a car that breaks down regularly, you wouldn’t keep it for long and the same can be said about applications. It’s alarming to reveal 86% of Australians report they have experienced performance issues when using applications in the past year, and more than half (54%) have deleted more applications than they have installed in the same time frame.

To make matters worse for application owners, according to the global report, people are now more prevalent to share their negative experiences, with 67% of consumers claiming they are more likely to warn people of applications that don’t perform, than they were in the past year. This is why it’s extremely important to ensure applications are running smoothly.

Brands need to deliver the total application experience at all times or customers will without hesistation delete these suboptimal applications. Even those brands whose applications are delivering exceptional digital experiences need to understand that any drop off from this level will quickly undo all of the goodwill they have built up. They’ll suffer a loss of customers, revenue and reputation, just like any other brand.

Prioritising digital experience to drive competitive advantage

Application owners need to ensure their IT teams have the tools and insights required to deliver seamless and secure digital experiences. The reality is, within many IT departments, technologists are finding it increasingly difficult to manage application availability, performance and security. They don’t have visibility into Kubernetes environments, or a clear line of sight for applications where components are deployed across on-premises and cloud native technologies. The result is constant firefighting, trying to identify, understand and fix issues before they impact end user experience.

It’s vital for organisations to implement application observability, to generate full and unified visibility across hybrid environments, and to enable IT teams to rapidly detect issues and understand dependencies. What’s more, by correlating application performance and security data with key business metrics, IT teams can identify and prioritise issues which could most severely impact customers.

Many brands have come a long way in improving application design and user experience over the last two years. Consumers have recognised this and now they’re hungry for more. Even the most innovative and forward-thinking application owners can’t afford to rest. The bar for digital experience is only going to get higher.

Gregg Ostrowski is chief technology officer advisor at Cisco App Dynamics.