The pandemic has driven digitalizaton across industries, which has accelerated during the past 18 months. This is expected to continue in the post-pandemic environment. According to Joe Byrne, Vice President of Technology Strategy and Executive CTO at AppDynamics, “the majority of consumers will continue to rely on digital services even beyond COVID-19.”

In a TechNode Global Q&A, Byrne said that businesses will continue facing challenges in IT complexity, data noise, and additional responsibilities in managing customer expectations. Businesses will thus need full-stack observability in order to maintain visibility across their IT assets, which can include both cloud and on-premises assets. This will also be essential in filtering noise in order to achieve better business insights.

Byrne also cited findings from AppDynamics’ own App Attention Index 2021, which forecasts that the “appetite for digital alternatives will outlast the pandemic.”

What are the trends driving innovation in digital services today?

Joe Byrne, Vice President of Technology Strategy and Executive CTO at AppDynamics

Over the last 18 months, people all over the globe have depended on digital services like never before. In our recent App Attention Index 2021 report we highlighted that the number of applications people are using on a daily basis has jumped by a staggering 30 percent compared with two years ago. We were all forced to change our normal routines and habits whether in our professional or personal life and applications have undoubtedly helped to navigate through the pandemic and provided a lifeline to normality.

This trend is particularly relevant in ASEAN where the population is amongst the most engaged mobile internet users in the world, with the region’s digital economy expected to exceed gross market value of $240 billion by 2025.

Meeting this demand has been a huge challenge for brands and technologists. Getting real-time visibility across the entire IT environment is critical to maintaining operations and enabling innovation. 

The pandemic has driven demand for digital services, although there is reduced activity in certain sectors (e.g., travel and hospitality). How has this dynamic affected the way businesses connect and engage with their audiences?

As outlined above the pandemic has undoubtedly driven demand for applications and digital services over the last 18 months. But the App Attention Index showed that this is a long-term trend. The majority of consumers (73 percent globally) will continue to rely on digital services even beyond COVID-19.

Furthermore, as consumers become reliant on digital experiences, their expectations and standards have drastically changed. No longer as tolerant, they won’t settle for anything else but the very best. And for the brands who have gone above and beyond with the quality of their digital services during the pandemic, the rewards are clear – they enjoy stronger relationships with their customers. In countries like Singapore and India, almost 80 percent of them say they feel more loyal towards these companies.

However, while consumers readily express their appreciation and love for the brands that meet their exacting standards, those who fall short are promptly dropped without much thought. More unforgiving than before, consumers won’t give any second chance if the service they receive is sub-optimal. Fifty-seven percent of people say brands have ‘one shot to impress’ and that if their digital service does not perform, they won’t use them again.

57% of people say brands have ‘one shot to impress’ and that if their digital service does not perform, they won’t use them again.

Consumers are looking for the ‘total application experience’–a high-performing, reliable, digital service that is simple, secure, helpful, and fun to use. This is the new benchmark for all digital services.

What are the three key challenges that businesses face in light of these trends and developments?

1. Managing growing IT complexity

In order to keep up with innovation to deliver seamless and high-quality digital experiences, technologists are already under huge pressure to monitor, manage, and optimize performance of their entire IT stack. However, since organizations accelerated their digital transformation it led to a sprawling IT estate which added more complexity for them to keep up with. With more digital solutions than ever to keep track of, and IT infrastructure spread across platforms (be it on-prem or the cloud), it’s critical for businesses to keep their eye on each and every element to create and maintain the best digital services.

2. Filtering and distilling insights from ‘data noise’

This spiraling complexity has also led to a growing amount of data created across the IT stack. In our Agents of Transformation Report 2021, 75 percent of the technologists we surveyed shared that they were struggling to manage the overwhelming ‘data noise’, while another 85 percent highlighted they face intensifying challenges with cutting through the noise from ever-increasing volumes of data, hindering them from identifying the root causes of performance issues. The key question for businesses is then, how can they cut through that noise and understand what’s actually happening to their customers?

3. Shouldering more responsibility to meet rising customer expectations

Finally, as if the pressure wasn’t already high enough, businesses are now being held accountable for their digital services performances as a whole. Never mind that some issues can sit outside the applications, such as bad internet connectivity, mobile network issues or technical issues with third-party plug-ins, customers will immediately turn to blame the brand or application owner if they face difficulties in accessing or navigating the digital service or application.  As our survey showed, 72 percent of people believe it’s the responsibility of the brand to ensure that the digital service or application works perfectly.

How can brands champion application experiences and customer expectations with full-stack observability, and why is it important for them?

To meet these new heightened expectations of customers and ensure that digital experience is always at its best, tech teams should be equipped with the tools they need to maintain real visibility across all their IT assets. This means not only the on-premises infrastructure they own but also all the external cloud environments that they have adopted. Without full-stack observability, businesses face a myriad of challenges that range from difficulty in prioritizing IT fixes, to the loss of customers due to technical issues.

With a full-stack observability solution in place, tech teams will be empowered to monitor performance throughout the tech stack – from customer-facing platforms to backend networks, across every location. They can promptly identify and pinpoint issues, quickly resolving them before impacting their customers. In addition to monitoring performance, the ability to connect IT to business metrics will also help with prioritizing remediation efforts.

By contextualizing technology performance to real-time business data, organizations can make better decisions and focus their efforts on the areas that matter and have the biggest impacts on the customer.

By contextualizing technology performance to real-time business data, organizations can make better decisions and focus their efforts on the areas that matter and have the biggest impacts on the customer. For example, by understanding the potential loss in revenue that may result from slow app response time, businesses can get a clearer view on how to direct and allocate their resources accordingly–optimizing application performance at all times to meet customer expectations.

What are your strategies in terms of expansion in Southeast Asia and beyond?

Ensuring that more customers and partners have access to our full-stack observability solutions, we expanded our SaaS application management earlier this year by partnering with Amazon Web Services in Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Cape Town, and São Paulo. This follows our SaaS offering in India that was announced towards the end of 2020. With this expanded global reach–in addition to our existing facilities–we aim to provide an unmatched level of coverage in the industry. As businesses in the region continue to transform and progress on their digital transformation journeys, we are committed to supporting them with SaaS platforms that are designed to meet their needs.

For Anchanto’s Vaibhav Dabhade, digitalization requires a deep structural shift for companies getting into e-commerce [Q&A]

Image Copyright: alessandrobiascioli