Joe Baguley, VP & CTO EMEA, VMware
The business-consumer relationship has been challenged by a world gone digital. As organisations work to discover their digital identity, growing consumer expectations are placing online experiences under a microscope. Businesses are now dealing with a consumer base of whom 60% identify as ‘digitally curious’ or as ‘digital explorers’, demonstrating the appetite for greater digital experience that is more exciting and engaging. In fact, 44% of consumers are prepared to switch to a competing brand if their digital experience does not live up to expectations. This is creating an incredible opportunity for organisations to demonstrate the power and impact of their innovation. However, it is also creating a risk for those not keeping pace to lose business, in some cases, permanently.
As businesses work to secure consumer delight, global executives have shared a major clue for how to proceed. According to Forrester, 82% say that the customer experience is directly intertwined with revenue growth. But how do you successfully drive the consumer experience?
At the very forefront of successfully delivering this experience is applications, and the same global execs believe the way businesses deliver their services and engage their audiences is critical: with 88% believing the customer experience will be improved by enhancing their application portfolios.
It is this digital curiosity being displayed by consumers that they must tap into. Europe’s consumers are hungry for new digital goods and services. 42% are more excited than concerned by the increased presence of digital experiences in their daily lives. 46% are using a specific brand service because of its superior digital offerings in the market. The bottom line of this digital shift is clear; the consumer is the root of future success, and the heart of this root beats for digital. This is inspiring news for organisations who are embracing the charge to rethink, adapt or launch new digital strategy. For those not yet on-board, this also serves as a warning.
The yearning for digital has not entirely been satiated and there has been an underwhelming response to the online experiences on offer. Consumers have been moulded into addicts of personal, immediate, pioneering technological experiences and look to their favourite brands to sustain this craving. Organisations that have not managed to establish a digital identity have suffered the consequences. The recent demise of High-Street veteran retailers is the painful reality of companies who fail to innovate at the pace of consumer expectations. High-street womenswear icon Topshop has now been bought by ASOS.com, the online fashion retail giant, following in the footsteps of Boohoo.com’s purchase of Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins and others.
The past year has undoubtedly been a tough year for business. Innovation has been palpable as businesses have been faced with the challenge of adapting their strategies almost overnight to function primarily if not entirely online. It is vital to highlight – these are all app-first led innovations. As an example, to relieve pressure on the National Health Service (NHS), U.K. medical practitioners have been advocating for the use of online services like AI-enabled diagnostic websites and applications such as Doctorlink, and electronic prescription services (EPS), such as Echo Pharmacy. EPS use has reached an all-time user high with now over 85% of primary care prescriptions in England being processed online. Similarly, supermarket chains have had to create complex delivery systems to cater for increased demand, and retail stores are now heavily reliant on e-commerce and ‘click and collect’ efforts to maintain their businesses. Social media provides additional possibilities as companies can advertise and host their e-commerce directly on these platforms. In October of 2020, Instagram launched its new ‘Shop’ feature enabling Instagrammers to purchase goods and services directly through one app on their mobile device.
Today, there is a brilliant opportunity for businesses to increase the diversity of their digital services – but in a way that separates them from the competition. Fintech is an industry particularly on the inspiration watchlist as apps are quickly becoming the new bank branch, with platforms such as Revolut, for easy international transfers and work with cryptocurrencies, and Honeydue, the app marketed to couples designed to make synchronised money management easier. New Dutch bank Bunq aims to revolutionise fintech, branding itself as ‘money’s swiss army knife’. It caters to growing market trends such as eco-consciousness, digital socialising, money-tracking and spending categorisation.
Government departments and commercial businesses have a willing and able audience to consume their services and experiences thanks to this newfound consumer ‘digital curiosity’. Brands must adapt to the ‘big digital shift’ or risk of losing relevancy and their competitive edge in their markets. The ability to quickly develop and get new applications into the hands of consumers is going to lead business progress. Organisations must look to unify consumer experience through the enabler of a digital foundation; a foundation that can deliver applications, via any cloud, to any device, secure, and at speed. A platform that can deliver new emerging technologies, from IoT to AI and ML, to deliver the next experience of next-generation apps.
Organisations are faced with a refreshing reality; it is no longer sufficient to ‘digitise’, they must ‘be digital’. The cry for innovation will be answered as organisations draw upon the attractive features that have made the digital advantage our architect of opportunity; ease of use, speed of service, more engaging resource management, increased agility and productivity to name a few. Consumer cravings satiated with elevated digital experience should be a warning and opportunity for all. Business must prepare to reflect and reform to unlock the full potential of ‘the big digital switch’.