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Pandemic-Induced Surge in Digital Consumers Sees APAC Businesses Lead the World in Customer Experience Investment
March 2, 2022 News


Written by: Martin Dale Bolima, Tech Journalist, AOPG.

Many of today’s consumers have pivoted to digital, mostly due to convenience and, in part, because of necessity. This has birthed the digital consumer, who expects customer experience to be modern and digital-first. And, according to Adobe’s “The 2022 Digital Trends: APAC in Focus” report, businesses worldwide are responding accordingly, investing more so they can give the kind of modern-day customer experience that digital-first consumers are expecting. That is not much of a surprise; what might be surprising is that businesses in the Asia Pacific region are predicted to outdo their global counterparts in terms of customer experience investment in response to the rise of the digital consumer.

It is a good thing that Asia Pacific businesses are willing to invest in the modern, digital-centric customer experience, as they will be facing quite a few challenges. They are well aware of this and have, in fact, identified gaps in critical skills and capability as most likely to hold them back in providing excellent customer experience to today’s ever-growing digital-first consumers.

Digital is disrupting every industry, particularly during the other disruption that we’ve had in the past couple of years. It’s accelerated tremendously in terms of people adopting it, engaging through digital channels, in particular, and then obviously the impact it is having on the way people socialise, the way people communicate and the way businesses and government communicate,” said Simon Dale, Managing Director, Southeast Asia (SEA) & Korea, at Adobe, in a virtual brief with the media launching said report. “So, how do we make sense of this? What are people doing to identify the opportunities, as well as the obstacles and trying to do something to fix those obstacles.”

Adobe: Powering the 3Cs of the Digital-First Economy 

Driving the digital-first economy, according to Dale, are 3Cs: content, cookieless and commerce, and Adobe is powering each of these Cs. Content, as the saying goes, is king in the digital world, and Adobe is obviously regal in terms of providing the necessary software to create awesome, good-for-business content.

“In terms of what is important in engaging with customers using digital technology, content is our foundation,” said Dale. “Our Creative Cloud, Photoshop, Premier Pro, all these wonderful products that we have that people can play around with to develop content—there is an economy around Adobe technologies and the skillsets people develop on them.”

Going cookieless has become vital nowadays, as well, given the privacy concerns that come with the way cookies are used—which, to say the least, is controversial because it borders on the invasion of privacy. This is why the world is going cookieless, and obliging businesses to come up with more creative but less invasive ways of gathering information about the people they are engaging with—with an emphasis on data governance, in keeping this data as private as possible and in using it ethically.

The end-game of all this is to capitalise on the “C” that is commerce—only this time, it has gone digital as well, having been pushed by the “C” of COVID onto the online realm. Adobe’s cloud-native suite of products enables businesses to tap into the massive world of e-commerce in a variety of ways, starting with creating high-quality content, going cookieless and finding new ways to engage with today’s digital-first consumers (like signing documents through e-signatures and sending product fine prints via Adobe PDF).

Findings in Focus

The “2022 Digital Trends: APAC in Focus” report is derived from Adobe’s annual global Digital Trends Report, which highlights the various forces shaping the digital landscape. It surveyed more than 943 senior executives, IT professionals and marketing practitioners from November 2021 to January 2022, and yielded these other pertinent findings:

  • Over the past year and a half, 77% of APAC businesses saw a surge in new customers through digital channels while 77% witnessed new customer journeys. Unfortunately, only 25% of these businesses admit to having significant insights about this new wave of digital-first customers.
  • This surge can be attributed, in part, to the 130 million new APAC mobile subscribers in 2021. Digital transformation and the pandemic are the main reasons for this rise in first-time internet users, who are expected to ultimately leapfrog consumers in more mature digital markets.
  • In response to the rise of the digital-first consumer, 59% of APAC businesses are increasing their investments in customer experience management, slightly edging out businesses in North America (57%) and Europe (53%).
  • The talent gap is a major concern in the region, with 83% of APAC businesses leaders worried about it as compared to 79% in Europe and 73% in North America.
  • Curiously, APAC businesses expect hybrid work to return to pre-pandemic levels, and this can potentially limit the availability of digital talent, the majority of whom would likely prefer remote work.
  • Eighty-four per cent of APAC organisations expect technology to continue evolving, thus making skills development, agility and innovation strategic priorities.

Keeping Up With Digital Trends

The Adobe report is encouraging in that businesses around the world, particularly in the Asia Pacific region, are recognising the ongoing shift to the digital economy and are finding ways to engage with digital-first consumers. At the same time, the report is also eye-opening in that it outlines the biggest challenges with this digital paradigm. But businesses can overcome these challenges by modernising work practices, using technology to ensure privacy and regulatory compliance, cascading CMO and CIO collaboration all the way to day-to-day operations and prioritising upskilling and digital learning.

For more information, click here to read the full “2022 Digital Trends: APAC in Focus” report.