Surge in digital customers expected to excel CX investment in APAC

DUE to a surge in new digital customers as an effect of the pandemic, businesses in Asia Pacific (APAC) are set to outstrip other global regions in terms of customer experience (CX) investments this year.

According to Adobe vice president of digital experience marketing in APAC & Japan Duncan Egan, the digital rewiring of consumer mindsets in this particular region has been highly benefitting businesses that have embraced an agile digital mindset, thus speeding up its time-to-value ratio.

“Companies that overcame organizational and technology silos to work cross-functionally, were able to drive meaningful customer experiences that are personalized, real-time, relevant and connected across all channels,” he commented.

In Adobe’s new ‘2022 Digital Trends: APAC in Focus’ report, 77% of APAC businesses experienced a surge in new customers through digital channels over the past 18 months, and 77% saw new customer journeys. Meanwhile, only 25% of businesses believe they have significant insight into this new wave of digital-first customers.

In Malaysia alone, 36% of all digital service consumers are new to the service due to COVID-19, pointing towards faster digital transformation in the coming years. These new mobile-first users are ‘leapfrogging’ consumers in more mature digital markets, rapidly adopting advanced digital behaviors such as mobile payments usage.

In a bid to meet new customer expectations, the majority of APAC businesses are stepping up investment in CX management (59%), edging ahead of North America (57%) and Europe (53%). Most APAC businesses also expect to accelerate investment in customer data technology (60%).

“Understanding and serving a new breed of online consumers has become the new competitive battleground for APAC businesses.

“While many organisations are responding decisively by fast-tracking investment in improving the digital experience, spend alone is unlikely to set the leaders apart,” stated Adobe chief technology advisor for APAC & Japan Scott Rigby.

Despite this, APAC businesses are still able to recognise that critical skills and capability gaps may hold them back as they seek to maximise the commitment to serving digital-first consumers.

Overcoming legacy constraints

According to the report, 83% of APAC businesses leaders are worried that their organisation doesn’t have the necessary skills they need, compared to 79% in Europe and 73% in North America. In addition, digital skills rank as the joint top barrier to digital experience delivery together with poor integration between tech systems.

The report also shows that the majority (55%) of APAC leaders expect hybrid work to return to pre-pandemic levels or lower, while just 36% plan to hire remote workers at levels higher than before the pandemic.

With a global constraint on the availability of digital talent, not embracing remote working is going to further constrict supply and further delay businesses digital transformation goals.

While 92% of APAC leaders ‘agree’ that their ability to be agile will decide their success as a marketing organisation, just 25% of practitioners rate their organisation’s agility in responding to opportunities and disruptions as positive.

“Given that 84% of APAC organisations expect the rate of technological and social change to continue at the same or higher levels, developing the skills, agility and innovation required to keep pace should remain a top strategic priority,” said Rigby.

Pros and cons of digital maturity

The closer examination of businesses in Australia and New Zealand, Asia and India, shows unique opportunities and challenges.

For the comparably more digitally advanced Australian and New Zealand markets, simplifying their technology stack is a priority for one in three businesses, far more than in Asia (13%) and India (24%).

Poor integration between systems is also ranked as the top factor holding back marketing organisations in Australia and New Zealand, illustrating the potential drawbacks of longstanding digital legacies.

However, businesses based in India are more likely to be seeing new digital customer behaviors as new internet users emerge. They have a greater focus on artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver experiences than others in APAC, and more practitioners in India consider their innovation capabilities and collaboration with technology teams to be strong.

Asian businesses rate a lack of skills as their top barrier and are prioritizing development as a result.

Compared with practitioners from Australia and New Zealand and India, substantially more Asian respondents see room for improvement in innovation capabilities and gaining customer insights. – March 12, 2022

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