A recent report by global consulting company Accenture suggests that upskilling in tech and digital capabilities and investing in sustainability will be key to the pandemic recovery. 

Accenture’s Chief Experience Officer (CXO) pulse survey compares the opportunities and challenges that CXOs are facing globally as they grapple with what customer experience should look like in the new normal. 

According to Nhung Mason, Managing Director of Accenture’s Retail & Consumer practice, 57 per cent of the CXOs reported that upskilling capabilities should be a top priority for business transformation. 

Nhung Mason, Managing Director — Retail & Consumer Goods ANZ, Accenture

She says, “We see a very strong behavioural change in Australians, and CXOs are definitely seeing this and hence needing to invest a lot more within technology and digital and to improve the experience for customers.”

The kinds of technologies that are being prioritised to improve sustainable business practices vary across the globe. 

In the APAC region, Mason says, “They see technology such as IoT, AI, machine learning technologies really being required to help them to adopt sustainable business practices.”

However, this is contrasted against North America, where CXOs showed a short-term focus on M&A activity.

Mason told Which-50, “With [the US] market what we see is that there is a change in landscape in terms of who’s winning. And obviously the competition there is quite different to here in Australia, where we live in more of a duopoly market. So that M&A activity and looking at being able to come together is really, really prevalent and is the number one focus as the short-term priority for most North American companies.”

China and Europe each have their own priorities as well. Where in Australia it’s about the measurement and capture of data, Europe is prioritising nanotechnologies and augmented and virtual reality. China’s focus is on 5G and RPA automation.

Mason says these differences are understandable, “… because that is still a little bit away for us here in Australia”.

In the short term, Australian CXOs are focussed on improving digital technologies, but also on training the workforce to improve their digital capabilities. The results show that 38 per cent of execs consider digital fluency and capability as a priority to recovery. 

According to Mason, “We speak about data and digital and what we need to realise is that our workforce are not necessarily trained to be able to think about the insight rather than just the data.

“As a consultant, having worked with many organisations in this space, it is about that change management, it is about that capability build, and how do you ensure that you’re setting your team up for success.”

The results show that CXOs see sustainability as a top priority for customer experience, as consumers are looking to purchase from purposeful companies that are making a positive impact.

According to Mason, “Experience these days is not just linked with the transaction, it’s linked with the sentiment, it’s linked with a sense of purpose. And Australians are really starting to see the importance of sustainability and customers are starting to vote with their feet.”

Customers are looking for a closed-loop strategy, where sustainability is embedded into the company’s business model.

She says, “I think most organisations now recognise that purpose is important — not just for their brand, but for their employees. And to have a clarity around that, that is underpinned by your responsibility to the community and broader society.”

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