Reimagining the boardroom of the future

The pandemic has dramatically altered the business landscape in the past 18 months, forcing some to overhaul their strategic operations in the face of heightened uncertainty.

For one, more consumers than ever are going online to buy everything from groceries to insurance policies, putting pressure on traditional retailers and service providers. They are also spending more of their leisure time at home engaging in digital entertainment, whether it’s streaming movies or playing video games.

Meanwhile, the shift to remote work is perhaps one of the more profound changes to come from the crisis. As more employees bring the office into their living rooms, these seismic shifts are helping some companies flourish, while challenging those that are slow to respond.

Significantly, businesses today are urgently embracing digital transformation to keep pace with their customers and the fast-changing operating environment. A McKinsey Global Survey of executives found that companies have accelerated the digitalisation of their customer and supply-chain interactions and their internal operations by three to four years.

Meanwhile, the share of digital or digitally enabled products that companies are offering has accelerated by seven years. In developed Asia, the increase is even greater at 10 years. According to McKinsey, most respondents recognise technology’s strategic importance as a critical component of the business, not just a source of cost efficiencies.

“Organisations around the world recognise the urgent need to transform digitally to meet the changing needs of their customers. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital as an engine of economic growth, and going forward, digital will be key for companies to emerge stronger,” says Simon Tate, the president of Asia Pacific (APAC) at Adobe.

“Against this backdrop, ‘people, process, and technology’ will become increasingly central to strategic development of APAC organisations as they reassess their digital capabilities to adapt to the new demands of the digital-first economy. This process has to start in the boardroom,” Mr Tate adds.

While APAC businesses are well-positioned to ride the post-pandemic recovery – having experienced significant technology transformation over the past decade – challenges remain. For instance, legacy technology is perceived by over half of Australia and New Zealand executives (51 per cent) to be the greatest barrier holding their organisations back, according to Adobe’s Digital Trends 2021 report. In other Asian markets, barriers such as inefficient workflows (48 per cent) and lack of digital skills/capabilities (43 per cent) are persistent issues.

Digital literacy is key

While digital transformation has been on the corporate agenda of most companies for at least five years, some have been slow to respond, says Mr Tate. The pandemic, however, has served as a rude awakening.

“The corporate landscape has been radically transformed as a result of the pandemic. Every company today has to be digitally led. This requires the board to have digital tools at their fingertips in order to make decisions based on constantly changing customer demands,” he explains.

In an environment where the C-suite needs to be equipped with the relevant digital skills and tools to make data-driven decisions, digital literacy in the boardroom is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather a key competitive differentiator.

“While technology is able to augment human ability, business leaders require the right knowledge and understanding of its capabilities to fully harness its potential. That’s why digital literacy is critical at the board level,” says Mr Tate.

A digitally savvy board can help foster a data-driven culture that ensures employees are equipped with the tools and skills to continually enhance the digital experience. A data-driven culture is key to driving any digital transformation journey – one where all executives, from the boardroom to senior management teams, can easily access data to make more informed decisions to meet their customers’ needs better.

C-suite collaboration

Successful digital transformation will require the C-suite to collaborate effectively. The CMO, CIO, CEO, CFO and even compliance and communications must work together to influence and impact one another during the transformation process. For instance, compliance plays a significant role in an area like ethical data use that the CMO can leverage.

CMOs, in particular, will play a key role in driving strategy and transformation efforts in a digital-first landscape. In 2020, three-quarters of senior executives said the role of marketing in setting strategy had expanded, and data is powering marketing’s move into the boardroom.

However, while many companies are looking to marketing for help in responding to the explosion of digital customers, many have yet to commit to a data-driven approach to growth, says Mr Tate. One solution is to bring the CMO into the boardroom to focus on improving the digital-first customer experience through technology solutions.

Digitising workflows

The first steps for a company to transform digitally often involve digitising document workflows, and incorporating these into the employee and customer journeys. By upgrading their document processes, organisations become more agile and better equipped to meet customer expectations. In this area, the use of electronic signatures has become pervasive in today’s digital world – from employee onboarding and the authorisation of business contracts, to last-mile delivery of customer engagements.

In reality, however, only 12 per cent of APAC organisations have transitioned to fully digitised document workflows. Those that still rely on paper-based processes will continue to be burdened by inefficiencies; some 58 per cent of companies report having to constantly rework documents due to high margins of error. Meanwhile, one in four businesses achieved higher customer satisfaction after transitioning to digital document solutions.

“Adopting end-to-end digital processes facilitates easier collaboration, provides better document security, and improves productivity, thus enabling organisations to better serve their customers’ needs,” says Mr Tate.

“To thrive in the digital economy, companies will need to accelerate their transition from paper-based to digital workflows. Investing in digitising document processes will enhance the resilience of their organisations.”

Supporting business transformation

To help businesses in the region transform digitally, Adobe is accelerating its investment in local infrastructure and government partnerships to drive the adoption of e-signatures. Today, the firm’s e-signature solution, Adobe Sign, is trusted by millions and has processed more than eight billion transactions around the globe.

Adobe recently made Adobe Sign and Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service available locally, and hosted in the Microsoft Azure South East Asia region data centre located in Singapore. This move will bring enhanced capabilities to brands in the region, as they deliver secure and seamless end-to-end digital experiences.

Adobe also rolled out new product offerings, supported by Microsoft Azure infrastructure, that are designed to help local government and commercial organisations deliver enhanced customer and citizen experiences.

“Adobe is supporting brands globally in their efforts to create engaging content and deliver personalised experiences across different touchpoints, while being able to measure the impact of each engagement in real time,” says Mr Tate.

“Adobe Sign is also helping brands improve the experience of last-mile delivery for employee and customer interactions amid an explosion of digital engagements.”

This article was originally published on The Business Times.

Source: The Business Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.