Despite the majority of consumers increasing their use of online channels in the wake of COVID-19, just a quarter of firms feel prepared to offer a digitally-focused customer experience, according to data released by Tata Consultancy Services.
An IT service provider based in India with offices in New York and elsewhere, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) said it surveyed approximately 300 business professionals in North America, Europe and Asia as part of its approximately 40-page report, Digital Readiness and COVID-19: Assessing the Impact.
The focus of the research was to establish business priorities around digital transformation, and 90 per cent of firms globally said they are maintaining or increasing budgets devoted to such initiatives. Of the six key areas where TCS believes digital transformation should be focused, CX was mentioned first, followed by a more specific emphasis on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to continually improve CX within digital channels.
Only 24 per cent said they were using AI-based analytics today, however, and the results were even lower for technologies like the cloud and automation tools. Sectors such as CPG and government services trailed retail and high-tech companies, TCS said.
This doesn’t mean companies are necessarily sitting idly by, however. Forty-four per cent of those surveyed said efforts towards end-to-end digital CX are under development, for example, while 39 per cent are pursing the use of AI to improve CX.
“The pandemic-driven need to expand digital capabilities amid budget tightening is forcing organizations to make difficult decisions,” the authors wrote. “ Executives are compelled to balance goals – such as improving the customer experience, supporting remote workers and building a digitally flexible supply chain – all of which are urgent. Once they have set their priorities, they are evaluating which goals can be addressed with point solutions, and which require a complete overhaul of processes or operating models.”
TCS recommended organizations aim to develop an “irresistible digital CX,” which it defined as simplifying everything that happens before, during and after a purchase by automating as much as possible.
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Ever since at least May, countless organizations I’ve spoken with directly have said they have put their digital transformation efforts into high gear, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve gotten where they need to be.
In some cases it might mean they’ve simply gotten the go-ahead to pursue a particular project — like establishing presence on a digital channel or optimizing it — or that the timeline to do something like deploy an app has been moved up.
The TCS research is clearly aimed at promoting the idea of getting some help (from a firm like TCS) in order to keep pace with the digital transformation needs companies will have as we continue to live with COVID-19. That said, digital transformation is not always viewed through the prism of CX as it has in this report. It could be a useful way for CX professionals to help establish a clearer business case for the IT resources they need, or at least to ensure they are high up on the list of senior management priorities.
As was mentioned elsewhere in the report, meanwhile, many organizations needed to look internally first with digital transformation as they transitioned much of their employee base to a remote work modality. As more of the business process changes associated with that shift become established and mature, CX-related issues may naturally move to the forefront.
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.