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CX priority for businesses, but technology adoption lags: Report

New research from Adobe, in partnership with Econsultancy, has found that delivering first-class, personalized customer experiences (CX) is top of mind for businesses in 2019, however the implementation of marketing and CX technology continues to be fragmented. The “Digital Intelligence Briefing: 2019 Digital Trends” provides insights into the current state of digital trends that will impact companies in the year ahead.

Customer experience optimization is a top priority for businesses in 2019, with nearly one-fifth (19 per cent) of respondents citing it as the most exciting opportunity this year. However, more than half (54 per cent) of global companies categorize their CX maturity as either ‘not very advanced’ (46 per cent) or ‘immature’ (8 per cent). US organizations are most likely to regard their customer experience as ‘very advanced’ (15 per cent), while just 9 per cent of APAC respondents described their companies in that way.

“Our research indicates that as new techniques and practices related to customer experience emerge, organizations are struggling to keep up with the rate of change,” said Paula Parkes, Adobe Asia Pacific Senior Director of Marketing. “Our priority is to work with brands to unlock the possibilities of customer experience management and accelerate their business transformation.”

Personalization will remain an area of focus for organizations looking to provide an advanced customer experience. According to Adobe’s report, two in five (44 per cent) marketers said the biggest challenge they face this year is ‘difficulty getting a holistic view of customers across all interactions’. In fact, almost one-third (31 per cent) of marketers see a ‘lack of marketing technology integration’ as a barrier to securing an end-to-end view of audience and customer interactions.

As CX continues to be a key competitive differentiator, businesses are aiming to deliver data-driven, personalized marketing at scale. Among marketers (32 per cent), ‘delivering personalized experiences in real time’ remains by far the most exciting prospect within the next three years.

Adobe’s 2019 Digital Trends report also revealed that most businesses globally are yet to implement effective, future-proof marketing and CX technologies. The majority (64 per cent) of organizations are either basing their marketing activities on a ‘fragmented approach with inconsistent integration between technologies’ (46 per cent) or have ‘little or no cloud technology’ (18 per cent). While this is an improvement on the 67 per cent revealed in last year’s Adobe report, it still means that only a minority of businesses are reaping the benefits of an effective toolset.

Results show that less than 1 in 10 businesses globally (9 per cent) have a ‘highly integrated, cloud-based technology stack’, despite last year’s report revealing that top-performing organizations were three times more likely than their counterparts to operate with one.

While adoption rates of integrated technology stacks remain low, there is an urgency to implement these tools. More than half (55 per cent) of all respondents expect ‘better use of data for more effective audience segmentation and targeting’ to be among the top three marketing-related areas jumping furthest up their organization’s priority list in 2019.

As for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), organizations worldwide seem evenly split between those that have already recognized ways these technologies can help their businesses and those that have yet to identify the benefits. Data revealed that 50 per cent of respondents are ‘already using’ or are ‘planning to invest’ in AI and ML.

Executives in APAC seem positive about automation, with only 24 per cent describing themselves as ‘cautious’, compared with 34 per cent in the US. Further to that, APAC businesses (24 per cent) state they have experienced a positive rather than negative impact from the increased focus on consumer data protection.

Parkes said, “Although organizations understand the importance of data-driven marketing and technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, there is a lag in implementation. Instead, many companies resort to using a patchwork of technologies, resulting in business fragmentation. At Adobe, we are dedicated to developing seamlessly integrated solutions that unlock data across the enterprise to deliver a platform for powerful customer experiences.