Brands must focus on digital experience to spread festive cheer this holiday season

December 05 2023

Survey results reveal the critical role of applications and digital services during the most wonderful time of the year.

Research published today by Cisco reveals that consumers around the world will be using more applications and digital services over the holiday season than ever before. But seasonal goodwill will quickly turn to festive fury if applications don’t perform as they should. And some people claim they will turn into the Grinch!

Sixty-three percent of people now believe that applications and digital services are important for enjoying the holidays. But significantly, nearly half of all consumers (45%) are concerned that if a digital service doesn’t perform, it will ruin their seasonal celebrations.

The pressure is on application owners in all sectors to ensure that their applications are operating at peak performance during the holidays; people will have zero tolerance for any brand that delivers a bad digital experience and dampens their festive spirit. Indeed, 50% of all consumers say that even though it’s the holiday season, they won’t be able to forgive an application that lets them down over the festive period.

As brands look to take advantage of record demand for applications over the holidays, the findings provide a stark reminder about the importance of application availability, performance and security. A single slip-up in digital experience and brands will immediately find their application on the naughty list!

Applications will play a central role in holiday festivities

The research uncovers the breadth of different digital services that people will be using over the holiday season. Whether it’s streaming movies and music, connecting with friends and family, keeping up to date with news or managing finances, consumers will be relying on a huge number of applications as they celebrate.

However, with so many holiday plans reliant on digital services, the potential consequences of applications not performing properly are profound. More than half of consumers (53%) admit that they are worried that if a digital service doesn’t work as it should, it will have negative implications for their family holidays.

Of course, it’s normal for people to feel a bit anxious ahead of holiday celebrations, wanting everything to go smoothly, but that level of worry has gone up a notch — people are becoming increasingly concerned that a bad digital experience could spoil the holidays.

In particular, consumers point to a number of scenarios that would affect their holiday season mood. 55% are worried about a banking application not working so that they can’t make an important payment, while 50% are concerned about a messaging platform failing so they can’t share festive greetings with friends and family. Forty-one percent of people are anxious about the possibility of a retail application going down so that they can’t buy a last-minute gift or order some last-minute ingredients for their holiday cooking.

Forget travel delays, family feuds and uncooked turkeys; a bad digital experience is now the biggest potential holiday nightmare!

No goodwill to brands whose applications fail this holiday season

People’s reactions to any poorly performing application will be far from festive! Instead of experiencing the joys of the holiday season, people will find themselves getting stressed and anxious and venting about their problems to other people. Many consumers admit that a bad digital experience could threaten household harmony, while 26% fear that they will become so angry that they’ll start behaving like the Grinch!

But consumers will mainly direct their festive fury toward offending applications and the brands behind them. Whether it’s slow-loading pages, payment issues or downtime, people will vote with their thumbs, immediately deleting any poorly performing application and switching to an alternative.

Application observability is essential for brands to take advantage of heightened demand and spread festive cheer

The stakes have been raised for application owners over the holiday season. On the one hand, they have a huge opportunity to capitalize on the unprecedented demand for digital services. Those that can deliver innovative, intuitive, secure and seamless digital experiences will be positioned to attract new customers and drive sales.

On the other hand, brands whose applications fail people at this time of year risk losing customers, revenue and reputation.

For IT teams, there is now massive pressure to optimize digital experience over the festive period. But this is also a time when technologists should be able to relax and enjoy a well-earned rest without the constant worry that an application performance or security issue is going to blow up and interfere with their family celebrations.

This is why it’s so important for organizations to implement application observability, providing IT teams with full visibility across their application landscapes across both cloud native and on-premises environments. With application observability, technologists can rapidly detect, understand and resolve issues. By correlating application availability, performance and security data with key business metrics, they can prioritize the issues that pose the biggest risk to end-user experience.

Application observability can ease the pressure on IT teams, flagging issues before they escalate into something serious and giving technologists peace of mind and confidence that they won’t be facing a nightmare holiday scenario!

Digital services are now a central part of the holidays for billions of consumers across the world, but brands can’t afford for their application to be the one that turns the most wonderful time of the year into one of stress and frustration. Application observability is essential to deliver exceptional digital experiences that will drive sales and spread festive cheer.


James Harvey is CTO Advisor EMEA, Cisco Observability. He is responsible for setting the AppDynamics regional product strategy. His overarching role is to advise and help organizations better understand their business needs and realize the value and benefits of full-stack observability with business context. He joined AppDynamics in 2018.

James has more than 20 years of experience in the tech field, having held senior IT leadership positions at various companies in different sectors like banking (Royal Bank of Scotland and ABN AMRO Bank), retail (New Look) and oil (BP).

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