Wednesday, 12 March 2014 20:27

Aussie business looking for ‘more collaboration’ with customers


Digital will continue to emerge as the lead channel to connect with customers for Australian business leaders, according to a newly published global study which reveals, however, that Australian customers wield less influence on business leaders than in other countries.

According to the global study by IBM, business leaders in Australia and in more than 69 other countries, have identified the top three priorities to improving customer engagement as creating a consistent customer experience (81%), quickly responding to emerging trends (77%) and combining internal and external data to gain insights (76%).

And, the IBM C-suite study, including face-to-face interviews with 97 Australian C-suite leaders, shows that taking a “digital-first approach” to customer collaboration will help the C-suite to achieve their priorities.

Australian customers – 47% wield less influence on business leaders than in other countries, where the figure is 54%, and only 29% of Australian business leaders claim to have strong collaboration with customers today.

IBM says the study shows that over the next five years the Australian C-suite will “triple their efforts to collaborate with customers,” up to 87% from 29% now.

Today in Australia, however, the study found that two-thirds of business leaders say they have a weak digital strategy – or none at all, with only 32% claiming to have an integrated digital-physical strategy.  It also found that Aussie C-suite leaders called out competing priorities (75%) and the lack of a cohesive social media plan (72%) as the key challenges hindering implementation of this strategy.

Key findings from Australian leaders in the IBM Global C-suite Study are:

•    Less than 50% are strongly influenced by customers today, with only 29%  saying they understand their customers well

•     87% called out customer collaboration as their top priority over the coming five years

•    92% will choose digital as the lead channel to engage with customers in the next three to five years

•    Two-thirds currently feel they have a weak digital strategy – or none at all.

According to Ian Wong, IBM Interactive Experience Lead, Australia and New Zealand, the rapid adoption of digital technologies and the high penetration of mobile devices by customers “has driven a power shift, pushing organisations to take an outside-in approach to business strategy.”

“Listening, capturing and analysing data from these customer interactions provides valuable insights for business leaders.”

The study shows that in Australia today, face-to-face is still the lead channel for customer engagement for the C-suite, followed by digital (80% face-to-face and 66% digital).  

IBM says that, over the next three to five years, this trend will reverse with 92% of business leaders identifying digital as the channel to engage with customers.

Concludes Wong: “The lack of a digital strategy suggests that Australian leaders are taking a tactical, siloed approach to digital collaboration with customers rather than a seamless cross-channel engagement.  

“If organisations are to remain relevant to customers, and survive in the digital economy, their business strategies need to be informed based on insights gained from integrated digital-physical engagements with customers.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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