Lack of digital skills and workflow issues hinder Asia marketers, finds Adobe study

Times are evolving fast, especially in the digital age and amidst the pandemic. Hence, it is important for brands to be nimble and act quickly to adapt to the changing business environment and provide a good customer experience. However, three factors are hampering marketing and experience for organisations in Asia Pacific - legacy technology and systems, workflow issues, and the lack of digital skills and capabilities.

According to a report done by Adobe in partnership with Econsultancy which surveyed 13,000 marketing, advertising, eCommerce, creative, and IT professionals worldwide, the main challenge for companies in Asia was workflow issues (48%), followed by a lack of digital skills and capabilities (43%) and legacy technology and systems (37%). Asia is defined as Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Japan.

Meanwhile, 51% of professionals in ANZ cited legacy technology and systems as their main barrier, followed by workflow issues (38%), and a lack of digital skills and capabilities (34%). Legacy technology and systems (37%) as well as workflow issues (33%) were also top two barriers for professionals in India, followed by the lack of digital skills and capabilities (24%).

During a virtual media briefing, Adobe's MD, Southeast Asia Simon Dale explained that legacy systems are the main barrier for professionals in ANZ because it is a more mature tech market. Hence, with prior experience in this area brings about more legacy systems. On the other hand, Asia's tech market is less mature compared to ANZ's and hence, it does not have the issue of legacy systems. However, this also means that the region is lacking in automated systems and hence, workflow issues are Asia's biggest barrier for marketing and customer experience.

He explained that it is crucial to be able to manage data and interpret insights at velocity. "Marketers need to understand and act on data more quickly to help make confident decisions. There is a capability gap in Asia in terms of having the tools, tech as well as experience and skills. While tech tools are important, there is also a need in terms of the understanding and maturity, as well as the capability of getting insights for the company," he added.

adobe 2021 digital trends workflow legacy

Only one third (35%) of ANZ leaders believe their organization has strong capabilities in accuracy, actionability, speed and access of insights, while Asian leaders are far more pessimistic at around 9%. However, respondents across Asia (49%) and ANZ (40%) are planning to invest resources in improving insights and analytics capabilities to achieve their top marketing goals in 2021.

Lack of CX prioritisation

There is also a lack of CX prioritisation among leaders from CX mainstream companies (30%) compared with CX leaders (12%). According to Adobe, CX leaders are defined as companies with a very advanced approach to customer experience, where strategy and technology are aligned to a successful effect. They represent 18% of the sample size. Meanwhile, CX mainstream are organisations which range from "immature" to "somewhat advanced" in their CX approach and form 82% of the sample size.

In ANZ, there is a focus on personalised customer experience (33%) while Asian leaders are committed to enabling digital customer acquisition (35%). Duncan Egan, Adobe's VP of DX marketing, APAC and Japan, said companies with better access to insights are more likely to say their customers are about their digital experience compared to their peers with lower levels of insight. "company with a strong CX strategy is more likely to achieve long-term growth than its competitors, as they are better positioned to adapt to changeable customer behaviours and markets," he added.

Another aspect of CX is privacy and transparency. Announcements such as Google moving away from third-party cookies and Apple's impending iOS update are indicative of the growing emphasis on customer privacy. Majority of senior marketing executives (92%) say that privacy is a fundamental part of CX, and 53% of CX leaders "strongly agree" that "how a brand handles customer consent in their first interaction shapes trust going forward". However, only 53% of executives at mainstream companies say that privacy and consent are key factors in their planning, although the share rises to 68% among executives at CX leaders.

Adobe found that forward-looking companies view privacy as more than an obligation. Half of CX leaders and a third of those from mainstream companies "strongly agree" that transparency in how customer data is used can be a differentiator for their brands.

Closer to home, 41% of marketers in Asia and 56% in ANZ say customer privacy and consent are key factors in planning. However, transparency is still lacking, with only a small number of leaders - 12% in Asia and 13% in ANZ - claiming their company is effective at communicating how data is collected and used. Also, only 10% in ANZ and 13% in Asia believe they are highly effective at communicating the value offered in exchange for customers’ consent when they first encounter the brand.

Empathy is also another key area that brands should take note of, especially as digital convenience becomes a commodity. Adobe's report said analysing and adapting to a customer’s emotional journey in this new world will be the next evolution of experience management. However, most organizations are still a long way from authentically displaying digital empathy.

Just over a third (37%) of Indian executives have significant insights into customer mindset, followed by 27% in ANZ and 19% in Asia. Drivers of purchase, friction points and attribution of how marketing actions relate to customer behaviour fare only marginally better.

Understanding the need to unify martech systems

To tackle the issue of legacy technology, some companies have decided to combine their existing tech with a cloud-based martech platform. Adobe explained that even as companies try to cut costs and reduce the number of vendors they work with, the complex system of third-party platforms along with in-house and point solutions will persist for some time. This is especially so in larger organisations. At the same time, there is also a high priority for agility and the capacity to add capabilities on demand.

Based on this, Adobe said in the study that companies are seeking an approach that connects all the various systems it has on a single platform that takes advantage of the interoperability and flexibility of cloud-based architecture. Both CX leaders (39%) and leaders from CX mainstream organisations (38%) are on the same page when it comes to ensuring their cloud-based marketing data platform are in sync with other marketing data management systems, Adobe found.

adobe digital survey trends cloud based

Additionally, more CX mainstream leaders (31%) are using multiple technologies and vendors for their marketing without having a unifying platform, compared with 16% of CX leaders. That said, even among CX leaders, only 28% of them said they exclusively use a cloud-based platform for marketing data and the same can only be said for only 11% of CX mainstream leaders.

Investing in a hybrid workplace

About two-thirds of respondents indicated that their company anticipates increasingly hybrid approaches to work that include both home and office. This, however, is dependent on organisational culture. The report found that traditionalists with hierarchical structures and market-driven cultures are the most likely to want their employees to be in the office. On the other hand, flexible companies that prioritise individual responsibility and companies with collaborative cultures that value the individual are more open to employee-driven remote work.

adobe digital survey trends remote work 2

adobe digital survey trends remote work

Top initiatives in response to remote work include: increased training, improved data sharing for remote team members and countering the effects of remote work on team cohesion with well-being programs. A quarter of executives indicated they offer remote work stipends and 18% offer stipends for out-of-home remote work situations.

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Photo courtesy: 123RF

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