Analysing The ‘Application Generation’: 6 Things Every Application Owner Needs to Know

Key Insights for all Application Owners by Gregg Ostrowski, CTO Advisor at Cisco Observability.

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As applications have become a primary and preferred channel for consumers to interact with brands, a new generation has come of age — young people who are more discerning about applications and who use digital services in increasingly sophisticated ways.

The latest research from Cisco, The App Attention Index 2023: Beware the Application Generation, which surveyed over 15,000 consumers in 13 countries, including 1,005 in the UAE, has shone a spotlight on the emerging ‘Application Generation’. This cohort of consumers aged 18 to 34 demands only the very best digital experiences and are determined to punish brands that fall short of their expectations. With so much at stake, here are six things application owners need to know about the emerging Application Generation:


  1. Applications and digital services are a central part of their lives

Across all age demographics, the use of applications and digital services remains above pre-pandemic levels. Having grown used to the convenience of digital services through the pandemic, people of all ages continue to rely on digital tools to do everything from ordering groceries and streaming entertainment to working from home and even accessing public services. However, the Application Generation is more deeply immersed in the digital world than any other age range. On average, 18 to 34-year-olds use no less than 41 applications every month, compared to 30 for people older than 35.


  1. They are deeply affected by bad digital experiences

Since the Application Generation is more reliant on digital services than any other age group, it stands to reason that they tend to react more extremely when they encounter an issue. This goes beyond mere frustration over something not working — more than half (53%) of this cohort claims that a bad digital experience has affected their wellbeing on at least one occasion in the last year. They have zero tolerance for poor digital experiences, with 55% stating that performance issues with applications make them feel the brand has no respect for their time.


  1. Their preference is quality over quantity

On the face of it, the Application Generation increased utilisation and dependency on digital applications should bode well for brands. But far from guaranteeing usage, this has made this demographic far more discerning. So, while younger consumers use a greater number of applications than the general population, they do not use digital services indiscriminately. The Application Generation prefers quality, and they are determined to only use the most seamless and secure applications, constantly evaluating the relevance and value of digital services. They want every digital experience to enrich their lives in clear and compelling ways.


  1. They have sky-high expectations of digital experiences

Because they have grown up using technology, the Application Generation is knowledgeable and sophisticated in their use of digital services. In recent years, they’ve relied on applications to navigate through the pandemic — for their education, to embark on their careers, and to stay connected to friends — and now they’re using them with great skill to live, work and play in a hybrid world. They have seen the types of experiences that the most innovative companies in the world are offering, and they now expect this same standard every time they use a digital service. Their expectations for what digital experience should be will therefore continue to rise.


  1. They’re empowered to seek out alternatives

One of the most worrying findings for brands is that the Application Generation feels empowered to find alternatives when they encounter a poorly performing application. Where other generations may have felt locked in, or loyal, the Application Generation has no such qualms. On average, they’ve deleted seven applications in the last year due to a bad digital experience.

Interestingly, where these young consumers are tied to brands, such as banks and mobile phone companies, they’re still refusing to settle for poor digital experiences. They’re reverting to traditional, offline channels — whether that’s calling in to contact centres or visiting a branch or store. For organisations looking to control costs during the current economic climate, this potential shift away from applications and towards more costly customer channels represents a significant risk.


  1. They’re hungry for innovation

When experiences match up to expectations, the Application Generation prides itself on testing out the most innovative digital services available. That’s why 80% of these younger consumers feel positive about the prospect of using Super Apps — tools that combine multiple digital services into a single application. The Application Generation is constantly seeking out the most intuitive and personalised digital experiences, and two-thirds state they only want to use the very best applications and digital services from now on.


Meeting the needs of the Application Generation

These six truths about Application Generation should send a strong and clear message to application owners: they must ensure their applications and digital services perform optimally immediately. After all, any drop-off in performance could result in customers walking away en masse.

Doing so will first require giving IT teams the tools they need to deliver seamless and secure digital experiences. However, today, many of them struggle to manage increasingly complex and dispersed application environments. They lack full visibility into cloud-native environments and have no clear line of sight for applications where components run across hybrid environments.

If organisations hope to cater to the expectations of Application Generation, their application team needs to have application observability which can generate full and unified visibility across both cloud native and on-premises environments. The approach helps IT teams rapidly detect application availability, performance and security issues, understand root causes and implement resolutions before digital experience is impacted.

The Application Generation has arrived and the bar for digital experience has been raised forever. Application owners must be ready to meet this standard or else they will inevitably lose out.

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