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The future of experience-driven applications

(Image credit: Image Credit: TeroVesalainen / Pixabay)

The Covid-19 pandemic is creating never-seen before scenarios and challenges for technologists. Companies across the globe from all industries are turning to digital like never before to deliver critical information and services at a larger scale.

In normal circumstances, today’s consumers have high demands from the companies they interact with. The expectations for world-class digital services require organisations to deliver high-performance, scalable and always-on services and applications. It can be frustrating for consumers when digital services don’t work smoothly, in turn creating risks for businesses in terms of loss of reputation and customer churn

Right now, the needs of consumers are arguably intensified, with consumers having to rely even more heavily on digital alternatives and services to access critical information, services and products. For technologists, managing that demand and keeping digital services and applications up and running is mission critical.

For IT teams, understanding their applications is key to keeping digital services running smoothly. They are the backbone of any organisation, and the ability to conduct digital business is critical. In the current climate, when a digital interaction is the only kind consumers can access, brands need to make their digital performance a top priority. The application connects the dots and is the gateway to understanding your entire business. Today, more than ever, the application is the digital customer experience.

Meeting these rising consumer demands has led the technology stack to become increasingly complex, making the delivery of consistently seamless consumer experiences through applications the new challenge. But how can technologists achieve this when they lack visibility into their applications and user journeys?

IT stack complexity

As enterprises build out new digital offerings and quickly transform their infrastructure, new technologies and applications are introduced. Containerisation, the rise of cloud, edge computing, and IoT have created more dependencies across the stack than ever before — and the momentum shows no sign of stopping. This creates even more complexity, and it becomes more difficult and more time-consuming to troubleshoot issues. For many enterprise organisations, applications no longer just support the business, they are the business. This means that IT teams are closer to their customers than ever before.

Consumer demands impact IT

Today, digital experiences are how consumers engage with the world and, in many cases, how customers engage with brands. Appetite for digital services is soaring as people use an increasing number of applications every day. Brands need to deliver tailored, intuitive customer experiences across all digital channels, at all times. According to the App Attention Index, half of all consumers would pay more for products and services that deliver a better digital experience. To beat the vast competition and differentiate, applications need to deliver a strong digital experience. And that’s true now more than ever.

How to build better CX

To deliver exceptional digital experience, technologists need a holistic overview of their applications. Demand from consumers has meant that IT teams have been asked to manage application complexity whilst also navigating operational silos that make collaboration, data exchange and problem resolution challenging. To get ahead, and deliver against high expectations, you need to understand how your customers are interacting with your applications in real-time. If technologists can visualise this customer journey, they can then identify opportunities for optimisation as well, so that it’s possible to deliver the high-quality experience that’s being demanded. Tools like Experience Journey Map provide a visual map of the UX across the entire web or mobile application. Teams can uncover hidden bottlenecks and enable businesses to proactively manage the digital journey and consistently deliver the highest-performing user experience.

A visual map shows the most common customer journeys and it’s easy to see where any issues are and flag problems that arise, such as a marked drop-off in users. It provides IT teams with the unique advantage of visual customer journeys, so they can identify problems and prioritise resources. This visibility supports application owners, IT operations, and developers alike.

This performance-lens view allows technologists to see the bigger picture, gaining a better understanding of how customers interact with their applications, and how performance impacts these interactions. This vital, shared context breaks down silos: application and infrastructure teams can clearly identify respective action items and move swiftly to resolve the right issues, at exactly the right time.

A new focus for digital transformation

Today’s technologists are finding themselves in a very unique situation. And this situation is changing daily, if not hourly. With new pressures and increasing demand coming from all sides of the business, technologists have to adapt quickly and think on their feet. It’s never been more important to have a solid business transformation strategy in place than now.

With ‘business as usual’ turned upside down, entire organisations and indeed customers, are now working from home. These unprecedented times and circumstances mean technologists need to deliver new information and services to customers and users like never before. That means more iterations, more deployments and constant information sharing both internally and externally. The businesses that succeed will be those that are able to transform and innovate to deliver those services, quickly.

Businesses need to have full-stack visibility across their IT infrastructure. ITOps team can then have comprehensive, full-stack visibility across their network, data centre, security and applications, which drives IT transformation that improves digital experiences for the end customer.

It’s evident that the risk of stagnating in the face of IT complexity is more costly, especially when the demand is so urgent and pressing. Businesses, therefore, must enable IT to move quickly to deliver the best digital experience possible, and preserve their competitive advantage while also delighting customers in the process. Application loyalty is the new brand loyalty, and the current situation is accelerating the move towards ‘digital-everything’. More than ever IT becomes a strategic driver of business outcomes and a key player in delivering world-class customer experiences at scale. This explosion of application complexity requires a proactive approach to performance monitoring that extends across public, private, and hybrid environments.

James Harvey, EMEA CTO, Cisco AppDynamics

James Harvey is the EMEA CTO at Cisco AppDynamics, working with clients to convert performance insights into business outcomes. He is also responsible for setting AppDynamics’ regional product strategy. Before joining Cisco AppDynamics he held various positions in IT leadership at New Look, BP, Royal Bank of Scotland and ABN AMRO Bank.