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Digital Transformation Through an Asia-Pacific Lens

Manish Bahl, Senior Director of Centre for the Future of Work, Cognizant | Dec. 21, 2015
Digital is the key to addressing the wants and needs of current and future online consumers, who will represent half of Asia's population by 2020, up from one-third today.

Here are the key insights on what shapes the digital transformation mandate for leaders:

·         Customers' digital expectations are higher than before: With Asia Pacific accounting for 48.4% of the 2.9 billion Internet users globally, according to the Internet Users by Region published by the Internet Live Stats, the majority of customers are increasingly digitally-enabled. They demand new types of engagement and want service in their moments of need. Any disruption in the digital customer experience is not acceptable. Better response to customers' digital demands ultimately drives economic benefits.

·         Competition is moving from "eat someone's lunch" to "eat everyone's lunch": In a digitally level world, competition is increasingly transcending industry borders, leaving few competitive boundaries. There are rivals at every turn, from disruptive start-ups to existing partners or suppliers bypassing the traditional value chain and serving customers directly.

·         Before data is an asset, it is a liabilityToo much data and not enough insight is creating a digital overload for many companies. To stay ahead of the curve, companies need to embrace the reality that customer engagement is increasingly based on consumers' digital fingerprints on every professional and personal transaction and interaction, also known as Code Halos.

·         The battle for next-generation talent is heating up: To transition to the new digital economy, companies need to find, recruit and retain the hybrid skill sets that are at the core of out-performing competitors. By providing inter-company training and retraining, along with recruiting digital skill sets from outside the industry, digital competencies are being shared across the business, rather than silo-ed, allowing for skills to be more easily and efficiently deployed. Also, companies must be willing to acquire digital start-ups for digital technology skills to fill the gap quickly.

A mission to win

As the digital transformation phenomenon intensifies, enterprises must invest heavily in digitizing their processes to proactively address radically different market conditions. A digital-first mentality will make or break their future success. Here are some areas companies need to focus on in order to drive profitability through digitalization:

·         Adopt a "digital-first" approach to simplifying the customer experience and driving growth: Redesign business processes to digital properties (such as new mobile or social platforms) to modernize service delivery structure. By digitizing customer-facing services and revamping the products and services portfolio, organizations can achieve consistent and seamless customer experience across channels to trigger a surge in customer retention, engagement and acquisition, while improving top lines.

·         Relentlessly focusing on reducing costs and improving efficiency: Apart from customer experience-focused processes, it is also vital to transform internal processes. Move beyond simple automation tasks such as implementing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems for efficiency gains.

·         "Digital thinking" must be injected into a company's core: A new and rising role for digital heads or Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) is instrumental in connecting all stakeholders, breaking down organization silos, changing the company's culture, setting up a digital office, realigning employee incentives, rewards and growth plans, and addressing the myriad challenges that companies face as digital transformation accelerates.

 

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