The last 12 months saw many disruptive changes taking place as economies and governments move toward rapid digital transformation to address an all-new disrupted world.
While many planned for this change to happen over the next few years, the pandemic accelerated most of these long-term strategies. In fact, according to a recent paper that the International Telecommunication Union published – Digital Trends in Asia and the Pacific 2021 – the role of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), digital services, and digital infrastructure has become central to continued economic and societal activity.
In fact, they offer both businesses and consumers loads of options to consider that can help achieve and extend socio-economic stability.
For the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, this ongoing growth for the ICT space, specifically in infrastructure and user experience, is all thanks to advanced communications development. According to the report, mobile cellular coverage is estimated to be close to 100% for the APAC region. Just over 96.1% of the population is now within reach of a 3G signal and 94.2% offers access to long-term evolution networks (LTE) i.e., high-speed mobile broadband.
Just a decade ago, some countries in the region – like Myanmar – had no 3G or 4G infrastructure deployed. Today, 94.1% of Myanmar’s population is now on 3G, while 75% are using LTE. To date, there are now 92.7 active mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 users in this country. On a broader scope, Southeast Asia (SEA) also experienced massive growth in internet usage.
Further to that, according to Google’s e-Conomy SEA 2020 Report, the SEA region is now at 400 million internet users, a 40 million growth from 360 million in 2019. It is a surge potential that most knew would appear when the time is right. The region also experienced a huge digital growth spurt, with “1 in 3 consumers” being new to the service they registered for and 90% wanting to remain with this newfound need to go digital.
As is, with economies now rapidly digitalizing, everything became reliant on digital communications as they offer the means to maintain business continuity for any operation. Beyond streamlining workflow processes, it enables active engagement with customers; accelerates plans for automation and optimization, and even enhances workforce management.
Quick Facts – Digital Trends in APAC (ITU and Google)
- 2015 to 2020 saw major growths for ICT infrastructure, access, and use
- Population mobile network coverage is near 100%, with an estimated 104.6% subscriptions per 100
- APAC Cloud Market is expected to double in revenue – by US$300 billion – in five years
- Online population for APAC will still rapidly grow, with 94% of new users remaining immersed
- Consumers expect brands to consider their personal beliefsand preferences
- This includes consuming content on channels that best suits their needs
The customer-focused shift
With many countries still under various stages of lockdown and scrambling to get their vaccine programs to run effectively, the need for digital communications is no longer a necessity – it is paramount. This is especially critical for businesses that engage with millions of customers every day.
The question that many are asking now – how can they make the switch?
At a recent Infobip webinar that focused on the next generation of customer engagement, the panelists discussed how the new normal is literally business unusual and why user preferences now play a bigger role with these ongoing changes.
“The paradigm shift is completely broken! New workflows must be considered if businesses are to thrive in this ongoing era of disruption. In fact, it’s ‘do or die’ for them as it is now a critical necessity to embrace the new world,” shared Andreas Vogiatzakis, executive director, AMVPLUS.com.
It’s very clear that this disruption is forceful as it pushed businesses to take that digital leap, transforming how they operate, engage customers, and approach this new world of change.
Technology is the primary catalyst as it helps businesses not only update their work processes, but also ensure they keep customers engaged and can continue to operate in this very different and challenging environment. For most the goal is to focus on the fundamentals, such as retaining customer loyalty through added value options and pushing for a fantastic user expereince.Andreas Vogiatzakis, executive director, AMVPLUS.com
How can businesses leverage on this forceful change?
It is clear that many businesses are now refocusing their efforts towards digitalization so they can be more customer-centric. This is an opportune time for digital service providers to engage with businesses that are looking to transform.
Malaysia-based logistics company Mr Speedy spotted an uptick trend in customers demanding more meaningful and agile engagements. Chun Hean Goh, former Country Manager, MrSpeedy Malaysia, shared: “Our workflow processes and how we managed operations completely changed. It’s the only way we could maintain business continuity and deliver on our promise that the customer experience can still be managed properly.”
What MrSpeedy Malaysia had undertaken, which saw the total overhaul of its operational workflow and management processes, provided the means it needed to drive forward its business continuity plans. “This, for many businesses that deal with a high volume of customer engagement, is a must. In doing what needs to be done, our workforce output and customer experience delivery is made better,” Chun said.
The challenges that MrSpeedy Malaysia faced are applicable the world over and will only continue to grow as various socio-economies come online. This includes:
- Instant gratification for consumers at all levels
- Very high engagement for users
- True seamless customer experience journey
For Dickie Widjaja, CIO, Investree, going digital is critical as it will ensure operations can be maintained and sustained.
It goes beyond surviving as digitalizing will provide businesses with the means to access, analyse, and learn from the data they have. In fact, it will also give them better insights on what their next steps are. What we’re seeing here in the new normal is the clarion call for businesses to digitalize quickly as that is how they can access data-driven insights to maintain business continuity.Dickie Widjaja, CIO, Investree
Beyond user personalisation
As these demands are expected to be mainstay focuses, businesses must now properly consider their digital strategy as it is now critical that they have access to a seamless flow of information and data.
“When the pandemic started, it quickly became clear that no one can be complacent on the digital front. It is imperative that they quickly learn and understand what works for them and what must be done now to address the current and new needs of the customer. The expectation – be it getting data or engagement ‘anywhere and at any time’ to managing the ‘here and now’ demand – is very much a personalized approach. But is that it? In this new normal, communications can no longer be one-way; it must be two-way as brands and consumers must work with platforms that meet their expectations and, by extension, offer the best experience,” shared Ana Butara, product marketing manager, Infobip.
Era of change
The key takeaway – customer engagement, outreach, and support in the new normal must now go hand-in-hand with user experience and positive impact efforts. This, when executed properly, will drive up customer satisfaction and loyalty for businesses. This is beyond finding the best ways to help the workforce be more adaptable and transformative. Butara best summed it up as businesses needing empathy. “Being more empathetic to its workforce and with customers in this highly disruptive era is a must as there are new expectations and demands to manage,” she added.
Can businesses thrive in this new normal with empathy? As everything is customer-centric, this is critical for organizations that are ramping up their customer engagement efforts. In fact, with user patterns and behaviors changing drastically, they must now be more robust when connecting with their audiences.
“It is now about being engaged with the right partners so they can truly leverage on this new era of change. For Infobip, the new decade will put the spotlight on personalized moments and impactful conversations. Disruption, digital transformation, and constant innovation, and putting the customer experience front and center – all of them are now playing bigger roles,” Butara added.
Undoubtedly, it is now critical that businesses understand how important it is to be connected on every channel with their customers and help them build meaningful customer engagements on all fronts.
Your guide to digital engagement in APAC
Find out about changing consumer behavior in the APAC region and how leading brands across industries are transforming the way they communicate with customers to meet new demand.