Forrester research indicates that APAC businesses risk losing 31 percent of their customers and 43 percent of their revenue because of “a lack of digital alternatives.” What now?
For business leaders in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, this is a doubly urgent time. Not only are they working amid an extended global pandemic, but — compared to peers in other parts of the world — many APAC businesses are behind in digital readiness. Their next steps in the coming year could define their coming decade.
Slower start, greater risk
APAC organisations have lagged behind their European and North American counterparts in digitising workflow processes. For example, only 12 percent of APAC organisations have transitioned to fully digitised document workflows. On average, according to a 2020 Forrester paper, APAC business leaders say they risk losing 31 percent of their customers and 43 percent of their revenue because of “a lack of digital alternatives.”
In assessing the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on business, many APAC leaders had assumed that while distributed teams were here to stay, staff, customers, and suppliers would still sometimes interact face-to-face — meeting physically, inking paper contracts, and collaborating in person on a whiteboard.
It now seems likely that even when the COVID-19 crisis passes, such real-world interactions could be far less common than before the pandemic. Organisations that fail to embrace digital processes across their organisations will be at a growing competitive disadvantage. So, it’s not surprising that business leaders all over the world — including, recently, those in the APAC region — now rate ‘digitising workflows’ as being as crucial as ‘getting on the cloud’ used to be.
The acceleration has begun
APAC business leaders now appear to be accepting what the data has been showing for many years: adopting end-to-end digital processes fosters collaboration, improves employee productivity, raises customer satisfaction, and guarantees better document security.
Forrester research commissioned by Adobe found that digitisation improved employee collaboration in 51 percent of APAC organisations.
Forrester also reports that 60 percent of APAC decision-makers consider document workflow automation as an important feature to support business continuity and agility, and 42 percent of them say the pandemic has caused their organisation to accelerate the adoption of e-signature capabilities. On average, APAC organisations plan to up their spend on digital document processes by 51 percent over the next 12 months. The tide is turning.
APAC organisations must act urgently to establish the team agility, processes, and digital tools that will enable them to compete in our evolving world.
Here are the three truths leaders should keep in mind as they strengthen their organisation’s capabilities:
- Flexible team structures benefit your people and your business - Distributed, digitally connected teams are more than a solution to a short-term problem. As APAC faces uncertainty in the coming years, organisations that have embraced team agility as a mindset and a long-term operating model will be more resilient. They’ll also have an advantage in the ongoing talent wars.
In the global 2021 Digital Trends study by Econsultancy and Adobe, managers reported that flexibility was a stronger motivating factor for their top-performing employees than compensation. “Companies will unconsciously sort themselves into two categories: rigid and flexible,” the report notes — predicting that in the battle for the best digital and customer experience talent, “flexibility will win in a landslide.”
The modern workforce must transform and adapt to employee preferences for collaboration and flexibility while minimising disruption for customers. In this new era of team creativity and digital-first customers, focusing on people is a foundational first step.
- Smart digital processes help you get more value from your technology - Once your teams are assembled and calibrated to this new working world, they need a set of strategically structured processes to realise your shared goals. With colleagues once a desk away now a city or country away, having these processes crisply embedded in the digital world is vital.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud and mobile technologies are reshaping the way we work — and changing how we create and manage the documentation that keeps business moving forward. These technologies can make people more productive and boost collaboration and creativity among dispersed teams. But that doesn’t just happen automatically every time you add a new set of apps to your toolkit. Take the time to thoughtfully design workflows that help your people work better together and unlock the full value of your tech investments.
- Seamless collaboration tools help your teams better serve your customers - In a digital-first world where customers expect brands to provide them with timely, relevant experiences, you need tools that facilitate seamless collaboration. The right digital tools can make your internal teams more efficient, accelerate customer-facing business processes, and help your organisation deliver content and experiences that matter to your customers.
- Companies have gained results from an end-to-end digital experience — from content creation to secure electronic sign-offs — that can be seamlessly managed in the cloud and accessed from any device at any time. With the right combination of agile teams, thoughtfully designed processes, and digital tools, you’ll be able to keep your employees engaged, adapt to changing market conditions, and deliver a customer experience that sets you apart from the competition.
As the vision for the new digital workplace takes shape, APAC leaders must be ready to truly drive digital transformation within their organisations. The landscape is rapidly shifting. Are your people, processes, and tools in place to position you for success?