Mobile to drive APAC user experience, digital transformation in 2015

Mobile will power customer experiences and drive digital transformation across Asia-Pacific in 2015, predicts Forrester, but most businesses won't be able to provide the necessary services to service mobile consumers.

In less than two months we'll be ushering in 2015, and the new year is expected to bring higher tech spending with Asia-Pacific businesses increasingly tapping mobile messaging apps to improve customer engagement. Despite the region's high mobile adoption, however, few organizations will leverage this and offer services tailored for this sector.

Mobile-powered customer experiences will drive digital transformation across the region next year, which will drive technology spend by 4.9 percent, said Forrester. The research firm noted that 79 percent of companies ranked improvements to customer experience as a high or critical priority for their business in 2015, while 57 percent said increasing customer expectation was the primary reason to spend more on ICT purchases. 

"Organizational inertia" and complacency, though, will prove to be the biggest obstacle to digital transformation, Forrester said, with few fully understanding what is required to build a digital business.

And while 36 percent of adults in Asia will own a smartphone by end-2015, with countries such as Singapore clocking 86 percent penetration rate, Forrester noted that few businesses will be able to offer the necessary mobile services to serve these consumers. It added that mobile will remain small in terms of overall spending, particularly in advertising.

The good news is Asian organizations will increasingly tap mobile messaging apps to improve customer engagement, especially since there are already more than 1 billion users on WeChat, Line, KakaoTalk, Viber, and WhatsApp. In fact, Forrester said spending in this space would come at the expense of social networks. "[We expect] mobile messaging to begin siphoning ad spend away from Facebook, especially for price-sensitive businesses in Asia-Pacific that increasingly question the platform's effectiveness."

Across the region, businesses will be focusing on data analytics to gain better customer insights, with spending in this space projected to increase by at least 10 percent. "Marketing teams will take the lead to seek data-fueled improvements in customer engagement," Forrester said. 

The analyst firm believes China will emerge as the region's brightest spark in driving digital innovation, supported by its sheer market population, lack of legacy, and well-funded market players. The Asian nation is projected to become the world's largest e-commerce market next year, clocking US$315.3 billion in online sales . In addition, some 95 percent of its metropolitan region are already using social media today. 

Not to be outdone, India could also see great potential growth next year, fueled by the government's US$17 billion Digital India initiative. Describing it as a game-changer, Forrester said the program has the potential to transform the country to a digitally-powered knowledge economy. However, India will continue to face challenges including infrastructure operations and standards, and the lack of involvement from technology management. 

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