Despite a media frenzy in the Western world on ‘being digital’, our study found that companies in Asia-Pacific and Latin America see digital initiatives as more important than companies in North America and Europe. Nearly a quarter of the companies in Asia-Pacific ranked digital initiatives as ‘of most importance’ to financial success in the next five years. Nearly the same proportion of Latin American companies (21%), made the same choice. Only about one in 10 companies in both North America and Europe, by comparison, viewed their digital initiatives as their most important success factor. (See Exhibit ll-7.)
The contrasting mindsets about the impact of digital technology result from a few different factors. Companies in Asia Pacific, for example, tend to be more conservative than their counterparts in North America. By waiting for a clear ROI before committing to investments in the cloud or analytics software, companies in Asia-Pacific may only now be reaching the point that U.S. companies have already reached – understanding how crucial an optimal digitization strategy is to becoming competitive and capitalizing on growth opportunities.
In both Asia-Pacific and Latin America, it may be that demographics is playing a role: The digital revolution couldn’t begin until younger minds were in positions to fundamentally embrace digital technology and alter age-old business processes. Knowing the value customers assign to having a positive digital experience, the new generation of leaders isn’t hesitating when it comes to allocating the budget necessary to retrofit their companies digitally from top to bottom. Given the high levels of internet access and smartphone ownership in the Asia-Pacific countries, the need to further integrate and measure digital technology may be more evolutionary than revolutionary.
Despite their staggered starting points, the clear majority of companies in all four regions view their digital initiatives as either ‘of major importance’ or ‘of most important’. As an executive at a major media company told us, the business continues to invest heavily in digital because it’s where more and more of their audience wants to be. To maximize the return on its investment – and find fresh revenue streams – the company must continuously innovate, applying insights gleaned by staying with, or ahead of, its customers.
Exhibit ll-7: More Asia-Pacific and Latin American Companies View Digital Initiatives as No. 1 Success Factor