Digital experience practitioners and vendors in the Asia Pacific (AP) region can empathize with many of the challenges their North American and European counterparts encountered in the Midwest last week at CMSWire's inaugural DX Summit in Chicago.

And though many countries in AP still trail the US and Europe, Australia holds its own.

In a recent report on vendors in Asia Pacific, Forrester Research rated Australian companies as digital experience pioneers. It also discovered no one vendor can offer a full digital experience suite. Customer-obsessed businesses win and strong mobile experiences differentiate enterprises.

“No single vendor offers all of the technologies needed to manage, engage and measure digital customer experiences,” said report author Frederic Giron, vice president and research director at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester.

Today, we’ll examine Forrester's report for DX in the largest region in the world (60 percent of the world's population) in the first of a two-part look at digital experience. Next, we'll catch up with the author of the Forrester Digital Experience Platform Wave.

(Editor’s note: Forrester’s Mark Grannan spoke at the DX Summit on the mandate to deliver digital experience.)

Down Under Winners

Frederic Giron of Forrester Research's headshot

Because AP is so diverse in terms of maturity level for digital experience providers, Giron said a single market is not reality.  

Australia emerged as a leader in the region, with both vendors and practitioners “close in maturity to what you can find in the US or Europe.” Giron cited Sydney-based banker Westpac, which ranked No. 2 globally in Forrester’s mobile banking functionality benchmark. (fee required). Australian companies, Giron told CMSWire, “are trying to deliver the promise of an end-to-end customer experience.”

“The focus on customer experience is key,” Giron said. “This is fast becoming the North Star of their digital transformation. The focus for leading firms is to bring the entire organization — including sales, marketing, customer service, technology, product engineering and operations — to become customer-obsessed.”

David Blakers, the Australia/New Zealand (ANZ) managing director for Salt Lake City, Utah-based MaritzCX, a customer experience software provider, said Australian companies have a history of aggressive digital marketing, shopping and brand delivery. He is based in Sydney.

“The Aussie culture is bold and proactive, and this carries over to digital marketing,” Blakers told CMSWire. “Consumers in Australia like bold offers, innovative technology for shopping and brand interactions. They like being cutting edge.”

MaritzCX research found 47 percent of Australian firms report making “substantial investments” in customer experience processes and technologies. These could include enterprise CX platforms, text analytics technology, employee-wide reporting systems, digital marketing tools and data mining solutions that will help them to be leaders in the new personalization economy, Blakers said.

Wayne Jasek, director of Asia Pacific operations at Web CMS software provider Kentico, called Australia one of the “global leaders in adoption of digital experience.”

Many organizations, he said, now put their primary focus on their digital presence, which makes user experience or customer experience departments the "backbones of the company.”

India, China Unique

In other parts of AP, India and China are playing catch up in their own, respective ways, according to Giron. He called China “a market of its own.” Digital trends and models there do not exist anywhere else.

“The presence of digital leaders like Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and Xiaomi is disrupting a number of industries in China like retail, manufacturing and financial services,” Giron said. “India also has large e-commerce firms like Flipkart and Snapdeal, but the disruption will mostly happen from startups as opposed to big digital leaders like in China. Nasscom estimates that 10,000 startups will operate in India by 2020.”

Meanwhile, Southeast Asia companies are “laggards.” Few companies in the region, not including Singapore, have defined a robust digital strategy, Giron said.

“This will change though as large, young, always connected and technology empowered populations are increasingly dictating the way they want their favorite brands engage with them,” he added.

False Promises

In the Forrester report, Giron cautions practitioners vying for digital experience advancements to vet service providers. He said companies should not expect to find customer experience, user experience and analytic skill sets in every AP market. Australia and Singapore include most of those skilled providers.

Oftentimes, service providers will provide false hopes with their digital customer experience skill sets. Giron also cautions it’s not enough to just know Adobe Analytics or Google Analytics.

As for vendors, “end-to-end” is a common promise, Giron said, but no vendor have achieved this capability. “The other cautionary tale for clients is that while technology is an important enabler of digital businesses, a single piece of technology will never make a digital strategy,” he added. 

“A digital transformation involves fundamental changes to major business processes, structure, models, technology/applications and culture. This is a business transformation that will take years or more. So companies need to start sooner than later.”

Destined for DX Greatness?

How soon will Asia Pacific be seen as a digital experience region along the likes of North America and Europe? MaritzCX’s Blakers said some companies in AP are already ahead.

“The Asia Pacific region boasts great progress on the digital experience front,” Blakers said. “Many parts of the region are mobile-advanced, more so than other regions worldwide. This allows modern approaches to be used effectively.”

But it can’t fully catch up yet, he added, unless it advances in areas like backend infrastructure, payment collection, marketing technology and delivery integrations. These “aren’t at the same standard as in other regions,” Blakers added. “However, their elements are improving.”

Some companies aren’t holding back entering the digital experience fray in AP. American children’s TV channel Boomerang released last month a mobile app available throughout Southeast Asia and Australia. Called Boomerang Watch and Play, the free app allows users to simultaneously watch video from animated content and play games.

“The gap between different geographical markets' maturity is closing," Kentico's Jasek said. "In a globalized world, needs and expectations of most customers are fairly similar. Still, there are less developed markets in AP where the interest in driving customer experience and focus on engagement is only starting to appear now whereas, for example, in Australia or New Zealand these are well-adopted methodologies."

Numbers Support Growth

Manish Bahl, head of the Center for the Future of Work (cFOW) in Asia Pacific, wrote that the region is a “hotbed” for digital transformation.

Bahl cited some AP region facts in January:

  • 55 percent of global mobile phone ownership (around 2.5 billion users)
  • 35 percent ($525.2 billion) of worldwide B2C e-commerce sales in 2015
  • Alipay, China’s third-party online payment company, is the largest online payment processor in the world processing
  • Singtel, a telecom provider in Singapore, invested $1.59 billion to fund a new division

Numbers aside, delivering a consistent digital experience includes some of common tenets — no matter where your company calls home.

“Delivering a great digital experience means that companies need to understand their customers' desires and serve them across digital touch points — mobile apps, websites, digital kiosks, wearables — leveraging digital technologies to support unified, cross-touchpoint experiences throughout the customer journey,” Giron said. “Forrester advocates using a simplified three-step view of digital capabilities, which allow organizations to: 1. Manage the process of creating an experience. 2. Engage customers, partners, and prospects. 3. Measure the reaction to an experience.”

You can access the full Forrester report, Vendor Landscape: Digital Experience Service Providers in Asia Pacific here (fee charged).

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License Title image by Betchaboy.