Embrace your inner entrepreneur to accelerate change in a post-pandemic landscape
According to Adobe ANZ VP Suzanne Steele, leaders and innovators with an entrepreneurial mindset will drive the future of digital experiences. Learn how to embrace your inner entrepreneur and drive digital transformation.
The recent 2021 Adobe Experience Makers Awards celebrated people and companies that have raised the bar for customer experiences, despite the challenges of the past year.
AMP’s Ingrid Ferreira is a champion of data-driven decision-making, resulting in her winning the Experience Maker of the Year award in Asia Pacific. Over the last year, Ferreira worked with stakeholders across several departments to design and deliver tailored customer journeys for home loan applicants, leading to better customer and business outcomes. In the process, she trained her colleagues on Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target and — by fostering a digital-first mindset — helped bring a 175-year-old financial services institution into the modern age.
Another Australia-based business, Tabcorp, was recognised as the region’s Experience Maker Team of the Year for making it easier for horseracing fans to place bets. Using Adobe Experience Cloud technology, the team developed a fan-focused platform that deploys the right messages to the right customers at exactly the right time. Tabcorp’s highly personalised approach led to 15 percent year-over-year customer growth through digital channels.
One common thread that connects these award winners, and the other winners and finalists from around the globe, is entrepreneurial leadership. The best experience makers are bringing entrepreneurial qualities — like creativity, collaboration, and a data-driven mindset — to the challenge of engaging and delighting digital-first customers. Today’s experience makers lead from wherever they are in the organisation. And similarly to startup entrepreneurs, they’re always on the lookout for an unmet customer need that they can fill.
COVID-19 shifted us from a digital-led world to a digital-only world. While digital transformation is certainly a global phenomenon, every region is evolving at its own pace. The imperative to adapt is different in each country, which means there is no single approach to tackling today’s digital challenges.
In 2020, organisations of all sizes in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) started building and utilising technology like never before to move services online and stay connected with customers. In fact, more than 50 percent of Australian CIOs implemented an artificial intelligence project last year. However, a significant difference remains in the current state of digital transformation among businesses. Some are still trying to put the foundational blocks in place to creatively deliver better customer experiences, while others have transformed into dynamic, digital-first experience makers.
For leaders and innovators with an entrepreneurial mindset, the post-pandemic world presents a unique opportunity. Between the hyper-competitive market in the ANZ region and the always-in-flux nature of the current global landscape, those who can think big and think cross-channel are the ones who will lead ANZ into the next phase of the experience revolution.
ANZ is ripe for entrepreneurial leadership
ANZ is the ideal incubator for big ideas, given its growing economy and changing demographics. Consumers in Australia and New Zealand have high expectations when it comes to customer experience (CX) — they demand seamless, tailored experiences from brands, and they expect those brands to know, respect, and delight them at every turn.
As digital convenience becomes a commodity, CX will be a key differentiator for brands. When Econsultancy and Adobe surveyed marketing leaders across Asia Pacific (APAC) for our 2020 Digital Trends in APAC Report, nearly 19 percent said that optimising the customer experience was the most exciting opportunity for their organisation in the year ahead. Compared to all of APAC, 35 percent of ANZ marketers identified CX as their top opportunity.
Yet while companies in ANZ are most likely to use customer experience to edge out the competition, 51 percent, rate themselves as “not very advanced” in terms of CX maturity. To catch up with their APAC counterparts, ANZ organisations need to increase their investment in technologies that can help them deliver tailored experiences in real-time. The next evolution of experience management is analysing and adapting to a customer’s needs and emotional journey.
ANZ is relatively small compared to the Asian, European, and U.S. markets. There’s also a tremendous level of competition, which makes being first to market even more important if companies want to grow and scale. Today, companies with entrepreneurial leadership will always have an edge — no matter how long they’ve been in business.
Growth is rarely a solo effort. I’ve marvelled at how communities, leaders, and even competitors in the ANZ region have worked together to overcome what at times felt like insurmountable challenges.
For example, supermarket rivals Coles and Woolworths joined forces in the early days of the pandemic to make sure consumers had reliable and fair access to groceries. We’ve also seen leading brands in the Australian technology sector reflect this spirit of community with the launch of Skill Finder, a free micro-skills marketplace. If we build on this momentum through continued collaboration and innovation, I believe the possibilities are endless for the ANZ region.
Cultivate these entrepreneurial traits — in yourself, your leaders, and your staff
2020 brought a loss of predictability for brands across every sector — no business or industry has been unaffected. Leaders everywhere are rethinking how they work, sell, and serve their customers, and the one constant globally is the need to act quickly and strategically.
Today, businesses require leaders who can face challenges head-on with speed, agility, and an open mind — and who can make decisions grounded in data. ANZ leaders will need to reorganise their businesses around a data-driven operating model, and that means redesigning their technology, processes and people. With the right technology, processes, and team agility in place, they’ll be able to capitalise on the opportunities of the digital economy, compete in an ever-evolving world, and prepare for the next disruption to the status quo.
Yet while technology is the primary enabler of ongoing operations for many organisations, creativity is just as important. Soft skills such as insight, collaboration, and ideation are incredibly valuable and crucial for business success in today’s complex, dynamic world.
Business leaders also need empathy. By analysing and anticipating customers’ reactions at decision points and during moments of friction, brands can design a smoother and more emotionally satisfying journey for the customer.
According to our 2021 Digital Trends Report, CX leaders are twice as likely as their mainstream peers to have “significant insight” into customers’ motivations and challenges, including the factors that prompt them to buy a product or deepen their commitment to a brand. Empathy is not only essential to create exceptional customer experiences but also a crucial part of guiding teams in the right direction.
In my experience leading Adobe ANZ, it’s vital for leaders to have a clear vision and articulate it well. You need to take your team on the journey with you, ensuring they have a sense of ownership over the goals for the business — and feel responsible for achieving them.
As a leader, you need to craft a talent strategy that develops the right mix of specialised digital capabilities and human skills to support innovation, growth, and business transformation. According to Deloitte’s 2018 Closing the talent gap report, technical skills have a shelf life of just five years. That’s just one reason why companies that over-rely on technical skills won’t succeed over the long term. To get the total value from your investments in technology, you need to invest in both technical and non-technical skills.
At Adobe, we’ve launched several programs designed to foster an entrepreneurial mindset and cultivate creativity among our people. Our Creative Jams and Hackathons give employees the time and space to be innovative and potentially develop new projects that can drive the business. At the annual Adobe MAX and Adobe Summit, we hold a Sneaks program where our imaginative engineers and researchers showcase early technologies that push the boundaries of innovation. Our Kickbox methodology provides organisations with an innovation framework that employees can use to create valuable business cases.
Use entrepreneurial leadership to steer your organisation into the post-pandemic future
Despite a challenging economic environment arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations across Australia and New Zealand remained resilient.
Adobe has always been dedicated to helping our customers take on new challenges, not just by providing the technologies they need to transform their businesses but also by offering insight to guide their journey. We have appointed our first Adobe International Advisory Board to further help our customers navigate disruption and set digital transformation strategies to excel in the new era of customer experience.
In a digital-first economy, the enterprise methods of the past are less effective than they once were. We need to embrace entrepreneurial skills to set ourselves and our businesses apart and deliver experiences that will delight customers well into the future.