Digital trends 2022 for business: digitisation progress and challenges

As we are barely emerging from the Covid crisis, now is the right moment to assess the most prominent digital trends of 2022. Have companies made any progress and what challenges do they face in this tremendous post-crisis drive to digitisation? I’m going to deliver my fast-track analysis of a report I just received from our friends and colleagues at Adobe: the Digital Trends 2022 report and its Experience Index. This post is a follow-up to my various articles from 2021, produced at the annual Adobe Summit event. This report was entrusted to Visionary Marketing and we would like to thank Adobe for this. [We shall also point out in the interest of disclosure, ethics and compliance that we have worked for Adobe on several occasions]. Here is my analysis. Our readers are advised to download the report directly from the Adobe website at vismktg.info/ADOBEDT22

Digital trends 2022: progress and challenges in business digitisation

Adobe Digital Trends 2022 Study
Adobe’s Digital Trends 2022 Study has shown real progress in the digitalisation of businesses, although much remains to be done and organisational and IT challenges remain numerous

TLDR: fast-track summary of this study’s analysis of digital trends 2022

For those who don’t have time to read, here is a fast-track summary of this Digital Trends 2022 study.

digital trends study 2022
My analysis of the 2022 Adobe and Econsultancy digital trends study
    1. There is evidence of a digital acceleration driven by the Covid crisis;
    2. In the face of the urgent need to respond to this need for digitisation, not all companies are equal and only a third of them feel relatively comfortable with this change (“leaders”);
    3. The main challenges revolve around data but also customer knowledge and organisational issues (and especially the ability to work and collaborate across the organisation);
    4. All businesses grapple with the understanding of customer insights and motivations. There is a serious concern regarding the listening ability of companies;
    5. There are still doubts as to whether sufficient budgets and effective skills development plans are in place;
    6. To sum up, there are encouraging signs of business evolution but challenges that remain important on internal collaboration in a multi-channel and complex environment where organisational and IT silos represent a major obstacle.

Detailed analysis of the Adobe/Econsultancy 2022 digital trends study

Here is my detailed analysis, using the figures from the study.

Let’s start with some methodological notes. This is a truly impressive study as Adobe and Econsultancy surveyed around 10,000 people between November 2021 and January 2022, of which around 6,600 came from Adobe’s qualified databases with a supplement made of a panel of participants. Hence a total of 9,455 responses, 70% of which approximately are marketers.

digital trends 2022

This panel of respondents is divided between decision makers (28%) and practitioners (72%). The study described the various respondent companies as leaders, mainstream or laggards.

Mainstream businesses make up the overwhelming majority (60%) of these respondents. Leaders represent about a third of them. What we are measuring here is the impact of the crisis on innovation and digital transformation of organisations in terms of customer experience.

The MOPI index to measure the performance of marketing organisations

This ranking is made possible by an index calculation (MOPI or Marketing Organisation Performance Index) is calculated from a scale of 1 to 10 spread over 5 different measures:

    1. Agility to respond to innovations and challenges
    2. Innovativeness
    3. Collaboration with IT
    4. skills development and training
    5. Diversity and inclusivity

Forty-three percent of the respondents to this survey are American, 39% European and 15% are from Asia Pacific. The survey was made available to respondents in several languages: English, French, German and Chinese.

The pandemic has sped up ongoing Changes

The Covid crisis has accelerated the speed of change and digitisation of businesses. Everyone had noticed this intuitively. The pandemic did not really initiate this change, as Ford’s Head of Customer Engagement, Claire Hepworth, says.

By confining consumers, and sellers, to their homes, and in part continuing to do so at the moment, Covid has contributed to the acceleration of the use of digital by consumers.

The impact on the CX is also quite significant. When the so-called practitioners (based on approximately 3,000 respondents) were asked if they had seen an influx of consumers on digital channels, 75% said yes for returning customers and 72% for new ones.

Moreover, something we had also noticed, intuitively, the change in customer journeys because of the impossibility of going to the local store. The pandemic therefore accelerated changes that were already underway.

