In response to a pandemic-induced surge in new digital consumers and online behaviours, Asia Pacific businesses are set to outstrip other global regions in customer experience investment in 2022, according to Adobe's latest report.
However, Adobes 2022 Digital Trends: APAC in Focus report found that APAC businesses recognise that critical skills and capability gaps may hold them back as they seek to maximise this world-leading commitment to serving digital-first consumers.
"The digital rewiring of consumer mindsets in Asia Pacific has been of high benefit to those businesses who have embraced an agile digital mindset, purposeful collaboration and sped up their time-to-value ratio," says Adobe Asia Pacific - Japan, vice president, Digital Experience Marketing, Duncan Egan.
"Companies that overcame organisational and technology silos to work cross-functionally were able to drive meaningful customer experiences that are personalised, real-time, relevant and connected across all channels."
Gaining visibility of new digital and mobile-first consumers
The report found that 77% of APAC businesses experienced a surge in new customers through digital channels over the past 18 months, and 76% saw new customer journeys. Although only 25% of companies believe they have significant insight into this new wave of digital-first customers.
Contributing to these new online behaviours is the 130 million new APAC mobile subscribers that became first-time internet users in 2021. These new mobile-first users in emerging APAC economies are leapfrogging consumers in more mature digital markets, rapidly adopting advanced digital behaviours such as mobile payment usage.
Adobe says in a bid to meet new customer expectations, the majority of APAC businesses are stepping up investment in customer experience 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, many with mobile-first preferences, has become the new competitive battleground for APAC businesses," says Adobe Asia Pacific and Japan, chief technology advisor, Scott Rigby.
"While many organisations are responding decisively by fast-tracking investment in improving the digital experience, spend alone is unlikely to set the leaders apart."
Building capability by overcoming legacy constraints
APAC's pursuit of global leadership in digital customer experience and ensuring a return on elevated investment relies on the skills and agility to deliver. Yet the report shows that, on average, APAC businesses lag their global counterparts in these crucial operational capabilities.
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 and poor integration between tech systems.
Now that remote and flexible working is commonplace, Forrester outlines that only 40% of business leaders intend to make remote work permanent, compared to 70% globally. Similarly, the Adobe report shows that only 1 in 4 leaders expect hybrid work to remain elevated, while just 19% plan to hire remote workers at levels higher than before the pandemic. Adobe says with a global constraint on the availability of digital talent, not embracing remote working will further constrict supply and 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 (8 or more out of 10).
"Given that 83% 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," says Rigby.
Some key data points for Australia and New Zealand:
- 81% of ANZ brands expect the pace of change to persist (vs 84% rest of APAC).
- 77% of ANZ saw new and changing journeys vs 70%.
- 87% of ANZ customers said their CX either lagged customer expectations or kept pace (34%/53%) vs 13% that thought they were ahead.
- We finally see maturity in ANZ customers, with their top marketing goals for 2022 being customer retention 52%, vs acquisition at 47%.
- 77% of ANZ execs are concerned their employees don't have the right skills to deliver effective digital experiences.
- Poor integration between tech systems is holding marketing/CX back, with 48% of ANZ businesses saying this is a priority, followed closely by workflow issues at 40%.
- Adding to this, the simplification and standardisation of the tech stack (33%) is a focus.
- ANZ is leapfrogging the rest of APAC in its appetite to use cloud-based tech for CX - data management (56% vs 37% in Asia).