Brands must beware as growing numbers of consumers look to manage ‘application clutter’

By Gregg Ostrowski, CTO Advisor, Cisco Observability

Whether it’s food delivery, messaging platforms, entertainment streaming or grocery shopping, consumers across the world continue to use applications and digital services across every aspect of their lives. They value the ease and convenience applications bring, and they recognize the way many digital services are becoming more intuitive and personalised.

But over the past two years, there has been a sizable change in people’s attitudes towards applications; their focus has shifted away from quantity to quality. Consumers have increasingly been exposed to the very best digital experiences being provided by the world’s most innovative companies and, as a result, they’ve become far more sophisticated and discerning in their use of applications and digital services.

In the latest research from Cisco, The App Attention Index 2023: Beware the Application Generation, 62% of consumers state their expectations for digital experiences are far higher now than they were two years ago, and 53% report that some of the applications they relied on during the pandemic no longer meet their expectations for digital experience. Consumers all over the world are looking to control ‘application clutter’ and they’re actively taking steps to ensure they’re only using the very best applications and digital services.

This shift in consumer behavior could bring trouble for organisations in all industries. People are abandoning brands whose digital services fail to meet their heightened expectations for digital experience. They’re deleting applications and sharing their negative experiences with no hesitation. And the pressure is mounting on application owners to respond.

Consumers are ridding themselves of application clutter as expectations for digital experiences soar

The research exposes two key trends for consumers across the world. Firstly, people are realising applications that were useful to them during the pandemic are no longer relevant to their lives. They’re finding and deleting forgotten applications on their devices, and 68% of consumers report they are eager to get rid of application clutter (applications that they don’t use enough or value anymore). In fact, on average, people believe they could probably live without 40% of their downloaded applications.

Secondly, consumers are becoming more mindful about their use of applications. They’re being more rigorous about the time they spend using applications and digital services to protect their well-being. People still want the many advantages applications bring them in terms of accessibility, convenience, and enjoyment, but they never want to waste time. Consumers are looking to limit the number of digital services they are using, and 79% claim they’re now giving more thought to the applications that they install on their devices.

At a broader level, people are feeling more in control of their use of digital services and more empowered to turn their backs on applications that don’t perform as they should. Consumers have become far less forgiving of poor digital services over the past two years, and they now consider brands whose applications fail to meet their expectations as disrespectful.

As many as 77% of consumers 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 after a poor digital experience. Reactions to bad digital experiences are intensifying and consumers are increasingly looking to punish brands whose applications let them down.

Application observability is critical for brands to deliver seamless and secure digital experiences
The reality for application owners today is that consumers won’t tolerate anything other than the most outstanding, seamless, and secure digital experiences. Worryingly though, as many as 88% of consumers report they have experienced performance issues when using applications over the past 12 months, and this figure has risen from 83% in 2021.

Consumer expectations for digital experience are soaring while, at the same time, instances of digital disruption are increasing. Application owners urgently need to get to grips with this challenge. Otherwise, it could soon be their digital services and applications that are being deleted.

However, the task of managing application availability, performance, and security is becoming ever more difficult as IT teams find themselves looking after increasingly complex and fragmented application estates. Most teams don’t have full visibility into cloud-native technologies and no clear line of sight for applications whose components are running across hybrid environments. This makes it incredibly difficult to identify and resolve issues before end-user experience is impacted.

This is why application observability is now so important, to generate full and unified visibility across both cloud native and on-premises environments. It enables IT teams to rapidly detect issues and understand root causes. And where application performance and security data are correlated with key business metrics, they can easily identify and prioritise those issues that pose the biggest threat to digital experience before the user notices.

Brands need to understand that the standard for digital experience has risen massively over the last two years. Applications and digital services that were embraced by consumers during the pandemic are now being shunned. Consumers are priding themselves on the quality of the applications they use and it’s down to application owners to ensure they succeed.

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