Business and Technology in the Age of Digital-First | CFR

There has been a change in the relationship between business and technology. Observe any boardroom discussion today, and it becomes clear that C-level executives no longer view IT as merely enabling their current decisions. As a result, ongoing discussions are focused on the opportunities technology can provide for creating and enhancing strategic options. The same is true for business executives, who look to technology leaders to get a better understanding of how digital can help them run their businesses more efficiently. 

Increasingly, businesses and technology are collaborating as a result of a new relationship between them called “digital-first”. APJ organizations are transforming themselves into digital businesses by adopting digital-first strategies today, 91% of which are implementing digital-first strategies.

The recent C-Suite Sentiment Survey 2022 presented a similar view. A major objective of the overall corporate strategy of 82% of C-level executives in Asia/Pacific is to embrace digital business. In order to meet their top business objectives, at least two-thirds of executives say their digital business initiatives play a significant role. According to rank priority, they include: 

  1. Increased profits (93%).
  2. Reduced cost (69%)
  3. Improve operational efficiency (78%)
  4. Increased revenue (85%).%)
  5. Improve customer experience (80%) 

Business is entering a new era of digitalization. It is clear from a look at the annual reports of leading companies such as Inchcape and Midea Group that technology plays an increasingly important role in strategic planning. The market research we conducted indicates that more companies are looking to integrate business and technology.

Compared to what we’ve experienced so far, the digital acceleration driven by pandemics is just the tip of the iceberg. As technology advances, it opens up new possibilities in business, operating, and organization model design that will radically change the way businesses create and innovate value. We believe we will see many more businesses emerge within a decade that do not exist today, and many more businesses go out of business. 


A digital product, service, or experience can enable growth

Digital channels have changed the economics of sales and marketing by engaging, selling, and servicing customers. Our evolving reality is reaching more people at reduced costs and faster turnaround times. By using digital content, social media, e-commerce, and self-service online assistants, businesses are now considered economically viable for underserved segments and emerging markets.  

The simplicity and real-time aspect of digital products and services are also highly praised by customers. This provides companies with countless opportunities to improve their customer experience (CX). The goal of leading organizations is to broaden reach, appeal, and strengthen customer advocacy by reinventing customer experience delivery through web and mobile channels. 

Based on the same survey, expanded new sales channels (CSO), improved brand awareness (CMO), and systemizing customer feedback (CXO) are the top priorities for customer-facing executives. Technology also plays an important role in helping them achieve these goals. A survey of executives revealed that 24 percent view data management and analytics and 20 percent view sales and marketing automation as critical for the adoption of new technologies over the next twelve months.


Improved operational efficiency through the democratization of data and data-driven decision-making 

Real-time transactions and data analysis has also been made easier by digital technology. With the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and automation, for instance, business data can be collected and analyzed as transactions and events. Supply chain managers can benefit from these by reducing the bullwhip effect in their supply chains as well as gaining more accurate information to enhance their decision-making. 

It is possible to make strategic decisions through digital ecosystems in a more comprehensive way. AI can support business planning by uncovering courses of action, searching for data, and predicting outcomes through simulations, data searches, and discovery. In addition, it could be used to update the situation picture based on the latest information and data as it becomes available. A closed-loop planning approach transforms strategic planning from a unidirectional to a continuous process.  


Bringing the Digital Dream Team together to realize technology’s potential

In order to succeed, the C-suite must prioritize technology investments that are synergistic and scalable. Changing business-tech relationships require changing C-suite relationships to reflect this symbiotic relationship. 

It is the CEO’s responsibility to lead digitally with the C-suite. Rather than simply integrating technology, technology leaders should orchestrate digital initiatives across their organizations. The CEO of most organizations today doesn’t lead digital initiatives personally, instead relying on the CIO as an orchestrator of technology. It is partly reflected in the failures of digital initiatives due to a lackluster return on investment, an inadequate understanding of technology by the C-suite, and the inability to scale as a result of organizational silos.


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