I was lucky enough to get an invite yesterday to a great industry lunch put on by Sitecore here in Adelaide (thanks Tim and Nicole). Over a fantastic three course meal at Georges on Waymouth, we listened to a very insightful presentation by Trevor Clarke from Tech Research Asia about the direction that digital is heading in Australia, both from a consumer and business perspective. Tech Research Asia recently underwent a detailed research project that polled 1,000 digitally-active consumers and CIOs/CTOs to arrive at a series of findings.
Here are the key ‘takeaways’ from the presentation:
- Most consumers recognise ‘online chat’ as a staple digital offering in Australia, however many businesses have not yet explored opportunities for real-time messaging or chat (just over 20% of businesses surveyed employ online chat in their customer service offering).
- 30% of Australians say that ‘digital isn’t really important’. That leaves 70% that do, but there are still a bunch of people out there who are really happy transacting in-person (28% prefer this method) and on the telephone (8%). Forcing people to go down the digital path at the expense of ‘real world’ interaction isn’t always a good idea – just ask the Australian Taxation Office.
- Asked why digital is important, most consumers said they liked the fact that they could transact with businesses 24/7 and on their own terms. Laptops and Desktop Computers remain the principal device used for interacting digitally (followed by the mobile phone) and payments and financial transactions are the number one digital activity.
- The principal factors that impact a customer’s online experience relate to security and the storage and usage of privacy information by organisations. Unwanted advertising is by far the biggest frustration (Get AdBlock for Chrome – it’s awesome!). On the business side of the house, security is by far the most pressing concern when it comes to providing digital services to customers. This is perhaps indicative of the struggle that many organisations are having around the ‘cloud’ versus ‘on-premises’ debate.
- Here in South Australia, we have the least number of ‘digital patriots’ (die-hard digital types who eschew non-digital engagement) compared to other states. The preferred engagement channel for South Australians is ‘in person’ and we have the highest incidence of using paper documents, which might be indicative of our older and more conservative population (?). Interestingly, 1 in 5 South Australians are interested in using a connected car – possibly because of recent publicity around driverless car trials and the fact that we need to find a new automotive-related industry in the wake of the Holden closure.
- It was interesting to see that almost 10% of businesses are intending to invest in drones and unmanned aerial vehicles. Perhaps there was a high proportion of military people (or Amazon employees) in the survey sample? That said, the use of drones in everyday life has crept up on us very quickly – just check the Christmas JB Hi-Fi or Dick Smith catalogues to see the selection of sleek flying machines available to the public. Privacy anyone?
Apart from the findings of the survey, I was most interested in Trevor’s view in relation to the ‘place’ of digital in organisations – a view which aligns with my own. At the risk of putting myself out of business as a ‘digital strategist’, organisations need to understand that they DO NOT need to develop a separate and distinct ‘digital strategy’, but rather, their overall ‘business strategy’ needs to incorporate digital as an enabling technology across the full spectrum of business operations. ‘Digital’ is an all-pervading phenomenon – it is not just a business vertical that demands a separate team or department and a separate strategy. When it’s done well, it is done horizontally across an entire organisation by everyone – ‘digital’ should be employed to best effect in sales, in HR, in IT, in marketing, in operations, in customer service, in legal etc. Digital shouldn’t just be parked in IT or Marketing or given to a specially-established ‘digital team’. Digital is not important (Digital’s dead, baby) as a distinct function or entity within an organisation, but it is critically important (long live Digital!) as an enabling technology and a mechanism to engage with customers. Many organisations are currently tackling ‘digital’ the wrong way around.
Really enjoyed the lunch – thanks for the invite!