Transformation, customer experience go hand in hand: Adobe
By Edwin Yapp May 16, 2017
- The ‘customer experience’ must be a boardroom agenda
- SEA enterprises struggling to deal with customers’ experiences
ENTERPRISES in SouthEast Asia (SEA) are driven by many different reasons to embark on digital transformation projects but they would need to ensure that they have laser-sharp focus on the customer experience if they are to succeed, according to software player Adobe Systems Inc.
Speaking at a media briefing recently, Adobe managing director for SEA V.R. Srivatsan (pic) said companies that aren’t trying to make customer experience the centrestage of their boardroom agenda are at a definite disadvantage in today’s customer centric world.
“Every boardroom is talking about digital transformation and any company which is not thinking about digital transformation and the improving of customer experience [at the same time] as a boardroom strategy is going to fall behind,” he declared.
The San Jose, California-based software maker is historically best known for designing and building multimedia and creativity software products the likes of Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Flash and Adobe Acrobat Reader, as well as popularising the use of the Portable Document Format (PDF).
In 2011, the company began diversifying by moving its products and services into cloud-based technology beginning with the Adobe Creative Cloud. As of today, Adobe has three main business segments: Digital Media, incorporating Photoshop, Creative Cloud, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Flash Professional and others; Print and Publishing, incorporating licensing technologies such as PostScript and PDF; and Digital Marketing, comprising solutions such as Adobe Marketing Cloud, Adobe Analytics, Adobe Campaign and others.
The company has doubled down on its business by betting big on customer experience and in March announced the availability of Adobe Experience Cloud, as well as a pact with Microsoft announced last September, which will see both companies embracing each other’s products.
Adobe Experience Cloud consists of Adobe’s Marketing Cloud, Advertising Cloud and Analytics Cloud. It is built on the Adobe Cloud Platform, and leverages Adobe Sensei's machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities, the company said.
Srivatsan said that based on what Adobe has gleaned from its customers, many companies are being driven towards digital transformation as customers expect much more than for a company to simply deliver a great product.
Arguing that the industry is now in the last phase of what Adobe considers to be the three significant phases of technology development in the past three decades, Srivatsan said the first phase was about getting the ‘back office’ – such as enterprise resources planning (ERP) – right, which happened in the 1990s.
The next phase happened in the 2000s, when enterprises were trying to get the ‘front office wave’ – web presence and front facing and transactional applications – correct, he added.
“Today, it’s all about getting the third wave – ‘customer experience business wave’ – right,” he argued. “If you’re not delivering a great experience to your customer today, you’re likely to lose those customers as there isn’t customer loyalty anymore in today’s world.”
Customers today, Srivatsan believes, want to be empowered and respected, and they demand that enterprises deliver services should speak in one voice and make technology transparent to them.
“For example, if my preferred point of interaction is mobile, then a bank, for example, should transact with me via mobile and not other ways,” he said. “Also, the messaging that I receive from the bank should be consistent throughout, regardless of the channels that are used to communicate with me.
“The bank should also delight me at every turn, surprising me with innovative products and services,” he argued, noting that this is what enhanced customer focus is about.
However, Srivatsan conceded that while many companies may know this [in theory], they are struggling to come to terms with how to manage these customer expectations in today’s digitally changing world.
“Adobe has the tools to help people design and deliver exceptional digital experiences,” he claimed.
How enterprises are faring
When asked how well companies in Malaysia and Singapore that are embarking on digital transformation initiatives are faring on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being very well, Srivatsan rated most companies as having only a ‘5’ to represent how well they are doing.
Quizzed as to whether he thought this was an encouraging rating or not, Srivatsan argued there are a lot of companies in SEA which are interested in digital transformation and are convinced that they need to do so but they all have different starting points.
For example, in the sphere of marketing, he said some companies don’t have the content in place for them to embark on digital transformation effectively, he explained.
“Today the velocity of content change is much faster because in the past, a company may only change content every two to three months.
“When you put up new content, you need to do it quickly but also across all your platforms such as traditional ads, social media and mobile. Today, you don’t have much time anymore to make and track these changes. You want it to be seamlessly modified,” he said, adding that this scenario is possibly how a company is affected.
Srivatsan also said there are others who have the content but don’t have the platforms to do so. And yet, for other companies, it’s about how to better target their audience or how to create a profile to target a specific kind of customer, he added.
As to what’s holding back companies from digitally transforming, Srivatsan believes that there is a combination of reasons as to why there are some companies in Malaysia and Singapore that aren’t digitally transforming although they should be.
“The most common reason cited, according to my experience, is that companies don’t know where to start. Secondly, even if they knew where to start, they may not have the skill sets to do so – either internally or externally,” Srivatsan said.
Another factor is the changing nature of how a company may function. Take for example a marketing function, he said.
“A lot of companies today outsource advertisement placement to advertising agencies. But there are now platforms and tools which are available to help companies to enable them to be done internally.
“But do companies take advantage of these tools? Are they aware of them and what they can do, in order to help them become more in charge of their digital journey?”
Finally, there are challenges with organisation structure, Srivatsan explained.
“Marketing was a cost centre 10 years ago, but it is instead a boardroom conversation today,” he explained. “And what’s more it’s being positioned as a tool to make a company profitable.
“In fact, one could almost argue that marketing is more important than sales today. The traditional funnel is where marketing does the lead generation and sales does the follow up, but I’ve seen dialogues today make the case that marketing can take the journey all the way to 70% and sales just does the fulfilling.
“So the role of marketing is evolving from just being a cost centre to being a boardroom conversation. Again, are companies able to take advantage of this today? Typically in the past, technology is owned by CIOs and marketing is just a business user. But today, who owns these processes, who drives them, and who is responsible for making things happen?”
Srivatsan said that ultimately there needs to be much more awareness generated on how to go about doing digital transformation amongst enterprises.
“Companies need to figure out where to start and prioritise their spending and look at digital transformation as a journey from the customer point of view,” he said, adding that this is what Adobe’s mission is about – changing the world through digital experiences.