With this in mind, what is preventing marketing or customer experience departments from responding more suitably to these organisational and marketing changes? Adobe and Econsultancy assigned the respondents to this study to three different buckets 1) Leaders 2) Mainstream and 3) Laggards.

To simplify the reading of the above graph, we have grouped the 3 most important scores for each category:

  • Leaders first: organisations that address new challenges properly are those that have managed to get the different organisational silos to work together. Mind you, we aren’t saying you can do away with silos, as a matter of fact, you can’t. We encourage ‘silo busters’ to get people to work in a collaborative manner, and that is a very different kettle of fish. In this category, Adobe witnessed some workflow issues (this makes sense, working cross-organisationally also means sharing responsibilities, putting workflows together that extend from one end of the organisation to the other and inevitably, this poses challenges for 30% or so of the leaders). And finally, integration between technological systems. It’s not just in organisations that we have silos. In information systems too.
  • For those in the middle of the pack (called “mainstream”), there is the same problem of integration between information systems, followed very closely by workflow issues and 3 criteria at the same level: lack of innovation, lack of customer knowledge and poor data quality. And it is clear that this is one of the most important sources of irritation. Poor data quality is correlated with poor customer knowledge, this is self-explanatory. When you work with huge numbers of customers, you can’t know them all personally, so you have to organise your data to overcome this issue.
  • As for the “laggards”, apart from the age-old problems of integration between systems, there is the thorny issue of digital skills (a major concern at the moment) and the lack of innovation.

Now that we have understood the challenges businesses are facing, let’s describe what makes leaders stand out from the crowd. Naturally, as stated earlier, being able to overcome internal silos and work across the organisation is one their main characteristics.

Then one finds “obtaining more reliable data” that provides more plausible customer insights. This is what does improve customer knowledge, which ensures that customers are conveniently acknowledged and get proper service across all channels.

Then the final point is talent sourcing and skills development. The great resignation isn’t making things easy for those businesses that want to hire people with the skills that digitisation requires. As a result, putting your trust into your existing employees and offering them proper digital training isn’t an option.

For those who want to move into digital, there will be many opportunities, because the need for resources and skills in this area is formidable.

Let’s look at the budgets next. Here I must admit that I was a little surprised. Challenges due to the sheer acceleration of digitisation are enormous and companies must address such challenges, particularly in terms of training and skills.

All of this, without exaggeration, will require bigger budgets not only regarding technology, but also for the women and men who make such technology work.

The figures provided by the survey are rather surprising, however, since a significant proportion of respondents report stagnating or decreasing budgets.

I put this down to the crisis, but one will have to pay attention to this moving forward, because one will have to make up for the time that has been lost now in the next two to three years, be it in IT or with the acquisition or evolution of new digital skills, and that won’t be easy.

How do respondents rate their marketing organisations? The results are not very encouraging (77% are deemed negative or average).

Moving from human resource management to true talent development is a major challenge for organisations that have lost this habit through the many economic crises that have occurred since the first oil shock (my old boss even used to call HR “Human Remains” and I agree that this isn’t very flattering).

The respondents’ assessments of customer knowledge, on the other hand, is quite confusing. Real-time market research technology is so pervasive and so easy to deploy (I even was one of the pioneers of CAWI over twenty years ago) that claiming not to understand your customers’ motivations for purchase or what friction points there are in your customer journey sounds completely surreal to me.

Customer experience is on everybody’s lips. Yet, there is certainly a lot of work to be done to move from lip service to proper field implementation.

To succeed, and this is the final point of this study, with digitisation as well as overcome CX challenges in a multi-channel world, collaboration between IT and marketing is crucial. Here we notice that IT representatives are well aware of the importance of the role of marketing, and this is very good news.

We will also see that decision-makers know how crucial such collaboration is in order to overcome the many challenges of digitisation.

While there is still much to be done to improve the level of understanding and cooperation between these two populations, these results are largely encouraging.

Download the presentation that fuelled this analysis: Adobe digital trends 2022.

Yann Gourvennec
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