#MarketingEventsAwards spills: Accenture's marketing director on going beyond CX

Emerging champion for the Best Team (Brand) category at the Marketing Events Awards 2020 is global consultancy firm Accenture. The company tackled the challenging year of 2020 head-on, and adapted very quickly to keep its clients and staff connected. It also saw the need to upskill its staff in light of the increased demand in technology, and acted fast to reskill its people in areas of high demand such as cloud. The year also saw the company strengthening its leadership team in Southeast Asia, with a newly-appointed chairman, country managing director in Singapore, as well as a market unit lead for Southeast Asia.

In an exclusive interview with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Fen Peh, director of marketing and communications of Southeast Asia at Accenture, said while the firm looked to pivot its offerings to suit the new normal in 2020, such as replacing physical events with virtual ones, it also embraced new ways of engaging its clients. "We still see the need to connect with clients but instead of merely creating or participating in virtual events, we set out to form communities of support," she added. Peh also shares the company's focus for 2021, and some market trends it foresees. 

Read more about it here.


What are some of the expectations your consumers now have for your brand?

Peh: 2020 was a challenging year for many organisations where they are forced to respond and make decisions amidst great uncertainty. Our clients appreciate that they can tap on the depth and breadth of our capabilities to help them navigate the financial and operational challenges while addressing the needs of their people, customers and stakeholders.

Accenture had adapted very quickly and despite its size, it was able to enable remote working for the majority of its 514,000 employees within weeks. We rolled out #MoreTogetherNow to support and connect our people around the world. As we saw the shift in demand in technology, we also acted quickly to reskill our people in areas of high demand such as cloud. These are the same challenges our clients faced and they have come to rely on our ability to help them innovate alongside with the certainty of delivery.

How has your marketing/your clients marketing plans shifted this year?

Peh: The pandemic has impacted our marketing plans in several ways. First, we had to pivot from planned campaigns and refocus our efforts on campaigns to help clients outmaneuver uncertainty and navigate the human and business impact of COVID-19.

We embraced new ways of engaging our clients. Prior to the pandemic, physical events, large or small, were platforms for us to share insights and network with partners and clients. As countries go into “lock down”, we had to cancel many events. We still see the need to connect with clients but instead of merely creating or participating in virtual events to replace physical ones, we set out to form communities of support. We brought c-suite executives together and created a safe space where they can have candid discussions around challenges that they are facing in their respective functions and tap on each other’s experiences and insights.

2020 also brought about different ways of engaging our people, potential hires and local communities. We rolled out a campaign centered around our people’s physical and mental well-being, addressing challenges as boundaries blurred and the place we work is also where we live. Through the campaign, we rallied our people to contribute back to their local communities across Southeast Asia, be it via donations or supporting local businesses. We also created a Nurses Tribute video that was launched on the International Nurses Day, where our employees expressed their gratitude to healthcare professionals.

What are some of the trends you see carrying on post-pandemic, and how are you readying your workforce to be ready with these trends?

Peh: We just released our 14th Fjord Trends 2021 report. One of the emerging trends is “collective displacement” as the way we experience things changed in 2020 and brands need to seek new ways and offer new experiences to interact with people. People are also spending much more time interacting with the world via screens and organisations must reconsider design, content, audience and the interaction between them to avoid a certain “sameness” and differentiate themselves from other brands.

With that in mind, organisations must shift their focus from customer experience (CX), which in recent years have focused on optimising customer touchpoints, to the business of experience (BX) – a more holistic approach that solves human needs around a purpose. 

Behind the BX is our digital agency arm, Accenture Interactive, which is ranked the world’s largest digital agency and was named a Leader in Forrester report on Asia Pacific digital experience agencies.

Cloud will continue to be an urgent imperative as it is the foundation for the digital transformation that is changing how businesses operate, compete and create value. Cloud can make companies resilient in the near term by navigating extreme surges or drops in demand. In 2020, Accenture announced an investment of US$3 billion to enable our clients to become "cloud first" businesses. A new multi-service group of 70,000 cloud professionals was formed, integrating a wide range of cloud expertise including cloud migration, infrastructure, application services and ecosystem partnerships, data and Applied Intelligence capabilities.

What do you think makes for great marketing these days?

Peh: Marketers need to move beyond CX and further entrench themselves across the business to become advocates for experiences that connect clients to what they want. The ability to harness the power of partnerships, data and technology to optimise experiences will also set marketing efforts apart.

Increasingly, consumers want companies to take a stand on current and relevant issues such as sustainability, transparency, and fair employment practices. They prefer to buy goods and services from companies that stand for a shared purpose that reflects their own views. As such, it is important for organisations to have a clear purpose and have it thread through their marketing efforts.

How are you planning for 2021?

Peh: We launched our new brand campaign and company purpose in October 2020 and we will continue to build on that in 2021.

Our purpose – to deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity – and our new brand campaign “Let there be change” reflects our commitment and work around helping organisations embrace change and ensure that it benefits their customers, people, partners and communities.

We will be working closely with business to build the right experiences for our clients and communities.

Sustainability is important to Accenture and we are embedding responsible business practices in all of our services and across every area of our company. We will work closely with clients and ecosystem partners to promote and embed sustainable practices, reduce carbon footprint and reskill workforces.

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