Consumer-facing businesses must jump now

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To date, the most visible successes in the field of augmented reality may well be centred around games based on capturing colourful monsters. AR apps like Pokemon Go create hype and headlines, yet the more lasting applications of these innovations are likely to be in prosaic areas – adding information to your windscreen while driving for example, or training mechanics to better repair complex machinery.

Technology innovation is the key to this convergence between the physical and digital worlds. The adoption of new tools and smarter technology enables businesses to deliver more efficiencies at lower costs. Yet it is cross-industry experience that is really driving disruption.

Telstra recently commissioned International research and data company Ovum to track the latest trends in international ICT investment and spending, to better understand the addressable market. The research found that legacy business-to-consumer multinational corporations (MNCs) and the IT&T sector are the most buoyant when it comes to increasing spending on ICT in the next 12 to 24 months.

IT&T is leading the way with a 62 per cent expected increase, followed by retail at 57 per cent, media at 56 per cent and financial services at 54 per cent.

Cross-pollination to keep pace

Major organisational restructures are set to drive businesses in new directions as companies look to survive, stay relevant and set the pace for the future. The Ovum research found that the biggest opportunities for consumer-facing multinational companies are in delivering a multi-region, and multi-vertical offering – creating opportunities to reach several different sectors across multiple countries through one solution.

By using technology innovation, MNCs are leading cross-pollination initiatives across industries to create new digital possibilities and stay relevant to customers. The financial services industry, for example, shows a huge amount of promise when it comes to changing services through innovation, as operators now look to compete in the fintech market space by providing mobile and online only services.

Recently Singapore based bank DBS and Asian delivery and transportation service GO-JEK announced a partnership offering alternative digital payment options for users that would usually pay for the service with cash. The DBS PayLah! Service acts as a mobile wallet, and provides Go-JEK users with payment flexibility.

Fintech organisations are exploring how to make consumer spending easier and more flexible. For example, US-based Revolut specialises in offering a variety of currencies for users to spend and transfer money through mobile applications, and Australia’s AfterPay, which has partnered with hundreds of stores in Australia, the US and UK, offers alternative payment plans that allow users to pay for purchases over four equal payments, but receive their purchase upfront.

Ovum’s research also reveals that B2C companies are looking to push the envelope in digital innovation. In particular, they are partnering or acquiring disruptive organisations that will assist them in launching new offerings or move into new industries to become cross vertical.

For example, Netflix began life as a mail-order DVD rental and retail provider. But, as network and hardware advancements enabled customers to access content online through mobile and smart devices, the company transformed itself into an online streaming service. Today, the company has expanded into the film and media industry, producing increasing amounts of original content and partnering with many of the world’s leading production companies.

Strengthening partnerships between markets

Creating strong partnerships, as Netflix has done with the likes of major studios like Disney as well as local TV producers such as Channel 4 in the UK, boosts cross industry experience and aids digital transformation goals.

Telstra’s recent Disruptive Decision-Making study explored the value of these behaviours to digital transformation success. We asked business leaders to rate decision-making across four factors for success – people, processes, technology understanding and partnerships.

We found MNCs see ‘partnerships’ making positive contributions to effective decision-making when it comes to the ‘ability to analyse and re-evaluate digital transformation effectiveness’ and being ‘empowered to design and implement it’.

Technologies driving transformation

Digital transformation is driving the demand for greater agility in networks that support businesses to deliver superior customer experience.

Ovum research found that consumer-facing enterprises are set to undergo complete network transformation – driven by cloud, edge computing and SD-WAN.

In fact, more than one third (36 per cent) of MNCs indicated that more than 20 per cent of their networks will be managed and controlled by SD-WAN in the next two years. SD-WAN improves application performance, delivers better bandwidth performance, user experiences and reduces operating costs.        

Digital reinvention is creating opportunities for consumer-facing enterprises, but the approach for each vertical must be tailored. A combination of strong partnerships to create opportunities, as well as embracing new technologies to facilitate innovation, will provide the best platform for MNCs to enter new markets, and forge ahead of the competition.