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Experience is the Key to Competitive Advantage

By Paul Robson, President,Adobe Asia Pacific

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Paul Robson, President, Adobe Asia Pacific

There is a new basis for competition that is rocking enterprises around the world and Asia Pacific is not immune. Customer experience is the new differentiator of success and is separating those brands which are pushing ahead with transformation, and those trapped in a business model of yesterday.

Today’s digital landscape is overflowing with people interacting across multiple devices, whether it’s mobile devices, wearables, tablets or even car dashboards. When new products and innovation come onto the market, people want to be able to use it. The increased expectations of consumers have brought us to a tipping point where experience must be at the center of everything we do.

We all recognize a bad experience when we see it. We don’t want to be treated like an anonymous number, we don’t want to browse an outdated website, we don’t want the PC, mobile and tablet experience to be the same, and we don’t want to be offered a special on something we just bought. For all of us as customers, our tolerance for bad experience is low, and our expectations are incredibly high. The challenge for brands is to understand the power of experiences, and transform their business models to ensure customer experience is front and centre.

This new era of experience represents the third wave of enterprise disruption that has happened over the last 50 years. To put it into perspective, the first wave affected the back-office and began in the 1960’s in the early days of computing. During this period, it became possible to digitally connect different parts of an organization to each other. These systems became known as ERP or MRP and drove efficiencies in manufacturing and production processes.

The second wave was the CRM revolution and focused on transforming the front office, managing sales teams and customer conversations. These CRM systems empowered firms to keep track on customers and selling conversations, share that information with their teams, and more efficiently manage sales processes.

The first two waves were about the business and helping us do our jobs more efficiently. The third wave is not about the business, it’s all about the consumer. It’s about the experience we provide the consumer as they shop, buy and use our products and it will be crucial to future business success.

Ensuring provocative, personal and seamless experiences requires businesses to transform and leverage the data at their fingertips. There are three key components of digital transformation: people, process and product.

When it comes to people, digital transformation will require the internal culture of brands to change dramatically. Teams will need to accept and embrace the concept of ‘always-on’ service delivery in a 24/7 world. Real-time testing will provide the ability to understand different audiences, target content at the individual level and see what messages are resonating. Importantly, campaigns can be adjusted based on hard data, not just gut feeling. Leveraging data and delivering services across devices and platforms will also require new skillsets. Brands will need people with data and analytics skills, as well as new media and social media skills.

Changing processes is key to successful digital transformation. Brands have access to vast amounts of data and with people able to touch many parts of an organization, bringing this data together will be crucial. Breaking down silos and shifting to an ‘always-on’ mentality will require new, more stream-lined processes across the organisation.

Investing in the most suitable products or technology will also be important and will form the backbone of transformation.

The experience business is about surprising and delighting your customers at every single touch point and part of their lives. Investment in the transformation necessary to become an experience business is significant, but standing still is not an option. Those brands embracing experience business are already pulling away from their competitors and creating a new normal for consumers. Experience is the new competitive advantage.

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