Consumer-facing industries lead in digital strategies: Forrester

A Forrester report has highlighted that CIOs need to drive a collaborative approach to their digital strategy.

Businesses within the media, telecommunication, transportation, healthcare, and banking and financial sector in the Asia Pacific have revealed in a new study that they believe they will be "massively disrupted" in the next 12 months by digital technologies.

Launched at Forrester Summit for CIO 2014 in Sydney, the State of Digital Business in Asia Pacific in 2014 report highlighted that CIO's success in driving digital business transformation has been spotty, with consumer-facing industries taking the early lead.

Dane Anderson, Forrester Research Asia Pacific region manager and research director, told ZDNet that one of the biggest challenges facing organisations is the lack of proper organisational structures, and therefore an unclear digital strategy.

"This is mainly because many want to ignore the changes that are taking place, but then there are others who say they know what it is, but they really don't know what it is. We refer to that as a 'bolt on' digital strategy where some executives will believe they are pushing a digital strategy but it's just really lip service, and they're not driving it through the business," he said.

The report recommends in order to move from being a 'digital dinosaur', where a digital strategy is virtually non-existent, to a 'digital master', CIOs need to help shape a digital business vision in collaboration with other businesses leaders within the company.

"CIOs used to say they needed a seat at the board to drive ideas, but the smart ones have figured out they don’t necessary need to do that," Anderson said.

"Instead they've created the best relationship with business leaders, and from there they develop innovative strategies together and find the budget for it. So I don't necessarily think a strategy is something technology has to drive but it has to be embedded into part of a broader idea."

Additionally, the reports suggested that businesses need to focus on the customer journey, alongside of delivering a mobile experience, and turning big data into business insight, which Anderson said are three market imperatives that businesses need to excel in the "age of the customer".

"The first thing they need to do is to drive a customer obsession strategy throughout their firm, and that means understanding the journey their customers take across each stage, what they value, and how those stages interlay with each other," he said.

"From an IT perspective, it's about focusing on business technology, not just information technology. Business technology is defined as systems and process that organisations use to retain customers."

He added based on evidence in the past, businesses that have focused their business strategy on customers have come out on top.

Although by comparison to other countries in the Asia Pacific region, Australia is leading by example, particularly within the financial sector, said Anderson, who draws on the Commonwealth Bank of Australia as an example of a company that has transformed its IT backend by embracing cloud computing, which has helped cut IT spend in half.

"I think Australian companies have been quite innovative and progressive in this regard. Australia is good at being a fast follower, that there is something inherent in the companies here that sometimes they're reluctant to take that first step but once they see it working in other markets they move and end bypassing the other market," he said.

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