Report: Australian customers wield less influence on business leaders than other countries

A new study released by IBM has revealed that Australian customers wield less influence on business leaders than in other countries (47% versus 54% globally), with only 29% claiming to have strong collaboration with customers today. The Australian findings of its ‘Global C-suite Study’ also found that over the next five years the Australian C-suite will triple their efforts to collaborate with customers (87% from 29% today).

Key findings from Australian leaders in the IBM Global C-suite Study:

  • Less than 50% are strongly influenced by customers today, with only 29%  saying they understand their customers well,
  • 87% called out customer collaboration as their top priority over the coming five years,
  • 92% will choose digital as the lead channel to engage with customers in the next three to five years and
  • Two-thirds currently feel they have a weak digital strategy – or none at all.

The study, based on face-to-face interviews with 97 Australian C-suite leaders, explored how executives are responding to rapid digitisation and customer empowerment, and how insights gleaned from these rapid changes are being used to shape business strategies over the next five years. The IBM Global C-suite Study is conducted globally in more than 70 countries.

Digital will become the lead channel for customer collaboration in the next three to five years

In Australia today, face-to-face is still the lead channel for customer engagement for the C-suite, followed by digital (80% face-to-face and 66% digital). Over the next three to five years this trend will reverse with 92% of business leaders identifying digital as the channel to engage with customers.

Business leaders have identified the top three priorities to improving customer engagement as: creating a consistent customer experience (81%); quickly responding to emerging trends (77%) and combining internal and external data to gain insights (76%). Taking a digital-first approach to customer collaboration will help the C-suite to achieve these priorities.

Ian Wong, IBM interactive experience lead for Australia and New Zealand says, “The rapid adoption of digital technologies and the high penetration of mobile devices by customers has driven a power shift, pushing organisations to take an outside-in approach to business strategy. Listening, capturing and analysing data from these customer interactions provides valuable insights for business leaders.”

Pioneer seamless digital-physical approaches

Today in Australia, two-thirds of business leaders said they have a weak digital strategy – or none at all, with only 32% claiming to have an integrated digital-physical strategy.  C-suite leaders called out competing priorities (75%) and the lack of a cohesive social media plan (72%) as the key challenges hindering implementation of this strategy.

Wong concludes, “The lack of a digital strategy suggests that Australian leaders are taking a tactical, siloed approach to digital collaboration with customers rather than a seamless cross-channel engagement.  If organisations are to remain relevant to customers, and survive in the digital economy, their business strategies need to be informed based on insights gained from integrated digital-physical engagements with customers.”