Talend Senior Vice President & GM Asia Pacific Stu Garrow argues that digital natives are not frightened of absolute connectivity. He says data optimisation will deliver the frictionless experiences younger generations demand.
By Stu Garrow
Consumers have grown to expect interactions with brands to be frictionless, meaning that experiences and payments are effortless or conducted with little difficulty. B2B customers should also have this same experience with transactions, although that is only now starting to become available in the enterprise.
Enterprise customers should have the same quality of experience that they have come to expect in their personal purchases. Vendors providing enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions are still evolving toward a model that doesn’t require contacting sales or negotiating a contract prior to delivering value.
Retail is the perfect illustration of what being frictionless means. Driven by tech-native companies such as Lazada or Shopee, the purchasing journey has completely changed for customers. Today consumers are more likely to be actively engaged with their favourite brands via social media and specially designed apps, whilst also keeping a level of autonomy. According to McKinsey, creating frictionless experiences supports the optimisation of digital channels.
In Asia, the customer journey and experience are at the heart of transactions and companies in the region are leading in technology adoption to ease these experiences. According to Bain & Company research, executives in the region are leading in adopting advanced tools to enhance customer experience by anticipating their needs as well as automating and simplifying decision-making processes.
Our interactions with brands have developed to such an extent that it would be hard to imagine a world without such convenience, and the possibilities for its future expansion are exciting.
The key to frictionless is data
Frictionless interactions have exploded with the emergence of new technologies such as smartphones, the cloud, machine learning, and virtual assistants. These technologies produce, store and analyse vast quantities of data to provide seamless experiences, and the more an economy adopts and implements these technologies, the more digitally competitive it is seen to be. The International Institute for Management Development (IMD) tracks these advances, and in its World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2018, Singapore ranked second. In the factors of digital knowledge and technology, the country has held the global number one position for the last five years.
As a result of digitalisation, industries have enabled customers to have a seamless experience whether they are purchasing goods, travelling or interacting with their bank or insurance company. Even the public sector is adopting online tax returns and other paperless programmes and procedures. This has had a ripple effect on the generations that have grown up with these technologies. Millennials and Generation Z are happy to embrace the idea of a fully connected society and expect a seamless experience because they understand that data is a powerful tool for improving interactions.
Across the region, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) was formed in 2015 to reduce friction between member nations, facilitate an easy flow of goods and services and develop the region’s economic capabilities in order to meet the demands of today’s digital marketplace.
What does this mean for IT teams in organisations?
The accepted norms in B2C transactions are making their way to the enterprise – both internally and externally. Engagement with B2B customers must also now be seamless, as these interactions also impact an organisation’s reputation. IT teams want to use software that’s as easy as streaming a video on YouTube or listening to music on Spotify. They want to be able to start data loading projects easily, connect cloud sources into data warehouses or data lakes in minutes – and it needs to be as simple as a purchase on Lazada.
Digital-native generations are pushing new ways of consuming data within an organisation. One of the major trends driven by this generation is the pay-as-you-go model enabled by the explosion of cloud applications. According to IDC, millennial-led companies have adopted cloud applications such as travel, invoice, expense management and human capital management — as well as desktop as a service — at a more than 20 percent higher rate than the average midmarket firm.
The cloud has revolutionised the way organisations handle data integration. Professionals leveraging data now want to consume technology as a service and not just as products. This reduces costs since installation and administration are no longer managed internally, which allows data professionals to focus on the real benefits of the job: data ingestion and integration in the cloud as well as analysis to improve the business in real time. Data integrity is also a key aspect of delivering a frictionless experience because the accuracy and completeness of the data can have a greater impact on the customer experience rather than the speed of data delivery alone. Incomplete data forces customers to engage with different parts of the business to complete a transaction, extra steps that can be frustrating and create a poor experience overall. As a result, data integration and cloud management platforms are pivotal to the success of businesses in a society where frictionless is the new norm.
As organisations strive to reduce friction in their interactions with customers, legitimate questions are coming to light about data privacy and protection. Data volumes and flows are exploding, as well as the number of companies dealing with personal data. And, in the event of a data breach the integrity of individuals is compromised, which is one of the major concerns when going frictionless. However, just as frictionless experiences empower people by giving them more autonomy, new data protection regulations must now empower them with data privacy.
Personal data in Singapore is protected under the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 (PDPA), which came fully into effect in July 2014. The PDPA ensures a baseline standard of protection for personal data across the economy by complementing the legislative and regulatory frameworks that apply to specific sectors. This means that when handling personal data, organisations will have to comply with the PDPA as well as with common law and other relevant laws relevant to their specific industry.
Regulations like PDPA enable frictionless interactions as companies seen to be respecting the principles of these regulations are more trusted by individuals, making it easier for these organisations to use data to simplify customers’ transactions.
The reality is that no matter the audience, whether they are customers, IT teams, suppliers, or a desk-residing employee, enterprise organizations must fully embrace being frictionless in every part of their business in order to be a truly transformative organization.