Embracing Change: Digital Transformation in 2018

A startup enters an established industry, using technology to coordinate logistics and translate market gaps into practical products. Utilising personalised offers and loyalty bonuses, it grows its customer base rapidly. They know their customers so well that they can accurately forecast their next purchase window and promote a relevant selection of products, segmented based on their behaviour to entice them to purchase. In the end, the incumbents are displaced and the startup rises to the top of the food chain. If this story sounds familiar, that’s because at their core, the stories of disruptors such as Xiaomi, Go-Jek and Lazada are the same: know the consumer and give them what they want in the most efficient way – using technology.

Mobile-first economies are giving brands here a golden opportunity to lead the way in exploring new methods of interacting with their consumers. However, true digital transformation – a term thrown around a fair amount in this day and age – means adopting a mindset that starts at this initial touch point for consumer engagement, and goes deeper to impact every area of the business.

High risk, high reward

Recent research suggests that many APAC organisations have yet to fully embrace digital in their workflow. Microsoft Asia’s 2020 Workplace Study revealed that only 26 percent of respondents believe their organisation is committed at a leadership level to ensure employees are equipped to close the digital skills gap, such as in data science and digital marketing. In addition, Gartner’s 2017 CEO survey urged APAC firms to quickly capitalise on the potential of technology if they want to transform.

Business leaders willing to step out of the safe zone now have an opportunity to surge ahead and lead the pack. Take ride-hailing platform Grab as an example. It is, and has always been, a company that thrives on taking risks. Today, the company reigns as one of the most engaging brands and leading ride-hailing platforms in Asia.

Embracing digital change

Leaders can help drive a positive attitude towards change by embracing a digital native mindset themselves. They need to live and breathe digital, to influence the way their team thinks. By looking to connect systems, such as social platforms to website analytics, they can scope out skills gaps and work on training or acquiring the resources to address them.

Being prepared and stepping into this new mindset calls for the right approach. A well-defined plan aligned with the organisation’s goals is necessary to drive change across departments. When Marketing objectives can be clearly linked to business objectives, the focus will naturally shift away from cost metrics such as impressions and clicks to value metrics such as sales growth.

Planning should also secure business growth in the longer term, and attract the right talent. Successful marketers today possess a number of common traits: a constant drive to improve themselves and stay ahead of the curve, a thirst for clarity that impels them to measure every aspect of the funnel, and an openness to experimentation to discover the most optimal ways to market to customers.

Digital transformation needs to cut across all functions, with leaders setting an example by having a pioneering attitude. There needs to be a “me first” approach, where employees hold themselves to accountability for sustained, concerted efforts to driving change, before real transformation can take place.

Resolutely digital

As people become more seamlessly connected across devices and increase their engagement on social media, brands have an opportunity to connect with their customers more intimately than before. Technology now allows for content to be personalised down to the individual consumer, giving rise to endless possibilities. In 2018, this will continue to evolve as business landscapes change and new technologies emerge. Ongoing education is necessary to boost morale and equip employees with the skill set they need to drive both themselves and the business forward.

Brands that embrace digital in the New Year – wholly, strategically and across the business – will reap the rewards of deeper and more meaningful engagement with their customers. A resolution, I feel, worth sticking to.

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