Even with abundant data available, APAC respondents in digitally-transformed organizations cited difficulties in deriving value from the intelligence

In a Q4 2021 global survey of 1,668 C-suite executives and senior leaders (including 394 from the Asia Pacific region, including 80 people from Singapore and Thailand), the most significant customer experience challenge in the APAC group was responding to changing customer needs even with abundant data available.

All respondents came from organizations with US$1bn or more in revenues.

Some 46% of respondents from Singapore and Thailand indicated that rapidly changing customer needs were difficult to track and had impacted their firms’ ability to be more customer centric. At the same time, 16% of Singapore respondents and 19% of Thailand respondents indicated they were leveraging data to be predictive, innovative and to improve every aspect of their business—when the top reason cited by 40% of APAC firms (40% in Singapore, 37% in Thailand) cited ‘meeting changing consumer needs’ as the driver of ‘technology-enabled transformation’.

Other APAC findings include:

    • 57% of APAC (including Singapore and Thailand) respondents indicated that they were looking to invest in data and analytics to drive long-term value, followed by three others in descending priority:
      • cloud (APAC: 49%, Singapore and Thailand: 43%),
      • internet of things (APAC: 44%, Singapore and Thailand: 43%)
      • AI & ML (APAC: 35%, Singapore and Thailand: 30%)

      These four foundational technologies were expected to account for the largest share of investment and to deliver the most value over the next two years.

    • 63% of APAC (Singapore and Thailand: 76%) respondents indicated that they faced a major issue with employee skills gaps in finding, combining and analyzing the data.
    • 42% of APAC (Singapore and Thailand: 35%) respondents indicated that data and analytics was the most important digital and technology-related skill needed for organizational transformation.
    • 70% of APAC (Singapore and Thailand: 80%) respondents ‘agreed’ to prompts that the “Great Resignation” had made talent acquisition more difficult, while 70% of APAC (Singapore and Thailand: 72%) indicated they were turning their focus to reskill their existing employees instead of hiring experienced people.
    • 46% of APAC (Singapore and Thailand: 49%) respondents indicated ineffective upskilling or retention programs were the biggest internal challenge to the success of the reskilling plans.

According to Gaurav Modi, Asean and Singapore Consulting Leader, EY, which conducted the survey: “While foundational technologies are becoming the bare minimum for technology investments, building the right technology combination involves picking additional technologies that are unique to the sectors that the company is operating in. To bridge the digital talent gap, companies need to take a multifaceted approach. They need to be proactive with change management and new-experience design for employees, implement a holistic digital talent strategy to retain existing staff; and attract new talent to secure required skills. Participating in digital ecosystems to access skills and outsourcing to a trusted strategic partner are also pathways to accelerate access to capabilities.”

Aside from having the right strategy for business, technology and data, the most successful technology transformations put humans—committed leadership and empowered employees—at the center, Modi added.