As we approach the end of 2023, we've seen companies undergoing digital transformation to cope with the change within the competitive business landscape, and this trend is only going to be more prominent, with the emergence of AI technologies.
In 2022 and 2023, many APAC firms were settling into a rhythm as efforts to localise solutions gained momentum despite the emergence of troubling trends such as a slackening focus on customer experiences (CX) and tech portfolios that were not well aligned between the growth agenda and the cost management imperative.
As AI technologies have taken the world by storm, firms in the Asia Pacific (APAC) are expected to navigate a complex path between legacy opportunities and growth opportunities driven by generative AI (genAI) in 2024.
As companies grapple with this sudden shift, they should align their carefully crafted strategies with the transformative potential of AI.
What does 2024 hold for APAC marketers? Let’s look at some of the trends outlined by Forrester set to shake up 2024.
1. GenAI's transformative impact may benefit a limited number of firms
While most APAC firms see genAI as a way to improve productivity, they may stumble due to a risk-averse culture and inadequate data management capabilities.
Just 22% of APAC business and technology pros whose firms are at the beginner level of IT maturity strongly agree that their organisation has an innovation-friendly culture, compared with 56% at firms with greater IT maturity. It shows that low-maturity firms may find it very difficult to harness genAI’s potential beyond some content-centric use cases.
By contrast, IT-mature organisations — about 30% of APAC firms — combine insights, culture and innovation so they can focus on using genAI to deeply transform their business.
It’s important for B2C marketers to acknowledge that realising enduring competitive advantage via genAI is likely a multiyear endeavour rather than a quick win. Nevertheless, frontrunners are strategically positioned to harness the AI revolution’s benefits, including enhanced productivity, operational resilience, CX and business model innovation.
2. Firms will start using AI-enabled skills intelligence to mitigate talent gaps
Recognising that tech strategy is only as effective as the people behind it, 34% of APAC leaders said that increasing access to training and skill development was key to improving employee experiences in 2023.
To address the ongoing talent shortage, leading firms are moving from credential-based hiring to a skill-centric approach to ensure that skills align with short- and long-term business needs. These firms will combine their existing analytics and data management capabilities with large language models to create a dynamic skills ontology.
While APAC firms have traditionally been cautious, the need for skilled talent will shift regional firms toward this type of measured innovation. Incorporating skills intelligence should be a priority if marketers are aiming for a workforce that’s agile, skilled and aligned with their future business goals.
3. CIOs will revisit ITFM and FinOps to address post-pandemic technical debt
Firms, driven by the need to survive lockdowns and recover revenue, heavily invested in digital business. However, the true extent and cost of technical debt resulting from shortcuts, duplicate solutions, and rushed implementations are now becoming evident.
In Forrester’s Modern Technology Operations Survey, 2022, 52% of digital and IT pros in APAC expressed concern about their firm’s technical debt. Some have strategies to tackle this issue: 53% of APAC cloud decision-makers say their firm will prioritise cloud modernisation in the next 12 months.
Forrester expects one in five to look at IT financial management (ITFM) and FinOps, but this won’t be enough; technical debt is complex and requires a multifaceted response.
In fact, this goes beyond financial optimisation to include a rigorous governance framework to scrutinise the business impact of each tech investment and operational capability. The goal isn’t just to manage costs; it’s also to eliminate strategic vulnerabilities that impede competitive advantage.
4. One in four B2B marketers will double their customer engagement budget
Forrester’s Marketing Survey, 2023, asked B2B marketing leaders in APAC about the primary way their firm grew in 2022 and planned to grow in 2023; customer marketing ranked second in both. However, marketing leaders don’t allocate marketing programme budgets accordingly: While 59% of B2B marketing leaders said that their firm planned to increase post-sale customer engagement budgets in 2022, just 53% said the same in 2023.
In 2024, firms should significantly increase customer marketing budgets to compensate for previous years. Any lack of focus on the full range of customer buying motions across retention, upsell, and cross-sell may set the scene for business growth strategies to underperform.
5. A small proportion of firms will truly measure customer trust
Customer trust is an imperative, not a slogan. Misinformation, lack of transparency, unfair treatment, mis-selling, price discrimination, privacy violations, data security breaches, unethical corporate practices, fraud, scandals, and corruption epitomise the decline in public trust and emphasise its fragility.
Trust should be at the heart of any organisation’s strategy — because without it, customers, employees, partners, or the public at large will simply disengage.
Doing right by customers earns their trust and loyalty. However, Forrester estimated that, by the end of 2024, 25% of APAC’s largest companies will announce a strategic commitment to customer trust, but only 5% of major APAC firms will effectively codify that commitment via effective measurement and organisational KPIs.
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