Transformation is all or nothing

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With the impending arrival of Amazon, creating memorable customer experiences needs to be a priority for all Australian businesses. As digital technology continues to disrupt, businesses are no longer dictating their relationship with customers. Instead, the customer is in complete control. As consumers, we love this, but as businesses we are constantly racing to keep up.

Just when we think we’ve figured out our strategies, new experiences and technologies emerge, creating more competition across industries than ever before. This competition creates a mandate for every company to transform itself. A brand hoping to survive and prosper must transform into an “experience business,” where delivering amazing customer experiences is the top-line business goal.

Being an experience business means companies need to be more than just suppliers of products. They need to be creators of memorable experiences. We are officially riding the experience business wave and it represents the single biggest disruption we have seen in enterprise in decades. It is the new battleground where we will all compete for the foreseeable future. From the CEO to the newest employee, we are all stewards in the experience.

This year, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is only expected to grow by about 3.5 per cent. Therefore, in order to grow, most brands will need to start attracting customers away from competitors. If you and your organisation haven’t taken the necessary steps, you are already falling behind the competition.

To become a successful experience-led business means implementing a combination of context, the right experiences in real-time, and technology integration that drives innovation. Forrester predicts that insights-driven businesses such as Amazon, will collectively generate US$1.2 trillion (AU$1.6 trillion) by 2020. That’s up from a collective US$333 billion (AU$442 billion) in 2015. It does not matter how big or small a business is, nor what sector it operates in, the premise for the journey to becoming a digital-led brand is the same. By understanding the customer at a deeper, insights-based level, businesses are better prepared to deliver well-designed, consistent and personal experiences at every touchpoint in the customer journey.

Context is at the heart of the customer experience. It is what we do intuitively as humans. In any given situation, we as humans don’t change, but the context can be dramatically different. Technology helps deliver context at scale, and evolving a data strategy to a context strategy is critical. However, while context will provide the cues, it is no use if an organisation can’t back it up with the right experience for their customers. To be competitive in this digital age businesses must design compelling experiences engineered for speed and scale. This may mean rethinking a content supply chain — starting with a beautiful design which can then be scaled through automation and delivered to millions of individuals online.

Managing these personalised experiences seamlessly seems simple to the consumer, but from the view of the enterprise, it is very difficult. This is especially true when bound to legacy systems that were never intended to scale in real-time. Innovation can provide the answer to this, with technology acting as the catalyst. By breaking down the walls between teams and integrating data, content and workflows, technology unlocks innovation.

Organisations that have not taken the initial steps to becoming experience business, with a holistic view of their customer, will continue to fall behind their competitors. This was inevitable from the moment early digital disruption began. If Australian businesses have any intention of competing with Amazon and other major competitors, now is the time to transform.

Paul Robson is Adobe’s President for Asia Pacific.

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