The pandemic has hastened the pace of digital change in Australian firms. Over the last 18 months, organisations throughout the country have acted quickly to digitise business processes and bring their operations online.
This push toward online commerce is a necessary and thoughtful reaction to the shifting requirements of consumers, employees, and suppliers during the epidemic. Still, it also has far-reaching ramifications and advantages. Consumers have become frustrated with friction and hassle and have learned to demand frictionless online service.
Simultaneously, the rush to digitise and go online has revealed critical difficulties that these organisations must solve to get the most significant advantage from their investment in new technology – anything from protecting against cyber threats to avoiding technical debt.
Increasing digital investment
The business community has been quick to understand the importance of joining the digital revolution. Most concede that digital technologies are fundamental to today’s business landscape and in the future.
The implications of the digital revolution are being felt across all industries. As a result, businesses across Australia are investing in enabling technologies that will make them digital-ready.
In the last two years, the proportion of organisations that have increased digital investment has grown from 64% to 75%.
Shifting customer needs
One of the most significant impacts of the pandemic has been on how customers interact with businesses – and this is a trend with significant implications for Australian businesses.
Whereas customers used to make purchases based on the convenience of physical stores, customers now demand a seamless digital experience.
In the digital era, businesses cannot afford to look digital when they are still operating in the pre-digital era. Future success will be more about ‘being digital’ than ‘looking digital’.
This has important implications for Australian businesses. With 75% of customers saying they will abandon an online purchase for a competitor if the website does not load properly, organisations need to ensure that their websites are fast, responsive and secure.
In addition, customers are using digital engagement technologies to ask questions, seek advice and provide feedback. This means businesses need to be able to connect in real-time with customers, prospects and other stakeholders.
Understanding the digital consumer
When businesses invest in digitising their business processes and online presence, one of the most significant challenges they face is understanding their customers.
For most Australian businesses (67%), understanding customers is their biggest digital challenge. Ensuring customers are able to find relevant information about the business, providing relevant content and ensuring the customer is at the centre of the business’ digital strategy are all priorities for Australian businesses.
Understanding the customer is critical in a digital world where the line between business-to-business and business-to-consumer interactions is blurred, and where customers have increasing power in the business-to-customer interaction.
What does the future hold?
The implications of the pandemic aren’t confined to the present, but have a significant bearing on how businesses will operate in the future.
One of the most significant changes is the shift from the customer-centred focus of businesses to a customer-centric focus. The way customers want to be engaged has changed permanently, and businesses need to be responsive to that.
In addition, businesses need to shift from focusing on efficiency to focusing on effectiveness. This will require a high degree of collaboration across departments and open and transparent communication across the business – both within the organisation and with customers.
Finally, businesses need to adapt their operating models and acquire new skills to operate in a fast-paced agile environment – where speed to market is a competitive advantage. The prevailing competitive advantage in the future will be less about being the first mover, and more about out-executing traditional rivals by being the fastest.
The pandemic is changing the way businesses operate – from how they conduct business and trade to how they engage with their customers.
While organisations have shifted their focus to digital business, many continue to address the digital transformation of their business in an incremental and ad-hoc manner. For businesses to be successful in the digital world, they need to ensure that digital is at the heart of their business – understanding their customers, transforming their business processes and investing in the required technologies to make their business digital-ready.
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